A response to anti-Semitism in wake of rising hate crimes

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By Mitzpeh Staff
@Mitzpeh

An anti-Trump protest in Chicago on March 11, 2016 (Photo Credit:Wikipedia)

An anti-Trump protest in Chicago on March 11, 2016 (Photo Credit:Wikipedia)

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the highest office in this country, there have been an increased number of hate crimes against many marginalized communities. These acts of hate range from a white teacher calling her black students the n-word in a classroom in Baltimore, to a swastika drawn on a wall at American University. Children of immigrant families are now fearing that they will be deported and Muslim women wearing hijabs are being told by some Trump supporters that their scarves will soon be illegal.

When looking at all of this, it is first important to remember that it is not Donald Trump that is perpetrating these hate crimes, and in an interview with “60 Minutes” he told the people committing these acts of hate to stop. However, the rhetoric of some of his policies inspired those who are racist, sexist and homophobic.

In this time of heightened racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and islamophobia, the Jewish communities of the United States must be wary of heightened anti-Semitism. It is the duty of our communities to respond to overt acts of vandalism and vicious threats against Jewish people for the sole reason that they are Jewish.

One way we can begin is by first checking ourselves. We should not normalize anti-Semitic behavior, by making anti-Semitic jokes and saying, “It’s OK, I’m Jewish.” We can stand up to our friends who have similar logic, “It’s OK, I have Jewish friends.” Tell these jokesters that these moments of laughter can lead to hate.

For instance, there  are those who  joke about the stereotype that Jews have horns (if you were wondering, we don’t). If you jokingly talk about how your yarmulke or Jew-fro hides your horns and someone who doesn’t know better overhears you, they could spend a lifetime believing it, going up to the next Jewish person they meet and sincerely asking where their horns are. While this may sound ridiculous to a college-educated audience, especially one like this university which is comprised of a fairly large Jewish community, some Jewish people have been asked this very question.

There is a quote from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” that is very relevant here: “it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

We, the Jewish community in America, cannot become complacent because Trump has Jewish children and grandchildren. We cannot become complacent because many figured Trump to be Israel’s best ally in this election. We must understand that this anti-Semitic behavior is not coming from governmental policy, but from a hate that was ignited during this election by the alt-right, the neo-nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and those who believe that America is great when it is a white Anglo Christian patriarchy.

The other part of standing up to anti-Semitism is to forgive, even if we don’t forget. It is to stay vigilant, but not hateful. If the Jewish community degrades and berates those who hate us, we will never be able to claim any sort of higher ground and we will certainly never be able to build bridges with these people and get them to see Jews and others in a different way. We do not think communities should be naive about those who seek to harm Jews, but we should make sure that everyone in our larger communities is accounted for, is fed, has clothes and has a roof over their head. We must love each other without reason. We must build up our communities on welcomeness and openness. We have to take care of each other, because in the end, we are all human beings who can afford basic decency.

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