FBI Hate Crimes Report a Reminder That Non-Jews Must Do More To Fight Anti-Semitism
The FBI’s recently released Hate Crimes Report showing that over 60% of religious-based hate crimes in 2019 targeted Jews – – a 14% increase from 2018 – – is a stark reminder that not enough is being done to protect people of the Jewish faith.
It may also point to a reality that too few non-Jews take Anti-Semitism seriously.
The task of fighting Jew hatred cannot be left to the Jewish community alone – – non-Jews have a moral obligation to combat this scourge.
It is unfair and unreasonable to leave the responsibility of fighting Anti-Semitism to only Jews from both a values standpoint and due to the Jewish community’s small numbers in American society.
According to the Jewish Federations of North America’s Berman Jewish Databank, as of 2017 the U.S. Jewish population stood at 6,850,865, making up just 2.1% of the overall U.S. population of 327 plus million people.
Yet, half of America’s hate crime murders in 2019 were committed against Jews.
There are many contributing factors to this serious problem – – too many to identify in this column. Among them, a badly damaged social discourse; an ancient hatred of “the other”; Jews being blamed for a downturn in the economy and for COVID-19; social media providing a platform for Jew haters of various stripes like white supremacists; as well as a failure by too many to push back against Anti-Semitic statements by celebrities, heads of hate groups, political figures and select religious leaders.
Effectively combating one of the world’s oldest hatreds – – malice towards Jews – – must involve non-Jews supporting and sustaining existing efforts by the Jewish community. From a sheer numbers perspective, more than 2% of the U.S. population needs to play their part in making headway against this worsening problem.
How to go about this?
For starters, the immediate threat of bad actors planning and conducting attacks against Jewish houses of worship and individuals must be met with robust measures by the authorities. Appropriate resources must be provided to law enforcement agencies at all levels.
To this end, President-elect Biden’s new administration needs to allocate the necessary manpower to lower anti-Jewish hate crimes. This must be a priority of the yet-to-be nominated Attorney General.
President-elect Biden can also appoint a commission focused on ways of promoting increased religious tolerance and the protection of religious minorities on American campuses, houses of worship and community centers. Additional measures must be taken to ensure the physical safety of Jewish students in school and congregants at temples.
Furthermore, stronger efforts to make a dent in Anti-Semitism must take place in our nation’s classrooms. Curricula need to be bolstered with a more thorough accounting of the Jewish experience and the ancient hatred of their communities. Tolerance training that teaches of the unique struggle of Jews is needed on a broad basis.
Just as schools budget for field trips to Washington, DC, more educational institutions need to allocate resources for study trips to appropriate museums and historical destinations such as former Nazi concentration camps, i.e., Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, etc.
In order to properly augment these programs, educators need to be equipped with all of the tools available in teaching today – – online courses, virtual programs, symposia, learning apps, etc.
This obligation to teach our young about both the history and present-day challenges of Anti-Semitism must be facilitated by improved collaboration between Jewish and non-Jewish educators, police and other professionals. When possible, Holocaust Survivors, Concentration Camp Liberators and present-day victims of Anti-Semitism should be consulted and involved, providing perspective.
Fortifying our schools with improved content about the Jewish people and the history of Anti-Semitism can be a start towards helping our young become grounded, empathetic and equipped with the knowledge of past injustices.
In recent years, accounts of Southern California high school students playing Nazi drinking games with swastika symbols (an affront that insults the Greatest Generation of Americans who fought to defeat Hitler’s Germany) provided a needed wake up call to educators and parents. Our youth need to know that Anti-Jewish propaganda and the poisonous ideas of Nazism are dangerous in our time as well and have been used to justify the murder of fellow Americans in synagogue.
Along these lines, when Jewish students are targeted on campuses, there needs to be accountability for both the sake of justice and to teach fellow students that discrimination and hate are not OK.
Making headway in this endeavor will involve a long-term, sustained effort by people of all backgrounds. Families, schools, non-profits, faith-based organizations, businesses, law enforcement and political leaders each need to do their part.
Intolerance is an unfortunate fact of life that needs to be confronted daily. To that end, it is past time to begin enlarging and strengthening Jewish and non-Jewish collaborations towards raising awareness and combating the lingering tragedy of Anti-Semitism in our communities.