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Anti-Semitism: A sudden spike in hate

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

[Image by Aleks Megen from Pixabay]


With airs of conspiracies, hate has worsened, and Jewish communities are being targeted. Anti-Semitism is nothing new. If anything, this form of prejudice stains the Jewish history with pain and anguish. Anguish that is not unique but anguish that is repetitive.

 

Despite the global pandemic that has left millions unemployed, children out of schools and increased anxieties, there still seems to be room for hate. Hate that is baseless and a frown upon humanity. Hate that dates centuries. 


What is Anti-Semitism?


Anti-Semitism is prejudice and hatred that is primarily expressed toward Jewish people or as the ADL (click here to learn more about them and the work they do) describes it to be:


“The belief or behaviour hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.”

Throughout history various forms of Anti-Semitism have been documented from the subtle to the atrocities of the Holocaust, but how did this all come about?


A Very Short History of Anti-Semitism:


Predating centuries, what we now have come to understand as ‘Anti-Semitism’ was set in stone by religious conflicts. 


During the historical time frame of the Bible, the Hebrews, the early Jews, were persecuted for refusing to follow the ancient religious doctrines of the nation(s), mainly those of the Middle East, that they resided in. Their want to be separate and loyal to their faith was frowned upon by the other nations and was perceived as a threat to authority. As result, the Hebrews were discriminated against by the governing principalities at the time, and systems that specifically oppressed them came into the making.


I would like to point out how, this is no different from today. Systems and mass discrimination against the Jewish communities because of their faith are not any different from those from Biblical times. Like I have always said:


“History is modernised to be weaponised”

Following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the rise of Christianity, another form of Anti-Semitism was created. After the destruction of the ancient Jewish State by the Romans in 70 C.E. and the sudden conversion of the Roman empire to Christianity, Jewish people were faced with another great threat fuelled by hate. Yet again, their loyalty to their faith and their refusal to convert to Christianity and accept Jesus as their “Lord and personal Saviour”, Jewish communities came under scrutiny by Roman rule for disobedience. Again, they were deemed a “threat to authority”. 


Fast forward to the Middle Ages where this took an even more dire turn. Society actively went out of its way to make life extremely difficult for Jews. The prohibition of Jews marrying outside of their faith, being banned from testifying in courts, to the spread of lies and conspiracies of how “Jews had horns and tails and engaged in ritual murder of Christians” (ADL). Is it not ironic that ideas like these are still being used today as an active justification of hate towards Jewish communities? The fact that people are still clinging onto these archaic beliefs from a time when society heavily believed in miasma is both laughable and shameful (this is my opinion and my opinion alone). Society even went further by actively promoting the slaying and massacre of anyone who is Jewish or affiliated to Judaism.  


Then comes the 20th century and Holocaust, a devastating and inhumane mass murder of millions. This orchestration led to the death of an estimation of 6 million Jews (Wikipedia) and the deaths of many others (which will not be discussed further for the preservation of the topic of this article, this does not mean that the other fatalities are insignificant). Following the public awareness of the horrendous atrocities of Auschwitz (click here to learn more), an intolerance for Anti-Semitism grew. 


However, recently, Anti-Semitism is reviving.


Present Day Anti-Semitism:


With world-wide lockdown, many have taken to the internet as a medium to stay connected with loved ones, others have chosen to spread hate. This is particularly from users from the United Kingdom specifically within London and Manchester where there are numerous Jewish communities. 


A report published on July 30th, 2020 by the Community Security Trust (CST) details that between the months of January and June, there were “789 Anti-Semitic incidents”. The report goes on to acknowledge that despite there being a 13% fall in Anti-Semitic hate crimes across the UK since 911,


“[this] is still the third-highest number of incidents CST has ever recorded in the January to June period of any year.”

It's like one step forward followed by a thousand leaps backwards. 


