What’s old is still new

Antisemitism is everyone’s problem

A CAR with its windows shot out sits near a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, the day after an hours-long gun battle. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A CAR with its windows shot out sits near a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, the day after an hours-long gun battle.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
At Indiana University recently, 11 men viciously attacked three Jewish students. Days prior to that a synagogue was vandalized in Beverly Hills, and a man was arrested for pointing a gun at a Jew in Brooklyn.
Two gunmen armed with rifles recently opened sustained fire directly into a Jersey City, New Jersey, supermarket, killing three civilians including at least one Jewish employee. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says video surveillance shows the gunmen targeted the Jewish store. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared, “Violent antisemitism has turned into a national crisis.”
Recently in New York, a Jewish man walking to synagogue was beaten, slashed repeatedly, and left lying helpless on the ground by assailants who jumped out of a passing car.
In other incidents, three Jewish men were physically assaulted, a Jewish teenager was punched in an unprovoked attack, multiple Jews were targeted by eggs, and two windows of a Jewish girls’ school were smashed by a man carrying a gun.
With increasing frequency, these attacks are occurring in necessarily shared spaces, such as the subway, and within heavily Jewish-populated neighborhoods, such as Borough Park, Flatbush and Williamsburg.
This means Jews are not safe near their homes.
Similarly, murderous, antisemitic attacks this year in Poway, California, and last year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have demonstrated that Jews are also not safe in their houses of worship.
In Chicago, although Jews make up only 4% of the population, Chicago Police Department statistics show that they have been the victims of 81% of all religious-motivated hate crime in the city. This information was obtained, analyzed and published by the American Jewish Committee's Jason Rosensweig and Laurence Bolotin.
The increasingly perilous plight of Jews is a human rights concern that should resonate with all people of good will, irrespective of their own religious affiliation, if any.
Yes, President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order adding Antisemitic acts to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but more needs to be done, as antisemitic violence is growing globally, as well as in the US.
The FBI reported 105 violent antisemitic crimes in 2018, the highest number since it began keeping records, and 40% higher than in the previous year.
In September 2019, the New York State Police reported that antisemitic hate crimes in New York during the first part of 2019 were up 63% compared to 2018. The Anti-Defamation League reported that antisemitic incidents in America in 2019 were occurring at a record-breaking pace.
This is at a time when global awareness of the Holocaust has dimmed. A survey of Americans by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany shows 20% of millennials were not sure whether they had ever heard of the Holocaust. Some 70% of those polled said people seemed to care less about the Holocaust than before, with 58% stating they thought it could happen again.
Ignorance about the Holocaust provides fertile ground for pernicious Jew-hatred to take root. Through handbills, demonstrations and social media, antisemites pervasively promote the propaganda that enables and emboldens violent antisemitic crimes.
Despite antisemitic tropes, Jews represent only about 2% of the US population and cannot successfully combat antisemitism by themselves.
Law enforcement authorities must frustrate and punish antisemitic crimes. But effectively combating the antisemitic rhetoric that causes them requires a more robust campaign led by all people.
Each person is entitled – and every morally concerned actor is obliged – to condemn such reprehensible words and the vicious actions they inevitably produce.
What better time is there than this holiday season for people of good will to stand up?