Hate on the Rise

Anti-Semitism is the belief that Jewish people are inferior. One of the world’s largest genocides, the Holocaust, was fueled by hatred towards Jewish people. The Holocaust was responsible for the murder of six million Jews throughout Europe. Seventy-four years later, hate crimes against Jews are still common, and anti-Semitism is rising. The New York Times article “Anti-Semitic Attacks Fuel Continuing Rise in Hate Crimes in New York” states that there have been “55 hate crimes reported in New York City this year as of February 17, an increase of 72 percent over the same period last year” and “Anti-Semitic crimes made up almost two-thirds of that, for a total of 36 crimes reported so far this year, compared with 21 last year.” So, why is hate on the rise?

“I think there has really been a change in the country,” said Hewlett East Rockaway Jewish Center Rabbi Andrew Warmflash. Warmflash believes the growing popularity of Anti-Semitism is mostly because of social media. According to the article “A Gunman Slaughtered 11 Jewish Worshippers. Then People Hunted for Hate Online” on CNN’s website (CNN.com), many people search Google, typing in anti-Semitic comments such as, “Jews must die” and “I hate Jews.” Warmflash described many of the people committing hate crimes as “lone actors.” As CNN shows, one lone actor can influence hate from others and cause it to spread, especially online, where everyone has access to comments and news. Having connection to many people on the Internet helps haters find other haters, causing anti-Semitism to rise.

In a New York Times article, the Pittsburg shooting in October 2018 was referred to as a massacre. At the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburg, gunman Robert D. Bowers killed eleven people and injured six. Bowers had no criminal history, but he had posted about his anti-Semitic views in the past, and according to a CNN article entitled “Here’s What We Know So Far about Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect,” Bowers had a license to carry firearms. The Washington Post’s website (washingtonpost.com) states that President Donald Trump believes armed guards outside the synagogue could have prevented the shooting. While many believe this is true, people still believe having armed guards outside a place of worship would take away the warm, welcoming feeling of the synagogues. Security measures depend on size, budget, and temple. In Potomac, Maryland, the largest conservative temple has armed police during services, schooling, and events. For many synagogues, security is large part of their budget, but it is also a large concern.

Another recent synagogue attack was in Apr. 2019. Alleged gunman John Earnest killed one person and injured three in a San Diego County synagogue. Lori Kaye, the only victim to die, was defending her rabbi during the shooting. According to a New York Post article, Earnest was charged with 109 hate crime charges and will face the death penalty. The article states that Earnest called the police after the shooting and claimed his motive was to “defend his nation against the Jewish people.”

According to a Politico magazine article “What Charlottesville Changed,” Charlottesville, Virginia, residents marched carrying torches, swastikas, and rifles shouting things like “White lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us.” Freshman Zack Cohen commented, “The rise of anti-Semitism is very uncomforting, especially in this country. Just because we are given freedom of speech, does not mean people should go around chanting that they hate Jews, which is ultimately leading to these shootings.”

The belief of anti-Semitism is also taking rise in many other parts of the world, especially in Europe. According to The Times of Israel, “A Jewish advocacy group in London has accused the [Labor] Party of ‘endemic anti-Jewish behavior’ and asked the government to investigate.” The Labor Party was formed to represent the interests of working people. Members of the party are accused of voicing and promoting anti-Semitic views, and Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leftist leader, is claimed to have overseen the rise of anti-Semitism in the party. A CNN poll showed that 34% of Europeans know little or nothing of the Holocaust, and 44% of Europeans believe anti-Semitism is a growing problem.

Freshman Emma Ward believes students should continue to learn about the Holocaust and other hate crimes “because being educated about these situations will help prevent them in the future.” Warmflash said that when people see anti-Semitic comments on the Internet, or when people make hateful jokes or statements, others should say something to prevent the spread of hate and anti-Semitism. Bowers’ hateful comments should have been investigated further, especially if he had a gun license. Social Studies Teacher David Rabinowitz explained, “That part of the political climate today is adding to division in religion.” A difference can be made to limit the growth of anti-Semitism and hate in general if people are more alert to signs of hate and do not let warning signs go unnoticed.