Anti-Semitic mail sent to State Sen. Anna Kaplan, Nassau police say

Originally published in Newsday on June 23, 2021.

Anti-Semitic mail sent to Long Island State Sen. Anna Kaplan, who fled Iran as a child to escape potential violence against Jews, is being probed as a possible hate crime, Nassau police said Wednesday.

The messages with white supremacist slogans and debunked anti-vaccine claims were scrawled on a mailing Kaplan (D-Great Neck) sent to her constituents offering general information about coronavirus vaccines, the senator's spokesman Sean Collins said.

"What was unique about this piece of hate mail that was received yesterday was the inclusion of a really bold and obvious white supremacy symbol," Collins said. "It seemed sinister but none of us knew what it meant" — until a quick Internet search.

"The message goes on to call the senator by a profoundly misogynistic slur, and states '109 soon 110,'" the senator said in a statement from the office. Those two numbers, she says, are recognized by the Anti-Defamation League, as "white supremacist shorthand for the anti-Semitic claim that Jews have been expelled from 109 different countries, and that the U.S. or some other location would be the next and 110th place to expel Jews."

Kaplan's parents sent her to the United States when she was 13 due to fears violence would erupt against Jews during Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution; she later was granted political asylum by this country. Her parents eventually joined her.

Kaplan, who says she is the first refugee from the threat of anti-Semitic violence elected to the State Legislature, has stressed the importance of Holocaust education.

"As a former religious refugee who fled anti-Semitism in my birth country, I have seen firsthand how anti-Semitism begins to permeate a society and ultimately lead to violence against Jewish people," Kaplan said in a statement.