While the incident occurred decades ago, it appears that antisemitism returned to the mainstream, causing Jewish people to feel uneasy.
For example, artist Ye, better known as Kanye West, got backlash from the public for making anti-Semitic statements. Meanwhile, many Americans expressed outraged when former President Donald Trump met with a Holocaust denier. Aside from this, authorities have reported numerous crimes against Jewish residents throughout the years.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, 2021 witnessed the greatest anti-Jewish harassment, assault, and vandalism on record. In 1979, the group began recording these instances. And they think that 2022 will conclude similarly to last year.
The ADL said that people perpetrated these horrible atrocities on occasion over the years. In 2018, for example, a shooter slaughtered 11 Jewish attendees at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
Furthermore, two years ago, some anti-Jewish protestors, such as those in Charlottesville, Virginia, destroyed Jewish schools and community centers and distributed anti-Semitic literature.
“Two young Orthodox boys played in their yard in California and were shot with red paintballs. And we saw pictures of them. And I mean, it was heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking,” said Emily Snyder from the ADL.
“Jews center in a lot of conspiracy theories, especially around economy or power or greed or whatever. Those are core antisemitic tropes. So when we start to see unrest, we tend to see antisemitic incidents climb,” she added.
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Antisemitism within the political sphere
According to Snyder, numerous politicians have also perpetrated antisemitic acts. And some of them are obvious. For example, Trump met with Ye, who people previously chastised for anti-Semitic remarks. In addition, the former leader met with a Holocaust denier. Snyder concluded that antisemitism is still very much alive in the broader political realm in the United States.
“That’s old-school, classic modern antisemitism coming from the 1870s and eighties and nineties into the 20th century,” Jewish Studies professor Joshua Shanes said.
“There’s rhetoric that’s accepted today that simply never would have possibly been accepted a generation ago, not since the 1930s. People call it [political correctness], but there’s a benefit to saying it is unacceptable to be openly racist, to be openly antisemitic. And if you are, you will not win political office. But that has gone away.”
“And I used to show it to my students. I’d say, okay, let’s dissect it. What antisemitic myths do you see here? Let’s find them all. I don’t do it anymore because I’m concerned they’ll be persuaded by it,” he added.
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Affecting the Jews
The recent incidents of renowned and influential persons supporting and conspiring with antisemitic groups instilled terror in Jewish communities. Experts and lecturers are concerned that this may propagate hatred toward the Jewish population. Deborah Lipstadt, a US special envoy, entrusted with combating antisemitism, expressed concern that the phenomena may legitimize anti-Jewish violence and harassment.
“It’s both physical dangers — we just commemorated the anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue [shooting], where people were murdered just for going to synagogue,” she said.
“It’s also little kids learning that instead of [being Jewish] being a source of joy, it’s something that can bring you bodily harm.”
“There have always been threats, and there’s always been antisemitism. But it feels like an epidemic right now. And the spread of hate and lies is just happening at lightning speed, and Kanye opened the floodgates a couple of weeks ago with his comments,” added Beth Kean, Holocaust Museum LA CEO.
Photo Credit: Jeenah Moon
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