It’s the topic we all are talking about and not wanting to talk about at the same time— the incredible rise of antisemitism since the start of Israel’s latest conflict with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip several days ago.
For many of us we feel gaslighted at times. We see one narrative in the media and not the nuanced reporting we would expect from them on other topics. One example comes top of mind, in a New York Times article on pro-Palestinian rallies taking place across the world. This screenshot is from a rally in Toronto.
In the video, protesters can be heard chanting, “from the river to the sea,” a phrase which: “contains the notion that the land which lies between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea be entirely placed under Arab rule at the cost of the State of Israel.” In other words, no Israel.
Criticism of Israel doesn’t always equal antisemitism. But the intensified conflict is being used to spread antisemitism.
In this example, on that very same day as the Toronto rally, the city’s Jews were warned in text messages and on social media to stay inside because alleged lynch mobs were looking for people who were Jewish.
“There are reports from Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton of anti-Israel protestors entering Jewish neighborhoods and aggressively harassing residents and vandalizing Jewish property,” the Jewish Federations across Canada said. “These include anti-Israel activists shouting at Jewish residents, waving Palestinian flags, and yelling slogans such as ‘Death to Israel’. In several instances, these activities have been actively promoted on social media.”
Aside from Canada, there are reports of harassment of Jews all over the world since the intensification of the conflict. On Tuesday night in Los Angeles, reports of a mob attacking Jews inundated social media. After the night was done, at least 3 high profile attacks on Jews occurred. (So far no arrests have been made.)
Meanwhile, in heavily Jewish Boca Raton, Florida, a van drove around with the words “Hitler was right,” and in Tucson, rocks were thrown at the windows of a synagogue, the same happened at a Persian synagogue in Skokie, Illinois. In Salt Lake City a swastika was drawn on a synagogue’s window.
This list goes on.
In London, mobs drove through a Jewish neighborhood with a loud speaker saying “F*ck the Jews, rape their daughters.” There are also verified reports out of the U.K. that vandals specifically targeted Jewish homes and tore their mezuzahs off, and in a separate incident, a rabbi was bashed in the head with a brick. In Great Britain alone, antisemitic incidents are up 600% since the conflict broke out.
In Vienna, a man was met with cheers as he shouted, “shove your Holocaust up your *ss” at Jewish students.
This doesn’t even take into account the hundreds of microaggressions and overt attacks people are sharing on social media.
CNN had to fire a freelance writer for a Tweet saying the “world today needs a Hitler.”
In Chicago a popular mom’s Facebook group removed their only Jewish moderator following this exchange.
Meanwhile, on social media, liberal Jews are reporting that they feel unwelcomed because of their religion or stance on Zionism.
“The current spread of antisemitism comes at a moment of historically high antisemitic incidents, and when Jews worldwide are vulnerable to being scapegoated by those criticizing the Israeli government,” an Anti-Defamation League spokesperson told us in an email interview.
“We are seeing a wave of online antisemitism tied to the recent events. We are also concerned about expressions of antisemitism at protests in Europe — where some reports suggest significant increases — as well as in the U.S., where even a handful of incidents can normalize antisemitism. We do not have a luxury to ignore what we have documented thus far and will continue to work expose and combat antisemitism in all forms.”
Part of the difference in this conflict is that social media is playing a major part in spreading antisemitism. From the ADL:
“Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are enabling the spread of antisemitism at a moment of historically high antisemitic incidents, and when Jews worldwide are vulnerable to being scapegoated for the actions of the Israeli government,”
Further complicating this, the ADL says white supremacists are using the recent conflict to recruit and spread racist propaganda:
“White supremacists, who typically espouse hatred for all races and ethnicities not deemed ‘white,’ are using the conflict to push their own racist agenda. Telegram channels argue that there is historical precedent for ‘supporting’ the Palestinian cause: ‘Palestinians fought with the Germans in the Wehrmacht”s [sic] Free Arab Legion in WW2.’ Others see that support as a means to a (white supremacist) end: ‘The best way to stop muslim [sic] immigration into Europe and White countries is to support Arab security in their own lands and fully oppose Zionism.’”
This past week’s antisemitism comes on the heels of a particularly bad year in the U.S. The number of overall antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2020 remained basically at the same levels as 2019 despite a year spent by many in isolation due to the global pandemic.
Originally Published May 20 2021 06:38PM EDT