There has been a rise of antisemitism throughout this time of racial tension and civil unrest. Antisemitism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.” Despite the talks about racism circulating the nation, yet no one speaks on the racism Jewish people face on a regular basis. I want to concentrate on the antisemitism spreading in New York City stoked by Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
A Brief History of Antisemitism
Antisemitism has been a problem since the days of the Old Testament, when the Hebrew people were persecuted, usually for being a monotheistic people in times of polytheistic rulers. In times of early Christianity, the Christians were looked at as a form of Judaism, being that Jesus was Jewish as were his disciples; in 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Jewish State, scattering the Jewish people throughout Europe and the Middle East. Eventually, Roman’s adopted Christianity into their culture as the religion of the Roman Empire, and Judaism was no longer able to coincide with them because their lack of belief in Jesus as the Messiah was a threat to their religious beliefs.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, during the next three centuries throughout the Middle Ages, the Jewish people became a victim of institutionalized racism, “Jews were forbidden to marry Christians, were prohibited from holding positions in government, and were prevented from appearing as witnesses against Christians in court. As Jews were officially being ostracized, certain bizarre fantasies about Jews arose in Northern Europe that foreshadowed the anti-Semitism of the 20th century. It was alleged that Jews had horns and tails and engaged in ritual murder of Christians.” This led to the rampant raping, pillaging, and massacring Jews by the Crusaders during the Crusades.
During the Black Plague, Jews were held responsible for the spread of the disease, and an estimated 100,000 Jews were murdered by being burned alive for suspicion of causing or spreading the Plague. Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, wrote in 1545 a pamphlet called The Jews and Their Lies, where he actively called for the slaying of the Jewish People. Increasingly, Jews were subjected to political, economic and social discrimination, resulting in the deprivation of their legal and civil rights. They were being restricted to living in ghettos. Beginning in the 13th century, Jews were required to wear a distinctive symbol (a badge and/or a pointed hat) so that they could be immediately recognized.
Jews were not allowed to own land, and Christianity didn’t allow the land owners to lend money for profit, many had no other option but to become moneylenders. This gave rise to a new Jewish stereotype that lives on today about Jewish people being stingy with money. Though most Jews lived in poverty, in places like Russia, they were blamed for all peasantry, and massacred in pogroms instigated by the Czar’s secret police. A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at the massacre or expulsion of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews. Between 1917 and 1921 alone, there were an estimated 60,000 Jews, men, women, and children, murdered in over 500 Jewish communities in Ukraine due to the pogroms that followed the Russian Revolution.
World War II, known to the Jewish people as the Holocaust or Shoah was the single most detrimental event to the Jewish population in recent history. From the beginning of the Holocaust in 1941 to the end in 1945, over six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis led by Adolph Hitler simply for being Jewish. Preceding this, the antisemetic ways of the past were initiated once again, stripping the Jewish people of all rights and their humanity before sending them in boxcars to be exterminated.
For a while it seemed the world had realized the mass persecution of the Jewish people was an actual problem that had to be stopped. In the 1960’s the Catholic church finally dropped the narrative that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, but as we get further and further away from World War II, the lessons learned about the lethal reality of antisemitism were left in the past, and antisemitism is back on the rise.
My Antisemetic Experiences
I don’t usually get personal in my articles, but I am Jewish by race and religion, and I have experienced antisemitism to different degrees throughout my life, and I have noticed it happening more with the current world of keyboard warriors who feel fearless behind their computer screens to by horrible to people of another race. However, this story I want to share is not mine, but my daughter’s.
When my daughter, we’ll call her Mini, was in second grade she experienced antisemitism. In her school they did a winter performance with all of the second grade classes together. My children have been raised Jewish since birth, and are very confident in their religion and culture. When the school’s song spoke of Jesus being their savior, Mini felt uncomfortable singing those words, and politely asked if she could sit out the song because she doesn’t believe Jesus is her savior. Her second grade peers were shocked that someone could possibly not believe in Jesus being the son of God, which is understandable for such young children. The teacher was respectful of Mini’s wishes to stand aside during that song, but she didn’t try to help the other kids understand that there are different religions and not everyone believes the same thing.
My daughter took her place in the class to sing the next song, also a Christmas song, and for days the boy behind her preceded to poke her repeatedly in the back while asking over and over, with a demeaning tone, “why are you Jewish? Why are you Jewish? Why don’t you love Jesus? Why are you Jewish?”