The report then describes CST’s findings for what fuelled this sudden spike in hate towards Jewish communities. It turns out that baseless hate stems from baseless fear and ignorance (who would have thought?). Following the eventual lockdown of the UK, many conspiracy theories about how the origins of the virus, COVID19, came to be. One of these theories perpetuated the laughable idea that the virus was created by Jewish people for world domination. This heinous accusation encouraged the prejudice endured by Jewish communities. CST states how:


“The pandemic also influenced the way antisemitism manifested during this period. In the first half of 2020, [they had] received ten reports of educational or religious online events being hijacked with antisemitic content or behaviour. [They] also recorded 26 incidents that contained antisemitic rhetoric alongside references to the pandemic, such as conspiracy theories accusing Jews of inventing the Coronavirus ‘hoax’, or of creating and spreading COVID-19 itself, for various malevolent and financial purposes; or simply wishing that Jewish people catch the virus and die.”

It is truly despicable how malevolent humans can be. During a time when the whole world needs to come together to help one another stay afloat and not sink into the devastating anxiety that was ushered in with the global pandemic, you would think that people would be using this time to reflect on how their actions affects others. You would think that people would use their ‘newfound time’ to better themselves and grow as an individual, not waste it by spreading and promoting hate. 


With the recent event of the annexation of Palestine by the Israel state, many have been using this as an excuse to be Anti-Semitic:


"Anti-Zionism is the new Anti-Semitism" (Unknown)

Archaic superstitions of how ‘Jews control the world banks’ and are ‘in charge of the world’ have been used as points when discussing the decisions of the Israeli government (to learn more about the Annexation of Palestine, click here). It is so disheartening how people have chosen to be ignorant. How long will it be until people are able to understand that the people and the government are not the same?

Lola Caputo, a college student in London, shares her story as a young Jewish person:


“It tends to be the case that Anti-Semitism is not really taken very seriously.

Being part of the reform Jewish community, I cannot be identified as Jewish from outward appearances, which means that the Anti-Semitism that I have experienced has come from people that I know personally. To me, this is really scary. I have been on the receiving end of hateful comments from people [who] know me, but the severity of those comments has never really been taken into account. People just see Anti-Semitic comments as another passing comment [as jokes] that are completely ‘okay to make’. 


I remember one time, someone from my school had rolled a penny towards me and told me to go ‘fetch it’, building on a stereotype that Jewish people are ‘stingy with money’ or ‘greedy’ . These are stereotypes about the Jewish community that people just consider to be normal. 


That’s what scares me the most about it.

These stereotypes (such as the idea that Jews control the banks and are greedy for money) are pretty much normalised in today’s society. It is terrifying to think that Jews have been historically labelled as ‘Other’, and that nothing has really changed. [Everyday] it seems that there is always some new stereotype and morphed perceptions of the Jewish community that arises, particularly within political contexts, that [it]


makes me feel as though Anti-Semitism is inescapable. 

People are starting to listen now, and seeing people begin to share posts about preventing Anti-Semitism makes me feel like it’s finally being recognised as serious [social] issue.”


As a young black person, I can empathise to some extent with that feeling of being trapped within a vicious cycle of hate that is thrown at you at every waking moment. 


However, I am not Jewish and therefore I can never fully comprehend the torment that Jewish communities face because of their faith. Yet, that does not give me the right to stay ignorant to their pain and anguish. That does not give me the right, like you, to stay quiet, for silence is an act of complicity. Therefore, I am willing to learn. To become educated on the origins of Anti-Semitism. To actively deconstruct any unconscious biases that I may unknowingly have towards Jewish people and their communities.


We all have this responsibility. 


That is why I urge you as the reader to endeavour to research about Anti-Semitism. To ask questions. To be willing to learn. Coursera (not sponsored) is a great place to start. It has an online course that educates and raises awareness about the origins of Anti-Semitism (Click here). The ADL have also created this PDF (click here) that discusses the origins of Anti-Semitism and its varying forms briefly.


Let us help stop the spread of hate by getting educated. 

Let us put a stop to Anti-Semitism. 

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