The United States has a peculiar tradition of dedicating certain months towards particular ethnic groups. The month of May has traditionally been Jewish Heritage Month, and President Biden made a declaration this year as such.
In his April 29, 2022 proclamation, the present president of the United States of America, Joe Biden quoted President George Washington‘s letter to the Jews of Newport, RI writing
“Inspired by Jewish American communal leadership, our Nation’s first President pledged that our Government will ‘give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.‘”
Biden went on to state that his administration would root out anti-Semitism,
“ensuring that hate has no safe harbor.“
Though his predecessor made it possible that hate against Jews could grow again. Though in the past, generations of Jewish people have come to that Nation fleeing oppression, discrimination, and persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their children. They thought to have found a land of freedom where they could live freely and keep their religious traditions. As such, those Jewish Americans have created lives for themselves and their families and played indispensable roles in America’s civic and community life, making invaluable contributions to the United States of America, through their leadership and achievements.
Can you imagine that there were more than 7 anti-Semitic incidents per day registered last year in a nation that calls itself free and democratic?
Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979 – an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase year over year.
Antisemitic incidents tracked in the 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents reached an all-time high of 2,717 in the United States last year – an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase year over year, including assaults, harassment and vandalism. This is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
Those who think that Americans insist that everyone must be free should then ask themselves why there are so many Americans who oppose other Americans and try to restrict their freedoms (such as, for example, now the right of women to be masters in their own homes and body).
Of the total incidents, there were 1,776 categorized as harassment, defined as cases where one or more Jewish people (or people who were perceived to be Jewish) were harassed verbally (or in writing) with antisemitic conspiracy theories, slurs or stereotypes. Acts of harassment increased 43%, up from 1,242 in 2020.
Going further than the verbal assault, where 88 incidents of physical violence were accompanied by evidence of antisemitic animus. Antisemitic assaults increased 167% from 33 in 2020. Eleven of the assaults in 2021 were perpetrated with deadly weapons. The 88 assaults resulted in 131 victims and no fatalities.
Another 853 incidents were categorized as vandalism, defined as cases where property was damaged in a manner that incorporated evidence of antisemitic intent or which had an antisemitic impact on Jews. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted by Jews to be symbols of antisemitic hatred, were present in 578 of these incidents. Acts of antisemitic vandalism increased 14% from 751 in 2020.
A substantial surge was reported during the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas. There was a staggering 148 percent increase in reports of antisemitic incidents that month when compared in May 2020, as tensions were high and hundreds of anti-Israel protests took place in dozens of U.S. cities. As Jewish individuals were violently beaten in the streets from New York to Los Angeles, a total of 387 incidents were reported that month with 297 of the incidents occurring after May 10, the date marking the official start of military action.
“While we have always seen a rise in antisemitic activity during periods of increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May was shocking,”
said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director.
“Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away.”
The May conflict represented only one of several spikes reported throughout the year and, overall, anti-Israel sentiment did not account for the lion’s share of incidents in 2021. In fact, antisemitic acts also spiked in November and December, times when there was no similar triggering factor. Nearly 18 percent of the incidents last year – at least 484 – were attributable to actions by domestic extremists.
“When it comes to antisemitic activity in America, you cannot point to any single ideology or belief system, and in many cases, we simply don’t know the motivation,”
“But we do know that Jews are experiencing more antisemitic incidents than we have in this country in at least 40 years, and that’s a deeply troubling indicator of larger societal fissures.”
This is not only a fact of life in the USA, but can also be observed in Western Europe, where we can also see an increase in far-right movements. Coinciding with Israel’s Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel also published a report which showed also such alarming figures. The Anti-Semitism Worldwide Report 2021, by the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Humanities, is based on the analysis of dozens of studies from around the world, as well as information from law enforcement bodies, media and Jewish organisations. It found that the number of antisemitic attacks nearly doubled in the United Kingdom, from 97 assaults in 2020 to 173 last year; that the number rose in France by more than a third in 2021 compared to the year before, from 44 to 60; and that the total number of antisemitic incidents in Germany rose to its highest level in recent years, to 3,028 in 2021, compared to 2,351 in 2020 and 2,032 in 2019.
“In recent years, the fight against antisemitism has enjoyed extensive resources worldwide, and yet, despite many important programs and initiatives, the number of antisemitic incidents, including violent assaults, is rapidly escalating,”
said Uriya Shavit, the head of the centre.
We can find an increase in popularity by the far-right which benefits from popular disgust with a corrupt, privileged and oligopolistic political class, even as actual democracy seems powerless in the face of the untouchable large economic and financial corporations. Common people do not feel represented by their politicians, though those from the extreme right parties seem to offer them answers and solutions.
The far-right offers its followers an exclusive identity, singles out the culprits (the establishment) and advocates simple and expeditious solutions (throw out the foreigners, overthrow the “political class”). The Jews do not fit the myth of ethnic purity because their nation should be one of (white) Christians.
According to the Israeli study’s authors, the populist right has increasingly adopted classic antisemitic tropes of cadres of wealthy Jews directly controlling global events, while the left has begun to exclude Jews from the list of groups deserving protection.
“Another factor contributing to the negative trend of a rise in antisemitic attacks is that some human-right activists began to exclude Jews and Israel from their struggles consciously,”
according to the report.
“Racism, they argue, concerns African-Americans and African-Europeans, Roma, LBGTQs, indigenous minorities, asylum seekers, and foreign workers, but not Jews.”
The report noted a major surge in attacks on Jews during the conflict last May. In Canada, the 61 physical attacks carried out that month represented the largest number ever recorded in a single month in at least the last 40 years, nearly seven times higher than in May 2020, when nine attacks were committed, and more than four times higher than in 2019, when 14 attacks were carried out.
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