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Jewish Groups Fear an Increase in Hostility Following Words from Trump, Kanye West, and Kyrie Irving
Alvin Rosenfeld, one of the few Jews in Indiana, has always thought of Indiana University in Bloomington, where he teaches Jewish studies, as a university that is welcoming to Jews. The “Hoosier Hillel family” boasts its dedication to helping the school’s 4,500 Jewish students, who make up around 9% of the student body, feel like they are in their “home away from home” by offering more than 30 Jewish studies courses each year.
Rosenfeld claimed that pupils have more recently reported instances in which vandals removed or vandalized the mezuzahs, or customarily encased scripture scrolls, posted on their front doors.
According to Rosenfeld, who oversees the university’s Center for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, “a couple of weeks ago some idiot removed one, opened up the tube, and burned the scroll.” That is really unpleasant thing. Even while it’s undoubtedly malicious, you can’t help but believe that it’s antisemitic.”
From the streets of Los Angeles to the boroughs of New York, antisemitism events are on the rise, and Jewish leaders around the country are reporting growing anxieties. Last week, the FBI claimed it had received “reliable information of a wide threat” to synagogues in New Jersey.
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) November 8, 2022
High-profile individuals’ comments in recent months have not only heightened tensions but also suggested that antisemitism has entered the mainstream. Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, was banned from both Twitter and Instagram for violating the rules of both services after making antisemitic comments and threatening to “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE” in a since-deleted Oct. 8 tweet.
Kyrie Irving, a seven-time NBA All-Star, backed a claimed documentary last month that promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the idea that Jews covertly run the world. Irving has now apologized, but he has not made a clear stance against antisemitism.
The nation’s Jewish Americans were urged to “get their act together” on American support for Israel in another social media post from last month, which some political opponents took as a threat. Rabbi Noah Farkas, president, and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said, “People are extremely tense now.
There have been (anti-Semitic) leaflets dropped at people’s homes and banners over the 405 Freeway, and we’re hearing about college or high school students being accosted or people leaving swastikas on lockers almost every single day.”
Since 2016, there has been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the country. According to the Jewish civil rights organization Anti-Defamation League, there were 2,717 such incidents in 2017, a 34% increase from the year before and nearly triple the number in 2015.
On Friday, The Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella organization that represents more than 300 Jewish communities nationwide, released a statement expressing grave concerns “about the safety and security of our Jewish communities, i.e.
The current political climate is fueling fears of a repeat of tragedies like the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October 2018 that left 11 people dead and seven others injured, making it the deadliest antisemitic act in American history.
Three Jewish civilians were murdered in December 2019 by two anti-Semites at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey. Less than two weeks later, an hour to the north, a machete-wielding guy stabbed five people viciously during Hanukkah festivities at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York.
Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta and the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to track and oppose antisemitism, said, “This is reaching a crescendo.”
She claimed that orthodox Jews in Brooklyn frequently experience harassment on the streets. “They might tell people, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal,’ but it is a big deal because you know why it happened and it’s not random, and you start to get nervous about walking down the street. All of that has a drip-drip effect,” she said.
Joe Tsai, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, expressed disappointment that Kyrie Irving appears to support a movie “based on a book full of antisemitic misinformation” on Friday. Jewish leaders are concerned that Ye and Irving’s social media influence could have serious and dangerous repercussions despite the fact that both stars have received harsh criticism for their actions.
For example, Adidas, JPMorgan Chase, and the fashion house Balenciaga have cut their ties with Ye. Irving has also been suspended indefinitely by the Brooklyn Nets. Yeezy was “correct about the Jews” have since emerged on computer discussion boards in Florida and have been displayed on flags from motorway overpasses in the Los Angeles region.
In the past, remarks on social media were dismissed as irrelevant, according to Rosenfeld of Indiana University. He claimed that they originate from a variety of groups in the United States, including the far right, the far left, extremist Islamic groups, and sections of the Black community.
As a result of public figures making antisemitic remarks to their millions of followers, he claimed that “social media feeds these things,” and that as a result, “hostility of this sort, which has been around for a long time on the fringes, is more and more in the mainstream because the mainstream is defined in part by what’s on social media, reaching a great many people.”
The majority of Jews continue to live normal lives, but “they’re more careful and apprehensive,” he said. “In the past, even those who had antisemitic sentiments would keep them to themselves. There are now individuals who take pride in their antisemitism, which is a negative development.
Jews can’t take any chances in the US 1,400 Americans were surveyed by the American Jewish Committee last year. Jews discovered that 39% had changed at least one activity in the previous year because of concern for their safety, whether it was donning Jewish-identifying attire or going to Jewish events. According to Holly Huffnagle, the committee’s U.S. director for countering antisemitism, around a quarter of respondents had firsthand experience with the prejudice.
“We’re used to these numbers in Europe, but not here,” said Huffnagle, whose role has expanded to include social media and the workplace in addition to her former concentration on anti-Semitism on college campuses. She began in April 2020, at a time when there were several conspiracy theories accusing Jews of causing cancer.
Despite the fact that antisemitism has existed for millennia, he claimed that “many of us felt, naively so, that once it was generally established that anti-Jewish hatred might result in genocide, that those attitudes wouldn’t enter the public discourse. We were mistaken.
He claimed that despite their irrationality, the conspiracy theories that go along with antisemitism have almost become folklore and ingrained in everyday speech. To solve the situation, Rosenfeld suggested that Jews and non-Jews meet together over bowls of matzo ball soup “to mingle and get to know one other,” even though it might sound silly.