The memory of the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic will eventually pass. Yet, waiting in the wings remains another pandemic of equal fierce ugliness showing no sign of retreat and with no antidote. The “anti-Semitism virus” manifests through targeted hate speech and action; utilizing property destruction, including attacks on religious institutions, and violent confrontations. Like any opportunistic infection, it too continuously tests for weak points of entry so as to inflict maximum damage and incite maximum fear.
Antisemitism and those who promote it were once found on the fringe of society and included white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and later added radical Islamist’s. Iran and its proxies; Hizbullah and Hamas worked their way into the ranks. Each egged on by relentless and baseless U. N. Anti-Israel condemnations beginning with Resolution (3379) equating ‘Zionism to Racism’.
They set the stage for other hate inspired groups seeking legitimacy on campuses across the United States and elsewhere. Feeling empowered they seek confrontation with Israel and its supporters; Jew and gentile alike; intimidating anyone whose opinions ran contrary to their anti-Zionist platforms. The ladder being utilized to hide antisemetic intentions.
Born at the end of the Holocaust era, my parents instilled within me respect for our 1st Amendment rights of assembly and free speech yet, laced with common sense boundaries. Presently, this seems “old fashioned” and ignored by those who prefer to meet perceived opposition with torment and threats. As a result, Jews and other religious minorities suffer the effects of such discrimination in silence.
Those that had the illusion they were protected under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, soon found they were mistaken. Title VI only prohibited discrimination based on race, color, and national origin; not addressing acts of religious based discrimination. Yet, this very same indignation was recognized within Title VII of the same act regarding religion discriminatory practices in employment.
Amending Title VI, to include ‘Religious Discrimination’ as a prohibited practice remains viable, but appears ignored; even though it would offer broader protections to ‘all students,’ in all grades at any institution that accepts federal funding. This might also shed a positive influence on tempering brewing antisemitism found in American society, in general.
Until comprehensive protections are offered, Jews must be on guard and not back away from challenging perceived wrongs. It is in this spirit that an occasion arose, emanating from a traditional force know for reason that has the potential to further nourish hostility towards Jews.
The level of risk was recently heightened, when Australian Cardinal George Pell was acquitted of charges of alleged child abuse and the Pope saw fit to weigh in. In the April 7, 2020 edition of the “Guardian,” Religion Section, the Pope was reported to decry what he viewed as unjust sentencing, “Francis did not mention Pell by name at mass, but compared the suffering of those with ‘unjust sentences’ to the way the Jewish Community elders persecuted Jesus with obstinacy and rage even though he was innocent.”
This statement may unintentionally serve to put Jews in danger from those that have always had it in for them and wish a convenient excuse for retribution. It is therefore incumbent upon the Pope to intervene and correct any chance of further “unjust sentencing” of Jews from being instigated. By doing such, he may inspire others to seek out their better angels, as well.
The campaign against the “anti-Semitism virus” is complicated and must occur on many fronts simultaneously. At the bare minimum, leaders and role models, including parents and religious figures must assist in persevering for the greater good to offset this pervasive pandemic, at least and until a more effective broad spectrum remedy is conceived.
Nefarious propaganda has historically targeted Jews and now targets Israel, serving to label both as the primary cause of discontent, misery and other unsettling events, worldwide. I fear it is only a matter of time before both are maligned with the coronavirus pandemic, as Jews were with the Black Death during the middle ages. Working together, we may yet be able to prevent another atrocity.