The Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Organization of Chinese Americans Pittsburgh Chapter released a joint statement on May 6 condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Asian racism connected to the spread of the coronavirus.
“Going back as early as mid-January, well before coronavirus spread throughout the United States in large numbers, Asians and Asian Americans — our families and our businesses in Pittsburgh and beyond — have seen a significant increase in hate directed toward our community,” said Marian Lien, president of OCA Pittsburgh, in the statement. “Asian restaurant workers are being harassed after finishing up their shifts. White supremacists have shouted ‘white power’ at us, and still others tell us we don’t belong. In the last several days, a Pittsburgh city sign in Squirrel Hill was vandalized by a bigot who placed a homemade ‘Nuke China’ sticker on the pole. Many in our community are terrified and intimidated, and we have done nothing to deserve such hatred.”
Likewise, the Jewish community has been targeted by anti-Semites who are blaming Jews for the spread of the pandemic. These claims have been made particularly by white supremacists who charge that COVID-19 was created by Jews seeking to profit from it.
There also have been reports of white supremacists planning to use the virus to harm Jews by spreading it to Jewish institutions, but the FBI so far has found no evidence of physical attempts to do so in the Pittsburgh area, according to the statement.
“In Southwestern PA white supremacists are ‘Zoom bombing’ virtual meetings at various Jewish institutions,” said Bob Silverman, chair of the CRC. Zoom bombing is a term describing when those not welcome at online Zoom events hack into those events and display hate symbols or otherwise disrupt the meetings. “What’s more, hackers have attempted cyberattacks on a number of our organizations, either for financial gain or with the intent to cause harm to our community,” Silverman added.
The CRC and the OCA Pittsburgh Chapter, “stand in solidarity with each other against the unfounded hate directed toward both communities in the wake of the pandemic,” the statement continued. “We recognize the profound impact that COVID-19 has had on all marginalized communities and that Pittsburgh is at its best when it is a welcoming place for all. We encourage all Pittsburghers, no matter their race or religion, to persevere and stay safe as we traverse these trying times together.” PJC
– Toby Tabachnick