In this week’s news, Jewish students were hospitalized following an attack by Arab youth in Poland, Barcelona’s largest synagogue was vandalized with the graffiti to “Free Palestine,” a Texan judge who sentenced a Jewish inmate to death called him “that f—kin’ Jew” and said that Jews “needed to be shut down because they controlled all the money,” and New York appointed a new hate crimes chief following a police report showing a 64 percent rise in hate crimes, with those against Jews nearly doubled. The spate of violent attacks against Hasidim in Brooklyn is scary beyond belief.
Can hatred against the Jewish people be stopped? While education and other efforts may reduce the numbers or allow us to track it better, history sadly tells us, it can’t.
As I pointed out in my blog, Why anti-Semitism in America warrants attention, its history in the U.S. goes back to colonial times. And even though we laugh at the joke about Jewish history, “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat,” Jews have been the object of hate and persecution for thousands of years.
A grassroots organization called Combat anti-Semitism is hoping to tap help from new sources, offering cash prizes in a number of different categories. “’This irrational hatred of Jews and the world’s only Jewish state harms both innocent victims and perpetrators infected by bigotry,’ explains the CAS website. ‘The resurgence of anti-Semitism poses a challenge to all people of conscience: How can we work together to stop anti-Semitism? This contest is crowd-sourcing new solutions to help end the world’s oldest hatred.’” The deadline is December 1. Whatever can be done to reduce hate is welcome in my eyes, but sadly I do not believe anti-Semitism can ever be fully eradicated.
Here in Atlanta, the U.S.’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism will be speaking on Stopping Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hate and Intolerance on September 15, 2019 at 6:00 pm at the Atlanta Jewish Academy in Sandy Springs. Tickets, which can be ordered online ($10 General Admission, free for students), are required for security sake. The speaker, a former international president of the Jewish frat AEPi, now advises the Secretary of State and oversees global U.S. efforts against anti-Semitism. I will be there and look forward to learning how anti-Semitism can be and is being reduced. He has an interesting background, per the Eventbrite site, “As the son of Iraqi Jewish refugees who fled persecution, Special Envoy Carr speaks Hebrew and the Iraqi dialect of Arabic. While deployed in Iraq in 2003 to 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he met with remnants of the Jewish community there and led Jewish services in the former presidential palace of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.”
As I learned (and wrote about) last year from the Breman Museum’s exhibit on Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage (which was based on documents retrieved from Hussein’s palace’s basement), Jews lived in Iraq for 2,500 years, but didn’t face as ugly and as dangerous an episode of anti-Semitism there as they did during the Farhud, a devastating pogrom that took place on June 1-2,1941. Later, in the 1950s, most of the country’s Jews, like those in so many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, fled and moved to Israel. I mentioned how my former in-laws were among those who arrived from Tunisia in my very first blog, I read the news. And my heart hurts., that I wrote following the racist and anti-Semitic rally in Charlottesville, VA a little over two years ago.
And you know what? I still read the news. And my heart still hurts.