Antisemitism Every Day
By Rolene Marks
Every day. Every day we are reminded that it is everywhere. The cancerous hatred that is antisemitism today is rapidly metastasizing around the world.
It has manifested in the images of swastikas on schools, the defilement of monuments to the Holocaust, the thin disguise as anti-Zionism - as if telling us that we have no right to self-determination as a nation makes it better.
The phenomenon of politicised modern antisemitism that lurks the halls of the UK Labour Party, as well as the ill-disguised venom of the Ilhan Omars, Linda Sarsours et al that are pervading American discourse.
The soccer thugs chanting "Jews to the gas" and the repugnant images of the hook-nosed, money hungry Jews, the vile BDS campaigns against our state Israel, the institutionalised obsessive hatred in the UN and in NGOs who have forgotten about the oppressed of the world with their disproportionate focus on Israel.
As I write this, it is a matter of hours since news broke of yet another shooting in a synagogue in the USA. This time at the Poway Chabad in San Diego, killing one and wounding others. The attack occurred six months to the day of the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that claimed the lives of eleven. By now, there have been dozens more incidents that you have likely never heard of. Including attacks in Israel which are no less significant as expressions of violence and hate against the Jewish people.
Communities around the world are reeling because an attack on one is an attack on us all.
Modern antisemitism is visible in exclusionary snobbery and the trolls on social media who hide behind avatars and cowardice. Social media is fast becoming the playground of the hater evident in the number of posts and comments as the medium is abused by these perpetrators to state their intentions or publish their manifestos.
Every day. Every day more news breaks about antisemitic incidents on university campuses. It is not just restricted to students but also faculty members and universities who seek to divest from co-operation with Israeli universities. While volumes can be written about this, two examples include:
- Joining the cadre of American universities battling BDS resolutions and movements on their campuses, the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa’s top university is mulling an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
- A chemistry professor from Vermont’s Middlebury University posed the following question to his class: “Calculate the lethal dose of poisonous gas that was used in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.” He has been suspended but antisemitism is becoming mainstream and it is our duty to fight it.
Every day. Every day we see how more and more complicit the media is becoming in disseminating anti-Jewish rhetoric. It is alarming that many media outlets cannot seem to make the correlation between some of their content and rising antisemitism. One blatant example is a cartoon published in the international edition of the New York Times shows a blind Donald Trump, yarmulke on his head, being led by Netanyahu who is portrayed as a dog. This could quite easily have come from Der Sturmer circa 1939 and again traffics in a dangerous trope that was espoused by the Nazi’s and many hatemongers today who compare Jews as either controlling global leaders or as inhuman and like animals. The New York Times offered a weak apology that excluded “we are sorry” and then issued 2 more antisemitic images.
Every day. It is happening every day and the silence of the world that has not learnt from the history of the Holocaust is deafening. Today, space has been created for Holocaust revisionism and blatant denial. This is the greatest insult to the Jewish people and compounds an already spreading hatred that must be fought.
We are reminded again and again of what happens when hatred goes unchecked. It spreads like the malignant, rapidly metastasizing cancer that it is. But too many spend time pointing a finger of blame to one side or the other that we are not recognizing our obligation to take a stand, to act on our commitment to “Never Again.”
Every day, not only on Yom HaShoah, we need a reminder. We need to be reminded that the Holocaust started with words - not gas chambers.
Words from the left, from the right, from extremists and moderates alike, from college professors to high school students and between friends. Words that are obvious and blatant, words of violence and calls for murder, and words that mask resentment, judgment, stereotypes and anger that bubble under the surface of too many mainstream individuals who find themselves drawn to the hate.
We need to be reminded that hatred and intolerance against Jews requires a response - not on a ceremonial vigil, but an active reaction that proclaims we will not allow the lies and hate to spread.
Every act of antisemitism is an attack against every Jew, and it belongs to us all. This is not just an issue of what kind of Jew you are, where you live, who is to blame, or the antisemitic claim that Israel’s existence as a Jewish democratic nation state contributes to the growth of hate.
The time is now. Do we choose to stay silent and complicit or raise our voices and take a stand? After the Holocaust we declared NEVER AGAIN. Never again has become every day. Whether it is the far left or the alt-right, political figures or campus activists, the media or non-governmental organisations and once-revered global institutions, this hatred needs to be checked. And we must find our voice individually and collectively because NEVER AGAIN - well, it is happening again. Every day.
ENOUGH is ENOUGH.
Food for Thought:
- Ask each other the following questions, “Are you afraid?”, “How do you cope with the fear?”, “Does it affect your Jewish identity?”
- Why does it seem so difficult to talk about something that is more and more obvious every day?
- Why do you think fears of growing antisemitism is considered paranoia but other forms of racism such as against blacks or Muslims are actively publicly identified and called out?
- How can a single person make a difference when there is so much hate to fight?
- Why is it not ok to be more concerned about antisemitism as a Jew than about other hatred against other people? Why does it feel that we have to apologize for the hate and lies thrown against us?
- How can you open discussions with friends or colleagues about the topic of antisemitism randomly?
- Think of a simple, open-ended question about antisemitism that can allow people to freely express their thoughts without feeling judged. Ask your question to a friend or colleague - you might see that others are appreciative of an opportunity to share how they are feeling.