Anti-Semitism is still alive and occurring frequently. There are people in this country who would like to exterminate all Jews. These people would like to see the Jews murdered in a gas chamber the way their ancestors were. There are awful memes floating the Internet saying just that.
Breathe that statement in. Sends chills down your spine, doesn’t it?
Some of you can relate. Many of you cannot relate.
Having a good understanding of history, it is something I have always known. Six million Jewish people were brutally murdered by Nazis during World War II. Going back further through history you will find the Jewish people were often targeted.
Many Jews in the US have also had the privilege to be born here and not have to think much about it until recently. They are relatively assimilated into society. Some also have the ability to hide their Jewish identity if they choose.
Over the past few years, the country that Jewish ancestors immigrated to in order to escape hate, has become less safe for today’s population because of a rise in anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is Rapidly Rising
It was just a few days ago when a white supremacist brutally executed 11 Jewish people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. One of the victims survived the Holocaust only to find death at the hands of a Nazi in America.
The Jewish people make up two percent of the population. According to the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism, in 2016, 54.4% of hate crimes committed in the United States were anti-Semitic.
Say that out loud. Over HALF the hate crimes committed in this country, 71 years after the Holocaust ended, were against the Jewish people, a tiny fragment of the population.
A Dangerous Time to be a Jew in America
In 2017, the percentage of anti-Semitic hate crimes grew by 57 percent, making it the most dangerous year to be a Jew in America since they began keeping statistics in 1979.
It was within the last two years that I saw a man in Tampa with a proudly displayed swastika. It was jarring, to say the least, but not surprising with the current climate of this country.
The hateful rhetoric that circulates continuously is aiding this rise in anti-Semitism. Conspiracy theories that have always existed among extremists are now finding a home outside of their fringe groups. Anti-Semitism is becoming more accepted on college campuses as debates about Israel cause controversy.
Social media has not yet found a way to regulate the hate. In fact, a popular Jewish humor Instagram page recently had an incident where Instagram deleted her post showing all the hateful, anti-Semitic memes she is sent. (Instagram has since restored the post, but was not transparent about their decision.)
I share this because we are often ignorant of the plight of others, by virtue of it not being our own experience.
Build Bridges Towards an Inclusive Future
We need to ensure that anti-Semitism in America does not become normalized.
We need to condemn the offensive and vile memes, and the stereotypes that prevail across the Internet. We need to ensure our children learn to love and accept people of all races, religions, and creeds.
It is imperative to teach our children about the belief systems others possess and most importantly, that everyone has a right to have a different view.
We need to raise children who will grow to build bridges, not walls. Our children’s lives will be better if we put in the work to truly make our country an inclusive melting pot. It is our duty as parents bringing up the next generation to rise above and defeat hate.
Look into your innocent child’s eyes, envision the world you want them to be a part of and remember hate has no place in our society.