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Bonnie K. Goodman
Librarian, Historian, and Journalist

Antisemitism in the US today

Anti-Semitism in the United States. Source: Wikipedia Commons
Anti-Semitism in the United States. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Some might want to deny it, but antisemitism is a huge problem for North American Jewry

Colleyville attack, Holocaust remembrance, and persistent anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

An updated report on the state of anti-Semitism in the world shows just how rampant it is. On Monday, January 24, 2022, the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel released a report on anti-Semitism in the Diaspora on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The report indicates there were “10 anti-Semitic incidents occurred around the world every day last year, a 10-year high.” [1] The Jewish Agency is affiliated with the Israeli government, and it is “the executive branch of the World Zionist Organization.”

Despite rising incidents in North America, Europe was the epicenter of the anti-Semitic incidents, with nearly half occurring in Europe, 30 percent in the US, and “surprising” increases in Canada and Australia. The report found that 2021 was “the most anti-Semitic year in the last decade”, the good news was that “no Jew in the world has been murdered on anti-Semitic grounds” during the year. Most of the incidents were “vandalism and destruction, graffiti, and desecration of monuments, as well as propaganda.” While “Incidents of physical and verbal violence accounted for less than a third of all anti-Semitic incidents.” [2]

The Israeli-Hamas conflict in May was one of the main reasons behind the rising number of incidents. In May, many countries ended Covid-19 lockdowns, allowing for the people “to move around the public space again”, and rallies and protests came. All organizations who monitor anti-Semitism noted how that anti-Semitism increased multiple times the average amount over the fighting in Israel. The pandemic was the other reason for the mounting anti-Semitism. The report recounts, “Many demonstrations against the Covid vaccines and restrictions included Holocaust motifs, such as the yellow star, as well as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories accusing Jews as spreaders of the pandemic to control the world,” also there was an increase in “trivialisation of the Holocaust.” [3]

The organization, Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), also analyzed how Covid deniers use Holocaust analogies. CAM found “60 million online engagements” where they used they invoked the Holocaust in their arguments and conspiracy theories about Covid-19. The social media posts were mainly in English and Hebrew and Spanish. CAM chief Sacha Roytman Dratwa explained, “The trivialization of Nazi Germany’s crimes against humanity fuels Holocaust deniers who seek to downplay Nazi transgressions and allowing it to flourish unchecked has created safe spaces for anti-Semitic conspiracies, outright Holocaust denial, and other extremist ideologies to spread.” [4]

The Anti Defamation League says, according to its “Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in the United States,” they “recorded more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year.” [5] The ADL calls this “near historic levels.” The ADL recorded “five fatalities” and 91 “targeted physical assaults in the past year.” Most of the incidents noted were “assaults, harassments, and vandalism.” As ADL notes, “The deadly attacks in synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway have made American Jews feel more vulnerable than they have felt in decades.” [6]

The May 2021 Israel-Gaza conflict increased anti-Semitism and incidents multiple-fold. ADL saw a “75% increase in anti-Semitism.” AS ADL indicated, “The figure jumped from 127 incidents in the two weeks prior to fighting to 222 in the two weeks after violence broke out.” [7] More anti-Semitism because of social media, including 17,000 tweets, referenced Hitler and Nazism. Additionally, there have been “dozens of anti-Israel protests.” [8] Oren Segal, vice-president of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, noted, “Usually it’s not surprising to see a spike because of the invective and anger that comes with a conflict. A lot more protests, a lot more grievances, and at times that leads to a lot more expression of anti-Semitism and incidents of anti-Semitism.” [9]

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt expressed at the time, “As the violence between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate, we are witnessing a dangerous and drastic surge in anti-Jewish hate right here at home. We are tracking acts of harassment, vandalism, and violence as well as a torrent of online abuse. It’s happening around the world — from London to Los Angeles, from France to Florida, in big cities like New York and in small towns, and across every social media platform.” [10]

Unfortunately, not all anti-Semitic incidents are reported, or that ADL or Bnai Brith include. The numbers only include the direst attacks. These incidents must meet specific criteria and must be very direct. So many slights, microaggressions, or implied or indirect anti-Semitic incidents are not counted. The more passive-aggressive incidents are not included, these daily events might bring numbers out of control. In these situations, a student could be passed over for a scholarship, job, receive a terrible grade, etc., because they were Jewish or pro-Israel. Still, they are never told that is the reason directly; another reason is given. So much info is taken from social media that exposed people’s lives and open books. The same discrimination occurs with other racial and religious minorities, where they are passed over for the sound of their name.

