Rafi Brinner gives a presentation on active shooters at the offices of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, Feb. 16, 2023. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)
Rafi Brinner gives a presentation on active shooters at the offices of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, Feb. 16, 2023. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)

Federations’ new hate incident reporting form amplifies cooperation

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The San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund is encouraging people in the Bay Area to report antisemitic incidents, threats or hate crimes through a new online form.

The S.F. Federation is joining more than 30 others across the country in using the form, which was launched March 10 by the Secure Community Network, an organization that provides advice on security for Jewish groups nationwide. The collaboration will allow federations to work together on analyzing and responding to threats.

“I think it’s a really powerful development,” said Rafi Brinner, director of community security at the Federation, adding that it was based on years of already existing cooperation between Federation and SCN.

The form takes info on assaults, threats, property damage and vandalism, but also threatening or suspicious phone calls, emails or social media, as well as suspicious packages and antisemitic or threatening flyers. Reports may be made anonymously.

Brinner said the information-sharing that the new reporting tool promotes is crucial in figuring out just how much to be worried. He gave the example of threatening calls made against local Jewish schools. By talking to SCN and other Federations, he was able to find out someone had been harassing schools across the country. That made his assessment of risk a lot different than if it had been someone local.

“That’s the crux of information sharing,” he said.

Information submitted through the form goes to both SCN and the local Federation. Brinner said that people should always call the police first if there is an emergency, but that getting the information to Federation directly means that Federation can reach out to help.

“Really the message is, ‘You’re not alone,’” Brinner said.

The SCN isn’t the only one to collect information on hate incidents. The Anti-Defamation League asks for reports of incidents of antisemitism, extremism, bias, bigotry or hate to be reported.

The FBI also collects hate crime data from law enforcement agencies, but submitting the data is optional. (There’s a difference between a hate crime and a hate incident. The former has to be a crime under the criminal code as well motivated by bias).

In December of 2022 the FBI released its 2021 data on hate crimes, later supplementing it with more data, but noted that a new system was probably causing underreporting. According to ADL, 79% of law enforcement agencies enrolled in the program reported data. The FBI categorizes hate incidents involving antisemitism as “related to religion,” and anti-Jewish incidents accounted for close to half of the over 1,000 reported.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.