For many Americans, anti-Semitism was believed to be a mentality of the past, or a problem that mainly affected Europe, but not the United States. Unfortunately, the attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh last October proved otherwise. Although the attack came as a surprise, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in recent years. Last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacists marched and spoke out against the Jewish community. Swastikas and other anti-Jewish graffiti are also becoming increasingly common. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 2017 saw a 57% rise in anti-Semitic incidents compare to the previous year. These incidents included assaults, vandalism, bomb threats, and anti-Semitic literature on college campuses. We need to work to eliminate such bigotry towards the Jewish community.
Violent attacks haven’t just been on the rise over the last year. In 1999, a white supremacist attacked a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, injuring five individuals. In 2014, another white supremacist attacked another Jewish Community Center, this time in Kansas City. Three people were killed.
One factor contributing to anti-Semitism is the false rumors and conspiracies that are circulated about Jews. These rumors have even spread to establishment sources. One such conspiracy revolves around George Soros, a Jewish donor to Democratic Party causes. He has been accused of financing groups of Hondurans and Guatemalans traveling to the US through Mexico. President Donald Trump has also claimed that those protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh were paid to do so by Soros. In order to reduce anti-Semitism, sources, especially establishment, need to stop encouraging false rumors about the Jewish community.
Another trend behind the rise in anti-Semitism, especially on college campuses, is the controversial topic of policy towards Israel. Many leftist activists believe that companies doing business in Israel should be boycotted. Some Jewish groups, however, believe that such policies are a form of anti-Semitism. College campuses need to encourage civil dialogue and provide ways for students with opposing viewpoints to engage with each other.
Anti-Semitism must be stopped. Our Jewish neighbors deserve to be respected, and live free from fear. One way to combat the recent rise in anti-Semitism is to halt the circulation of false rumors, especially conspiracies from establishment sources. College campuses are quickly becoming more hostile, as relations with Israel is a topic that causes a lot of friction. These campuses need to become spaces that encourage civil dialogue between different political groups. Anti-Semitism isn’t yet the mindset of the past we wish it to be, but by working together, we can start to eliminate bigotry towards the Jewish community.