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Startling Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents Strengthens Our Resolve to Pursue Justice

Startling Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents Strengthens Our Resolve to Pursue Justice

In the weeks immediately following the most recent election, a startling jump in anti-Semitic incidents swept across the country. New York State alone saw a 110% increase in hate crimes, mostly targeting Jews, in the month following the election. University students have awoken to find swastikas and hateful messages scrawled on dorm room doors, among other on-campus incidents. Hateful actions and remarks haven’t been limited to just Jews, as Muslim, Latino, and African Americans have also been targeted in these attacks.

The rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the weeks following the election has led much reflection on what this means for the American Jewish community.  While Jews have enjoyed a considerable degree of privilege and prosperity in America in recent years and generations, these crimes and hateful rhetoric are only a fresh spate in a long history of ostracism that seeks to designate Jews as an “other,” outside of mainstream American society.

The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics Report for 2015, released shortly after the election, showed a notable uptick in the total number of hate crimes, with a 23% increase in religion-based crimes. In addition to an increase in hate crimes against Jews, the statistics for hate crimes against Muslims revealed a startling 67% increase. These statistics reflect a concerning rise in hateful rhetoric targeting Muslims over the last year and highlight the tangible impacts that hate speech has on groups like Muslims, who are often demonized in media depictions.

Hateful rhetoric is dangerous because it spurs hateful activities and violence. In the mountain resort town of Whitefish, MT, white supremacists have targeted Jewish residents by publishing their photographs with Holocaust-era yellow stars declaring “Jude.” A neo-Nazi group submitted an application to the city of Whitefish to host a march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day; in response, the group Love Not Hate hosted a rally on January 7 in solidarity with their Jewish neighbors. Footage from the event is available here. In another concerning episode on January 9, 16 JCCs and other Jewish organizations across the country received unfounded bomb threats, forcing many of them to evacuate into sub-freezing temperatures. Less than two weeks later, a second wave of bomb threats targeted some 30 JCCs and Jewish institutions.

Because persecution is an unfortunately prominent component of the Jewish narrative, we understand that we cannot remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism. Rather, we must raise our voices against anti-Semitism and against hateful rhetoric other faith or marginalized groups. We will continue to stand against hatred and bigotry, and with anyone whose rights are infringed upon.

To learn more about the RAC’s work on issues of pressing importance and how you can get involved, visit the RAC’s Urgency of Now page. You can also find more information on the RAC’s anti-Semitism page.

Shelby Friedman is a 2016-2017 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Shelby is from Dallas, TX, where she is a member of Temple Emanu-El. She graduated from Middlebury College. 

Shelby Friedman

Published: 1/24/2017