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Viewpoint: The rise of anti-semitism in the United States
March 3, 2017

Viewpoint: The rise of anti-semitism in the United States

Viewpoint: The rise of anti-semitism in the United States

Photo courtesy of TAMUSA Flickr

Anti-semitic violence has invaded American university campuses.  

Jewish students faced more threat in the first 58 days of 2017 than at any other time in the last decade. With 90 incidents of anti-semitic violence reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in January alone, it is unclear what the cause of the rise is.

Adding to the concerns of growing anti-semitism on campus, 48 bomb threats were called in to Jewish community centers over the same span.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and President Trump were questioned about the growing trend at press conferences these past few weeks.  

President Trump rudely dismissed an Orthodox Jewish reporter’s question at a Presidential press conference Feb. 16 by responding on the subject with a pivot to the electoral college.

Many have pointed to the President, and his party, for the rising anti-semitic violence in the U.S., however analysis shows that this trend began in earnest in 2015.  

Anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and misogynistic violence has risen over the same period, although not as significant in numbers.

Jewish student events are being violently disrupted across the United States. Incidents at University of Maryland, Boston University, University of Florida, University of California, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, NYU, and Brown University demonstrate a shift of hate crimes from traditional conservative campuses to progressive left-wing universities.

No reputable study suggests that Americans – at large – are becoming more anti-Semitic.

A Pew Research Center study, which historically measures respondents “feelings” toward various religions, found that of the more than 4,000 adults polled – Judaism elicited the “warmest” feelings of any religious group.  

Despite these “feelings”, FBI statistics for religiously motivated hate crimes prove that Jews were targeted 57 percent of the time.  Muslims were the victims 16 percent of the time, while Catholics, Protestants, and atheists/agnostics comprised the remaining.

On campuses, perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence are mostly liberal students, while off campuses the anti-Semites remain an assorted combination of white nationalists, conspiracy theorists, and pro-Palestinian sympathizers.

Examples of anti-Semitism have erupted in Texas as well.  

A Texas preschool teacher was fired after her “kill some Jews!” tweet from 2013 surfaced, along with other anti-Semitic comments.  Vandals destroyed more than 30 vehicles and homes with spray paint and rocks in a predominantly Jewish area of San Antonio in 2015 – the perpetrators are still at large. A watchdog website, Canary Mission, recently published a scathing report citing anti-Semitic comments made by students at the University of Texas-Arlington, as part of its ongoing scrutiny of such statements nationwide.  

The instances of intimidation and violence continue to occur.  On March 1, University of Texas president, Greg Fenves issued a statement about the Hillel on campus being vandalized. With more than 3,000 Jewish students on the University of Texas campus, police are investigating the incident as an act of hate targeting the Jewish community.

“The University will assist Austin police as they investigate and determine if this was an act of hate against Jewish students.  As the UT community made clear at last week’s town hall, acts of hate – whether posters targeting Muslim and immigrants or a rock thrown at Hillel – have no place here.  We will do everything we can to support our students who were affected by this.”

We must recognize campus anti-Semitism for what it is.  Hate.  While the target of this hate may be the Jewish people, tomorrow may see the targeting of homosexuals, hispanics, conservatives, liberals, etc.  Hate must be stopped before it can fester.  This is a problem worthy of staunch vigilance.  This must be a top priority.

All 100 United States senators joined to unanimously pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in Dec. 2016.  A measure aimed at addressing the alarming rise of on campus anti-Semitism.  In the current divisive political landscape, bipartisanship demonstrates the seriousness of this issue.

So too, must we the students, faculty, and staff of Texas A&M-San Antonio stand united against this growing issue facing the Jewish people.

Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler once said:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.

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  • Christopher V

    James, this is true also in regards to the nation of Israel. I’ve spoken with people who’ve said, “I don’t hate Jews, but I hate or am anti-Israel.” In essence, this is anti-Semitic. Just like the Frenchman has his France, or the Spaniard his or her Spain. The Jews are unquestionably tied to the land of Israel. Each language or nationality on the Earth is directly associated with a geographic location. Through the lens of time we can clearly see the constant attack on the Jewish people, from the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, to the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms of Russia, and the Holocaust. Academia touts itself as a place of “diversity” where ideas can be freely discussed, and we should hold true to this. Rather than create “safe zones” we should be intellectually courageous to listen to an argument rather than dismiss it for a leaning political ideology. The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer a German pastor who spoke out against Nazism during the Holocaust and was executed on April 9, 1945 said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
    -Chris Vasquez-

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