Distain and lack of respect for Jews might be more rampant than the overt reported anti-Semitic incidents because they are harder to quantify. Tell anyone non-Jewish that something occurred can be traced to anti-Semitic feelings, and they tell you that you are overanalyzing or even as far as saying you are paranoid. However, the anti-Semitic feeling and hate for Jews is real and out there. As VOX senior reporter Jack Beauchamp pointed out the terrible reality, after the Colleyville attacks, “for the most part, the world has moved on. American Jews, on the other hand, cannot — for good reason.” [11]

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a Professional Librarian (CBPQ) and historian. She is the author of “Silver Boom! The Rise and Decline of Leadville, Colorado as the United States Silver Capital, 1860–1896,” “The Mysterious Prince of the Confederacy: Judah P. Benjamin and the Jewish goal of whiteness in the South,” “We Used to be Friends? The Long Complicated History of Jews, Blacks, and Anti-Semitism,” and the viral article, “OTD in History… October 19, 1796, Alexander Hamilton accuses Thomas Jefferson of having an affair with his slave creating a 200-year-old controversy over Sally Hemings.”

Ms. Goodman has a BA in History and Art History, and a Masters in Library and Information Studies both from McGill University has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies, where she focused Medieval and Modern Judaism. Her research area is North American Jewish history, particularly American Jewish history, and her thesis was entitled, “Unconditional Loyalty to the Cause: Southern Whiteness, Jewish Women, and Antisemitism, 1860–1913.”

Ms. Goodman contributed the overviews and chronologies to the “History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2008,” edited by Gil Troy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and Fred L. Israel (2012). She is the former Features Editor at the History News Network and reporter at Examiner.com, where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She currently blogs at Medium, where she was a top writer in history and regularly writes on “On This Day in History (#OTD in #History)” Feature and on the Times of Israel. Her scholarly articles can be found on Academia.edu. She has over fifteen years of experience in education and political journalism.

[1] https://news.yahoo.com/anti-semitic-incidents-decade-high-153823763.html

[2] https://news.yahoo.com/anti-semitic-incidents-decade-high-153823763.html

[3] https://news.yahoo.com/anti-semitic-incidents-decade-high-153823763.html

[4] https://news.yahoo.com/anti-semitic-incidents-decade-high-153823763.html

[5] https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/anti-semitism/antisemitism-in-the-us

[6] https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/anti-semitism/antisemitism-in-the-us

[7] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57286341

[8] https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/preliminary-adl-data-reveals-uptick-in-antisemitic-incidents-linked-to-recent

[9] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57286341

[10] https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/preliminary-adl-data-reveals-uptick-in-antisemitic-incidents-linked-to-recent

[11] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/22889932/beth-israel-synagogue-hostage-attack-terrorism-antisemitism

About the Author
Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS is a librarian, historian, and journalist. She has a BA in History & Art History, an MLIS, Masters in Library and Information Studies both from McGill University. She has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program, where her thesis was entitled, "Unconditional Loyalty to the Cause: Southern Whiteness, Jewish Women, and Anti-Semitism, 1860-1913." She is the author of “Silver Boom! The Rise and Decline of Leadville, Colorado as the United States Silver Capital, 1860–1896,” and contributed the overviews and chronologies to the “History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2008,” edited by Gil Troy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and Fred L. Israel (2012). She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network and reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, Judaism, and news. She has a dozen years of experience in education and political journalism. She is currently expanding her article about Confederate cabinet secretary Judah Benjamin "The Mysterious Prince of the Confederacy: Judah P. Benjamin and the Jewish goal of whiteness in the South" into a full-length biography.
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