As you all know by now, since the election of President Trump, the number of anti semitic incidents in the United States has risen dramatically. In the ten days following the election, for example, there were more anti semitic incidents. Since then headstones at Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Rochester have been overturned; more than 100 Jewish institutions, mainly JCCs, in at least 26 states and one Canadian province have received bomb threats; synagogues and Jewish schools have been vandalized; swastikas drawn in New York City subway cars; and Jewish families harassed by neo-Nazis. Anti Semitic incidents on college campuses are also on the increase.
In New York City, the NYPD, reported that anti-semitic incidents were up 94 percent over this time last year. 35 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in January and February of this year.
President Trump finally spoke out against anti semitism, but that does not seem to have made any difference.Despite the arrest of an alleged perpetrator of eight of the JCC calls, most likely a copycat caller, yesterday at least ten Jewish Community Centers and four Anti Defamation offices received threats.
But the increase in anti semitic incidents cannot be blamed on Trump followers alone. In both 2014 and 2015 there were more far more hate crimes in the U.S. targeting Jews than any other religious group. An ADL study in 2015 found that about 9% of the U.S. population harbors anti semitic views. There was a 45% increase in campus anti semitism during the first half of 2016.
There were more anti semitic incidents in the UK last year than any year since 1984, when they first started keeping records, a whopping 1309 anti semitic incidents (an average of over three incidents daily).
While France’s 450,000 Jews are less than one per cent of the country’s population, over 50% of racist attacks in the country are against Jews.
However, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center designed to gauge Americans’ feelings toward various religions showed that Jews elicit the “warmest” feelings of any religious group. The finding held true across all groups — Catholics, Protestants, atheists and members of all age groups, although among millennials, Buddhists were regarded more warmly than Jews. Too few Muslims were interviewed to accurately determine their feelings towards Jews.
Acts of kindness and concern followed many of the anti semitic attacks. Muslims raised money to restore a vandalized cemetery and the Senate sent a unanimous letter to the White House urging it to boost security measures at Jewish institutions and assure that hate crimes were investigated and punished.
So what’s going on here? Here are a few possible explanations.
2014 was the year the Gaza war took place and anti Israel rallies often contained heavy anti semitic overtones. In Seattle, posters depicted a Jew eating a gentile child accompanied by a cup of blood to wash it down.
The election of Donald Trump who was supported by the alt right has apparently given some people the mistaken impression that, after years of political correctness, it’s now OK to publicly display racism and anti semitism.
The far left also suffers from anti semitism, as has been demonstrated at various college campuses throughout the country and its support of the BDS movement.
So are these recent incidents the work of a crazy biased individual or group of individuals, or are they symptomatic of a larger problem?
The constant barrage of anti Israel propaganda coming from both the media and the United Nations has contributed to creating the mistaken feeling that Israel is a bully that harms poor, innocent Palestinians who just want freedom and their own state. (This Palestinian propaganda could not be further from the truth). Some of this has been generalized to include Jews everywhere, who are all seen as supporters of Israel, though this is, alas, not the case.
Trump’s support for Israel may have angered a few anti semitic individuals who have decided to act against Jewish institutions.
But whatever the cause, Jews should not fear. The vast majority of American citizens like Jews and Jews are not in imminent danger. Because there is no state sanctioned Anti Semitism does not mean that Anti Semitism in America is not a reality. Those who truly want to live a fully Jewish life without the need to hide their identity or Jewish practices, should move to Israel. Those who choose to remain here and in other countries of the world should remain vigilant, but secure in the knowledge that, should the situation worsen, Israel is waiting for them.
Purim is almost here- Sundown March 11-Sunset March 12. As we will read in the Megillah, Purim is the story of an anti semite who tried to destroy all the Jews in the Persian kingdom. His plan was foiled by Queen Esther and he and his followers were ultimately killed. The Jews united then and the Jews should unite now, and make sure to be there for each other and to help one another.
Let us pray that, as we were saved then, the Jewish people should continue to be saved, our enemies should be defeated, and the State of Israel should continue to prosper.
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