Erin Schrode, a promising 25-year-old Jewish woman, announces her candidacy for U.S. Congress. In response, she is bombarded by hundreds of anti-Semitic messages: “Fire up the oven.” “Kike.” “Get out of my country, kike. Get to Israel where you belong. That or the oven. Take your pick.” This did not happen in the 1930s. It happened last month in California.
An Oberlin College professor, Joy Karega, posted a photo of Jacob Rothschild, a member of a well-known Jewish banking family, which read: “We own nearly every central bank in the world. We financed both sides of every war since Napoleon. We own your news, the media, your oil and your government.” This was not published in Gleichschaltung, a Nazi newspaper. This was on her Facebook page.
Students at UC Berkley woke up one morning this past year to the words, “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” painted on a building.
Jewish students at NYU, Harvard, Florida Atlantic University, and other universities at some point or another in the past two years came home to “Eviction” notices posted on their doors, calling for the removal of all Jews from the campus. Of course, the notices were fake, but the impact was certainly real.
Anti-Semitic discourse on the internet has increased a mind-boggling 114 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to one report. Last month, one Jewish New York Times editor, Jonathan Weisman, was the target of a coordinated Twitter attack aimed at harassing internet users who have Jewish sounding names. Weisman was inundated with thousands of anti-Semitic tweets. One of the many tweets depicted a trail of dollar bills leading to an oven, another was a picture of a Menorah made of the number 6 million (representing the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust) -- the harassment was so extreme and unrelenting that he had no choice but to close his account.
The attack on Weisman was not an isolated incident, but rather part of a larger anti-Semitic attack online. A group of tech-savvy bigots created a punctuation-based code, referred to as “(((echoes)))” to identify and brand Jews on the Internet. This code works with Google Chrome’s “coincidence detector” and automatically places these “echoes” around more than 8,000 names. Once marked, the Jewish Internet user is flooded with malicious and hateful anti-Semitic comments. The examples are endless. Of course, this is only in the United States. The incidents in Europe, South America and of course the Middle East are exponentially worse.
Suddenly, mainstream culture is finding cover for the age-old hatred of Jews. They’ve figured it out. So long as the attack is lightly-battered and flash fried in a light coat of anti-Israel sentiment, and as long as you pretend you are fighting for “human rights,” the rise of anti-Semitism is socially acceptable. It shouldn’t be. It’s can’t be. Not again.
“Suddenly, mainstream culture is finding cover for the age-old hatred of Jews.”
Am I sounding an alarm? You bet. According to one study, nearly 75 percent of Jewish college students reported being exposed to anti-Semitism. The FBI reported that the majority of anti-religious hate crimes in the U.S. in 2015 were perpetrated against Jews. The Jewish community is well-aware of the situation. It is the topic of discussion at dinner tables across the nation. Now, it is time for it to become a topic of conversation at yours.
Whether it was blood libels, genocides, massacres, expulsions or forced conversions, Jews have been hated and persecuted for time immemorial. A culture of acquiescence, silence and even a “wink and a nod,” pervaded societies across Europe and the Middle East before and during each of these incidents. Today, it seems that the same bystander culture exists across this country.
Much is written about what could have, or should have, been done to have prevented the Holocaust from ever happening. Many argue that the party and movement were too large to stop. But, those who stood by and allowed the Nazi party to murder 6 million Jews, stood by at every step of the way. They stood by when Hitler passed his laws boycotting Jewish businesses and professionals in 1933. They stood by when Hitler passed the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. They stood by during Kristallnacht in 1938. Of course, they continued to stand by during the Holocaust itself. Unfortunately, the same is true for the rest of the world. That is until May 1944 when the allied forces decided that enough was enough and decided to stand up and put an end to the atrocities.
Today, anti-Semitism is once again on the rise. It is at levels which we have not seen in the Western world since the rise of the Nazi party. It is the moral obligation of all civilized people -- Jews and non-Jews alike -- to stand up to this bigotry and to put a stop to this age-old hatred. It is unacceptable to stand idly by and watch until it is too late.
What should you do?
Hold the bigots accountable. Call them out. If your alma-mater is supporting anti-Semitic professors, or allowing events to turn into Jew-hating get togethers, write the Dean and let them know that it is unacceptable. If you donate to the university, withhold your donation, and let them know why -- in writing. When you do these things, send your letters to your local newspaper to be published. Of course, post it on your social media accounts. If Facebook is hosting an anti-Semitic page, as was the case earlier this year, write Facebook and demand that they take it down. Tell your friends to do the same. Report the page to anti-discrimination organizations and ask them to pressure Facebook as well. Exactly this occurred earlier this year, and Facebook finally responded by taking down the pages in question. If you are at a university where there is an openly anti-Semitic professor, boycott his class. Convince other students to do the same. Then, write a letter to the Dean or the Board of Trustees, telling them why no one is registering for this professor’s courses. A group of professors at Oberlin know what it means to stand up. 174 members of the Oberlin faculty signed a statement strongly condemning the anti-Semitic conduct of Joy Karega. Do the same when you see bigotry and anti-Semitism. And, more simply, do not hesitate to stand up and say something. While it may not get you anywhere online, it certainly will at your office or at your friend’s house. If we do nothing and simply let it fester, it will certainly grow until it is beyond our control. We cannot ignore history.
Remember the words of the great Albert Einstein: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”