Jew-hatred burgeons in the US
Although it’s 55 years since I graduated from college, I still fondly remember my student life being enhanced by my membership in a Jewish fraternity. Today, I might have a different attitude, now that Jew-hatred (some call it antisemitism, a somewhat innocuous term.) A recent article in the Jewish Exponent describes the multiple incidents of harassment of the AEPi fraternity house at Rutgers, the State University of NJ. (Rutgers has one of the largest Jewish populations of American universities.) Like nearly all the similar incidents on college campuses, the perpetrators were pro-Palestinian students or provocateurs.
Events like this have become commonplace at many colleges and even in high schools, leading Jewish students to feel threatened and humiliated. Many students have reacted by hiding their Jewish backgrounds to avoid being a victim. As expected, but not always forthcoming, there have been statements by the Rutgers administration, in this case the school’s chancellor, condemning antisemitism. What was different at Rutgers is that in a 2021 incident the administrator’s statement was devalued by a subsequent apology to the school’s Muslims (!) after pushback from the SJP chapter (Students for Justice in Palestine). Its credo equates condemning antisemitism with denying Palestinian rights (sic).
Other campuses unfriendly to Jewish students include Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington Seattle, and Yale University. See Note below.
Many American Jews don’t know about, or minimize, the damage that Jew-hatred is causing to their children or grandchildren. This is especially prevalent in higher ranked educational institutions. The pro-Palestinian Arab groups, which are common on many campuses, are potent because of overly-lenient, timid administrations at most colleges, who are afraid to stand up to violence against Jews. You know, Islamophobia and all that. This is in contrast to the national abhorrence to racism against minorities of every type – except the Jewish minority.
It gets much worse. The Jerusalem Post just reported: “FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing that ‘antisemitism and violence that comes out of it is a persistent and present fact. The numbers that we’ve seen – about 63% of religious hate crimes overall – are motivated by antisemitism: And that’s targeting a group that just makes up about 2.4% of the American population.”’
Jew-hatred may emanate from one’s home, but it quickly spreads to the society. I don’t need to enumerate the several murders of Jews in synagogues, stores, or city streets that are now common and out of proportion, as Christopher Wray noted. He also said that, “according to the ADL, the second highest number of reported [Jew-hating] incidents was recorded in 2021.”
On November 19, the Jerusalem Post headlined, “Waves of bomb threats hit Jewish schools across the US. At Jewish day schools in Texas and Pennsylvania, bomb threats were made to these institutions, forcing them to evacuate for student safety. This follows a consistent uptick in antisemitic attacks and comments in the US in recent weeks.”
“The School Watch initiative of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) has reported [many] antisemitic comments in schools. ‘I cannot remember the last time that there were so many cases of teenagers using the word ‘Hitler’ in American public schools,’ IAC’s CEO Shoham Nicolet told The Jerusalem Post from his home in California. There has been a rise of incidents in public schools overall, he said, adding that he thinks some of them may be credited to the antisemitic statements made recently by rapper Kanye West and basketball star Kyrie Irving.” (JPost.com)
No doubt, there is violence against Israeli Jews here in Israel. But the type of hatred that Western Jews living in the Diaspora are subject to is a different animal. Here, we contend with nationalistic crimes, on a scale that is minuscule compared to violence in the US. By all measures, Israel is a safe country for the average citizen. Not to minimize any of these horrible attacks, but to illustrate the point, there have been 21 murders caused by terrorists this year in Israel, a country of 10,000,000 people. For comparison, New York City has had 361 homicides so far in 2022. (homicide.nyc.com)
All the schools here have a security guard at the entrance to the school campus, which has a fence around it. This is an ordinary precaution, not necessitated because shootings occur in schools. (Up to now, zero.) Synagogues and Jewish institutions don’t have police protection, because it isn’t needed. Security guards at public buildings have become rare. People walk on the streets at night, even solitary women late at night. There is crime, of course, but the most common incident is car theft, not a violent crime.
What can American Jews do to combat Jew-hatred? As an expat, I’m not the one to provide answers. But because Jews are prominent in the government, in education, in the professions, and in business, they should be able to influence public policy. The US is already on the anti-racism bandwagon. Perhaps more should be done to include Jews in the multiplicity of minorities being protected. In the meantime, Jews should be educating themselves about the hatred which is poisoning the young Jewish population.
Note: For more info on the campus situation see: https://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/anti-anti-israel-group-lists-anti-israel-professors-on-n-american-campuses/2014/09/04/