North-JerseyNews.com

Rise in Antisemitism Worries Jewish Community in North Jersey

A rise of anti semitic behavior since the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May led to the  Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tracking an increase of anti semitic harassment, vandalism and violence in the U.S. During the two weeks of clashes in Israel and Gaza, the ADL collected 222 reports compared to the 127 during the previous two weeks. 

The ADL noted three incidents in New York City, including one where three men allegedly drove around Borough Park harassing and assaulting Jewish individuals. The individuals reportedly yelled anti semitic slurs, kicked in a synagogue’s doors and broke a car mirror. 

Of note in North Jersey, an elementary school student project in Tenafly caused outrage in the community due to an essay that was hanging in the hallways from the perspective of Hitler and later dressed as Hitler during the presentation. The project included a biography, written in the supposed voice of Hitler, stating, “I was very popular,” and asked, “I was pretty great, wasn’t I?”

The surge comes as prominent politicians, most notably Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, questioned the historically strong bond between the U.S. and Israel. While the older generation sees Israel as an essential lifeline amid growing global antisemitism, younger voters struggle to reconcile the right-wing policies of the Israeli government with their own liberal values.

Political Split

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that two-thirds of American Jews 65 and older described themselves as emotionally attached to Israel, compared with 48% of Jewish adults under 30. Among Republican Jews, nearly three-quarters said they felt a strong attachment to Israel, while only 52% of Jewish Democrats expressed the same belief. Jewish Democrats are also more likely to say that the United States is too supportive of Israel.

The poll falls in line with leftists activists linking Palestinian rights to social justice causes in the U.S., such as police brutality and conditions for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Party activists who fight for racial justice now post messages against the, “colonization of Palestine.”

Leading the charge was Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, as she directly challenged President Joe Biden, who has continually asserted that Israel had a right to defend itself, from the House floor in asking “Do Palestinians have a right to survive? Do we believe that? And if so, we have a responsibility to that as well.”

Middle East Conflict

Even the strong supporters of Israel, notably Sen. Bob Menendez, were critical of Israel strikes that killed Palestinian civilians and destroyed media offices.

“In response to thousands of rocket attacks fired by Hamas aimed at civilians, Israel has every right to self-defense from terrorists committed to wipe her off the face of the map,” said Menendez, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman. “(But) Israeli authorities must continue taking the conscientious practice of giving advance warning of its attacks to reduce the risk of harm to the innocent. I also believe there must be a full accounting of actions that have led to civilian deaths and destruction of media outlets.” 

Addressing Antisemitism

All of this has led Rep. Josh Gottheimer to ask President Joe Biden to engage in efforts to combat the surge of anti semitic rhetoric and violent incidents targeting Jews throughout the United States.

“When this type of violence and inflammatory rhetoric goes unaddressed, it can fuel increasing hatred and violence, and lead to unspeakable acts against Jews. That is why we need a united, bipartisan, national-level commitment to confront and address the threat of antisemitism head-on,” Gottheimer wrote in a letter with colleagues Elaine Luria (D-VA), Kathy Manning (D-NC), and Dean Phillips (D-MN) to the President. “Antisemitism is wrong, and it deserves to be unequivocally condemned by all.”

The Congressman urged the President to not delay in nominating a U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Increasing Rhetoric

“Blaming Jews for conflict in the Middle East or seeking to hold them collectively responsible for Israel’s government policies is antisemitic, and it is wrong. Given that Jews in Europe and around the world have faced a similar increase in threats in recent weeks coinciding with the conflict, we also urge you to swiftly nominate an experienced and qualified United States Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism,” the members wrote.

The letter pointed out that elected officials have used antisemitic rhetoric, including comparing face masks and other COVID-19 public health measures to, “what happened in Nazi Germany,” during the Holocaust and accusing Israel of being an, “apartheid state,” and committing, “act[s] of terrorism.” 

“These statements are antisemitic at their core and contribute to a climate that is hostile to many Jews,” stated Gottheimer. “Sadly, we have learned from our history that when this type of violence and inflammatory rhetoric goes unaddressed, it can fuel increasing hatred and violence, and lead to unspeakable acts against Jews. That is why we need a united, bipartisan, national-level commitment to confront and address the threat of antisemitism head-on.”

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