Anti-Semitism in America is a major problem: opinion

Hate crimes against Jews and against Jewish institutions have been on the rise around the world, and the United States is no exception. The numbers are astonishing. The crimes are heinous. Anything and all “Jews” are a target.

With this in mind, I reread the study “The State of Anti-Semitism in America” ​​published by the American Jewish Committee. The figures they report are staggering. These acts of hatred have affected all areas of Jewish life. Around the synagogues. In cafes. In streets. Jewish-looking Jews have portholes on their backs.

In response to a survey question that asked respondents if they had changed their behavior or clothing to avoid anti-Semitism, 39% of American Jews answered “yes.” They changed their behavior out of fear of anti-Semitism. I find that number terrifying. Almost half of those surveyed fear anti-Semitism to the point that they have changed their behavior in a determined attempt not to be subjected to anti-Semitic reprimands.

The study also reported that 24% of American Jews have been targeted by anti-Semitism. Some have experienced physical attacks, others have been subjected to vocal anti-Semitism, and still others to online comments. That is another staggering number. That means that, in one way or another, one in four Jews has been personally and directly attacked for being a Jew.

The study ran for a month, from September 1 to October 3.

People attend a march in New York against anti-Semitism with yellow stars saying never again, January 5, 2020 (credit: JFNA).

A total of 1,433 Jews were questioned. The sample was representative of the entire United States. And 90% of those surveyed said anti-Semitism was a problem.

HOW do we make sense of this rise in anti-Semitism, what I call Jewish hatred?

Anti-Semitism in America is a bipartisan issue. And political parties on both sides have stood together on the issue. Yet at the same time, neither side has done enough to crush the extremists. Neither has done enough to stop the sizable, vocal and involved segment of their supporters: those who hate Jews.

Right and left, across the political spectrum, there is an ugly strain of Jewish hatred. By all rights, America’s political leadership should mobilize, root out, and call out the haters. Instead, and surprisingly, both sides have allowed hatred of Jews to escalate and even grow.

Like crime, shoplifting, and random attacks, all of which are on the rise across America, hatred of Jews in America has become acceptable. Blaming the Jews and Israel for oppressing the Palestinians has become a standard deception. It is a trope. It is used in everyday language. Hatred of the Jew has become common. Hating Jews and hating Israel on the pretext of defending the Palestinians has become a justification for hatred of Jews.

And, this is the most devastating and damning aspect of this horrible situation, one of the reasons that hatred of Jews has become so prevalent and so acceptable in the US is that some of the purveyors of this hatred they are themselves Jews.

Yes, hatred of Jews exists and is on the rise, but attacks and violence are sometimes carried out by genuine liberals who fight racism when it attacks others. But it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s allowed when they do it because they don’t like how they dress or the synagogue they attend, or because they support Israel.

Those liberal and conservative extremists who perpetrate hatred of Jews must be expelled from the mainstream and returned to the margins. Their views cannot and should not be mocked like other political ideas. They are guilty of hate crimes.

People should not be afraid to be Jewish, to appear Jewish, to act Jewish in the United States of America. Nor, actually, anywhere in the world. And the Jewish people should not be ashamed because there are those who, unlike them, have not assimilated, they do not mix, specifically because they look and act like Jews.

FOR MANY people and for many years, Israel has been the safe haven. When the life of the Jews got tough, Israel was there. And it still is. But it was always people from other countries who ran to Israel because of the need for security and a new life. The Jews escaped the pogroms and ran to Israel. But not the Americans. The Americans moved to Israel, the Americans did not flee to Israel. It was a decision made out of desire, out of ideology and love, not out of desperation.

One of the weapons in Israel’s diplomatic arsenal has always been the backing of the United States. And one of the reasons for that endorsement was the strength of the Jewish world within America. Jews need to feel safe in America. Jewish leaders and political leaders need, directly and emphatically, to make this very clear. It is not acceptable to hate Jews.

And hopefully the reckoning will come soon. Actions against Jews must be thwarted. The American Jewish Committee has put the issue and the numbers in the spotlight. Now it is up to legislators, law enforcement officials and leaders to reduce those numbers.

It is up to them to restore the sense of trust that American Jews once had, living as Jews, in America.

The writer is a columnist and social and political commentator.

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