Hate towards Jews increases with holiday season

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A stained glass window shows damage after the Beth Israel fire. Photo courtesy of bethisreal.org.

Hannah Shoffitt, Opinion Editor

On the morning of Nov. 28, hours before the beginning of Hanukkah, residents of Beverly Hills, California, woke to anti-semitic fliers on their driveways.
According to CNN, a portion of the flier claimed that “every single aspect of the COVID-19 agenda is Jewish.” This statement was printed alongside other outlandish and harmful propaganda. The Beverly Hills Police Department announced that it will conduct extra patrols to ensure “a safe holiday season” for all of its citizens.
Antisemitism (prejudice against Jewish people) has grown more rampant and unacceptable throughout the year, especially during Hanukkah.
The fliers in California coincided with other uses of hate speech earlier in the year. In May, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made a ridiculous comparison between the mask mandates, which are used to combat COVID-19, and the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.
“We can look back in a time and history where people were told to wear a gold star,” Greene said in a conservative podcast, “The Water Cooler with David Brody.”
“And they were definitely treated like second-class citizens,” Greene continued, “so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. This is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”
Greene’s words are beyond reprehensible and foolish. Wearing a mask to protect against a pandemic is not comparable to the end of over 6 million Jewish lives in the Holocaust. Greene is the same woman who posted on Facebook in 2018 that “lasers or blue beams of light” controlled by a left-wing conspiracy tied to an influential Jewish family could have been responsible for sparking California wildfires, according to keloland.com. She is absolutely out of line and should be out of office due to these hateful words and many others on different matters.
These kinds of uneducated outbursts can encourage others to commit hate crimes against these marginalized groups. For example, Franklin Barrett Sechriest wrote Oct. 31 in his journal, “I set a synagogue on fire,” according to the Washington Post. The 18-year-old Texas University student lit a fire at the front doors of Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas. After receiving a search warrant, authorities found stickers of Nazi propaganda and swastikas in his car, as well as the components to make Molotov cocktails. After discovering more evidence, he was taken into custody and charged with arson.
Steven Folberg, senior rabbi of the Congregation of Beth Israel said that his community felt relief after Sechriest was taken into custody.
“He’s just a college freshman, and that raises all kinds of questions into how he got into that state of mind,” Folberg said. Burning a synagogue is an extreme example of a hate crime. According to the 2020 FBI Hate Crime Statistics report, “Of the 1,715 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, 60.2% were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.”
As though the verbal and physical actions weren’t enough, Jews also face many harmful stereotypes. In a survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, 11% of American adults (28 million people) have extreme and ingrained anti-semitic attitudes and beliefs. Members of this 11% were labeled as “intense and ingrained” because they agreed with six or more false Jewish stereotypes.
The report found that almost one in five Americans believe that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.” Many persisting stereotypes about Jews in business and financial institutions still exist. Of the respondents, 15% believed that Jews are too powerful in business. Ten percent agreed with the statement: “Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.”
The consistent antisemitic attitudes held by many Americans are disheartening. Though most respondents in the report did not agree with any of these myths, it’s sad to see Americans hanging on to hate (especially when it’s untruthful.) The belief that “Jews talk too much about the holocaust” is especially worrying, as the number of people who lived through the Holocaust is on the decline.
“We know that when antisemitic attitudes are expressed in public discourse without condemnation, especially from our leaders, it gives the green light to those on the fringe to keep spouting it – and acting on it,” said Johnathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
Jews faced persecution and stereotypes as early as the 13th century B.C. It is wrong and cruel that Jewish people should continue to endure others’ harmful actions and beliefs. With the winter holidays in full swing, it’s essential to be inclusive and understanding towards Jews and other religious groups.