Mini asked him to stop multiple times, until she finally broke down in tears. Instead of trying to discover the source of her despair, the teacher sent her to the principal’s office for being disruptive! I got a call from the school letting me know what had happened, and that they were sorry she got reprimanded for being bullied. The teacher called me after school, and “apologized,” we’ll use the term loosely, for my misunderstanding of the Christmas song. I had not made a complaint about the song because I taught my children to be confident in their Judaic standings, and frankly find that to be a petty concern.
I told the teacher that though I found it to be inappropriate to have Jesus mentioned in a song in public schools, it was not the reason I was upset. I wanted her to speak with the mother or father of the boy who was picking on my child, and she refused to do so.
Though it is too late to make a long story short, I’ll cut to the chase; I ended up speaking to his mother myself, and she felt awful that her son had behaved in such an intolerant manner. Communication is so important when facing antisemitism. I could have gone in full blown attack mode in the name of defending my daughter, and instead I decided to have a conversation with a mother about Judaism, and she in turn taught her son about being respectful towards Jewish people. Hate begets hate, and communicating is the best tool in my toolkit.
Antisemitism in Modern America
There is antisemitism across the nation, usually showing its face through Islamic extremists, Palestinian alliances, and white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This is most commonly in the form of cyber harassment with a doubling in the percentage of people polled having experienced a Jewish race related cyber hate crime to from 2018 to June 2020’s 22% of Americans. The percentage of Americans that have been on the receiving end of antisemetic harassment was 33%, and 21% had experienced severe harassment! Religious-based harassment showed a clear upward trend as 43% of Jewish respondents reported they felt they were targeted with hateful content because of their religion, up from 16% reported last year!
There are groups that spew hateful rhetoric about the Jewish people such as Leila Khaled, longtime active leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and who has engaged in PFLP terrorist operations, keynoted an October 3, 2020 public webinar during which she expressed explicit support for violence and deep animus toward Zionists. Khaled claimed, “the Jews were oppressed…in Europe, by the Nazis. Now they are playing the same role of Hitler. They are playing the role…a new copy of Nazis just to end us.”
According to a recent article in Inside Higher Education, “reports show harassment and attacks on Jewish students [are] at an all-time high.” In just the last month classes have been disrupted by hackers crashing online classes with messages such as: “Adolph Hitler,” “F*CK JEWS FREE PALESTINE,” “Sieg Heil,” “Kill the Jews,” “Shlomo Rothschild,” “The Holocaust Never Happened,” as well as various swastikas and death threats.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations [FBI], has reported consistently that per capita, there are more hate crimes made on Jewish people than of any other demographic. Even under a bill awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature, which would force all California K-12 students to take a mandatory ethnic studies class; but even though California has one of the largest populations of Jews in the world, Jews will not be one of the ethnicities covered.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Through September , according to the New York Police Department, there were 163 reported incidents — an increase of 50 percent from that period the previous year. Anti-Semitic incidents make up a majority of reported hate crimes in New York City.” This is the highest number of hate crimes in New York City since 1992.
New York City seems to be a hotbed for antisemitism in modern day America with the mayor of New York City, Bill DeBlasio, constantly adding tinder to the antisemetic fire. There has been an increase in hate crimes against Jews since the beginning of the pandemic, and the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement, founded by antisemitic racists rioting across the nation does not help.
If you look at the Anti-Defamation League’s “Tracker of Antisemitism,” there is practically an antisemetic hate crime every day in America, and those are just ones that were reported. In the past few years, with the rise of BLM, there has also been a rise in antisemetic hate crimes. At least once every month there is an actual physical assault on a Jewish person for simply being Jewish in New York alone.
Staten Island’s 120th has seen the most hate crimes reported so far this year, new data released by the New York Police Department shows. There were 180 hate crime incidents reported to the NYPD since January 2020, 74 of which were directly related to the victim(s) being Jewish.
NYC Mayor DeBlasio, known for spending time with antisemites like Linda Sarsour, and holding communist ideologies, has made a few antisemetic threats directly to the Jewish community during the COVID-19 lockdown of NYC. There were times when he ignored rioting, yet sent the police to a Jewish funeral for a well-known Orthodox rabbi (for which they had gotten a permit to do) to shut it down. Here are a handful of statements and actions that came from DeBlasio and Cuomo that rubbed the Jewish people the wrong way and how they reacted:
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This is a civil war between Communism and America. There is no more Democrat vs Republican right now. America needs to be united in the party of Patriots who believe in our constitution and the inherent right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The radical Left has thrown their hail Mary, and we need to get our heads in the game and intercept that pass before it’s too late. Whether or not you believe Orange Man Bad, President Donald J Trump is the only hope for remaining a constitutional republic.