Opinion: We must act now to stop recent rise in antisemitism


Credit: Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Templar1307

WSPN’s Emily Roberge discusses the nation’s recent rise in antisemitism following the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Emily Roberge

If you have tuned into the news in the past week, then you’ve probably heard about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Although it seems like this is a recent dispute, both Israelis and Palestinians share a long, complicated history. Jews and Arabs have been in disagreement over who has the right to the land for a few thousand years, however, it wasn’t until the early 20th century when both nations started a political conflict. With recent events, a rise in antisemitism has unfolded, and it’s truly terrifying.

Although the “real” fighting isn’t happening on US soil, its remnants have been seen in recent days as antisemitic attacks have been increasing rapidly. According to Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, there has been a 63% increase in antisemitism in the United States as a result of the recent international conflicts. He said, “The span of these attacks, they spread like wildfire across the country,” including California, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Florida. Across America, attacks against Jewish people have ranged from people throwing bottles and objects at Jewish homes, screaming threats like “We’re going to rape your woman” and beating them up in broad daylight. Not only is this deeply disturbing but disgusting. Where are our morals and plain respect for other humans? When will these acts of violence end?

I feel like our country has taken steps backward. The First Amendment declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” however, how can one practice their religion if it comes at the expense of being beaten in broad daylight or fearing for your life by wearing a Star of David? One specific example of this was in Times Square, New York, roughly 199 miles away from Wayland. A man was beaten in the daylight for wearing a kippah. People attacked him to the point where he was no longer conscious. People continued to kick at him like he was an animal as if he was not deserving of “normal” human decency. Let’s be honest: Would this have ever happened to a Catholic person if they were wearing a cross?

Although we cannot control the actions in Gaza that may have sparked the “antisemitic wildfire,” the United States does have the lighter. We are responsible for the culture we have created in our country. A culture where politicians like House Representative Majorie Taylor Greene can compare the mask mandates in place to the Holocaust, a culture where politicians do not condone the rising antisemitism and hatred in fear of losing their own power and a culture where it has become unsafe to be Jewish.

Despite antisemitism in America not being a new occurrence, its severity has grown to an alarming amount in recent years. The FBI’s most recent statistics on hate crimes describe that 2019 hate crimes reached an all-time high in more than a decade as 7,314 incidents occurred. The most startling statistic was that out of 1,521 hate crimes associated with religion, over two-thirds people commit against Jews.

This is not an issue that is going to fix itself. We haven’t seemed to make much progress even after the horrific genocide of over six million Jews in Europe, or if we have, it has been overpowered by those posing anti-semitic and ill-intended ideas. The fact that the tweet, “Hitler was right” has been retweeted more than 17,000 times between May 7-14 makes me ashamed of our country. We are in dire need of a reality check. First of all, lawmakers must condemn antisemitism and put human decency before their need for voter approval. Some lawmakers are concerned their pro-Palestinian constituents may not support this view. At the end of the day, politicians need to realize that the safety of their people is more important than their need to align with their political party. We as a society are also going to need to come together to resolve this never-ending hatred. For now, the attacks against Jews continue to rise.

To make these changes, we must reassess our morals. Specifically, we must abolish the stereotypes and unnecessary hatred towards Jewish people. Of course, this is easier said than done as Jews have been continuously persecuted for thousands of years; however, we must start to make a change sooner rather than later. We have to find the kindness and respect for each other that we so desperately need.

No matter what events have occurred within Gaza, and no matter whose side you may be on, this is not how we treat people. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice or where you come from, we cannot have the recent violence overseas serve as an excuse for bitter hatred within our country, and ultimately our world. If this doesn’t frighten you, I don’t know what will.

The recent attacks by Americans against Jewish people have offered me a great deal of perspective. Although I am not Jewish myself and have not experienced any sort of persecution personally, I am there for those that have experienced anything. I stand with those that believe that we need a change once and for all. I stand with those who are scared to practice their religion freely and to express their beliefs. I stand with those who are done with hearing about yet another antisemitic attack. All I know is something must change.