Race and Ethnicity

Why resurgent antisemitism in America is a problem for us all

By Boze Herrington The Week

Any time there’s an outburst of violence against Jewish people, my Twitter timeline erupts in surprise that Jews continue to be endangered.

It happened after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in 2018, and the shooting at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City the following year, and again in mid-January, when members of a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas were taken hostage by a gunman. Many weren’t previously aware, for example, that a growing number of synagogues are guarded by police or private security, or that some Jewish congregations engage in self-defense training in preparation for events like the one in Colleyville. (The rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel credited this training with saving his life and the lives of two other people.) But the threat to the Jewish community deserves our attention because it concerns everyone.

And those security precautions are warranted, for in the past decade, acts of bigotry and violence against Jewish people have rebounded with a fervor unparalleled in the post-war era. In Europe especially, hostility towards Jews seems to be increasing as the cultural memory of the Holocaust recedes. Cemeteries are desecrated; synagogues firebombed. A French student is beaten on the subway for speaking Hebrew; a London rabbi is hospitalized after being assaulted by two young men yelling “Kill the Jews!” A mob of more than three hundred protesters encircles a Parisian synagogue chanting, “Jews, get out of France!”

In America, things are hardly better, as Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Poway, and now Colleyville can attest. Despite comprising only 2 percent of the American population, Jews in the past year were the target of 57 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes. Amid the wave of pro-Palestinian protests that broke out in early 2021, there were numerous reports of street attacks on Jews assumed to be Zionists. Just last week, children standing outside a synagogue in Brooklyn were accosted by a woman who reportedly said, “Hitler should have killed you all,” then threatened to kill them herself.

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Categories: Race and Ethnicity

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