In 2020, hatred of Jews will continue to manifest itself as the lines blur between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Antisemitism has always been a torment that Jews have been forced to reckon with for centuries. However, its resurgence both in the United States and abroad is alarming for a new reason, and has had a debilitating effect on the sense of security and tranquility so often enjoyed by American Jews.
According to the recent American Jewish Committee study, nearly a third of Jews polled avoid publicly wearing, carrying or displaying things that identify them as being Jewish. A quarter report that they avoid certain places, events, or situations at least some of time out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews. And, one-third say that Jewish institutions which they are affiliated with have been targeted by antisemitic attacks, graffiti or threats. Not a day goes by without the report of antisemitic incidents in communities throughout America: a shooting in a kosher supermarket, people violently assaulted on their way to synagogue, swastikas painted on, and in, school buildings and playgrounds and synagogue windows smashed. The list of horrific examples goes on and on. This is the first type of antisemitism – physical attacks and other incidents that leave us fearful for our safety and the security of our children and families.
There is a second form of antisemitism, which receives insufficient attention: it’s more subtle, and allows for seemingly reasonable political debate to blend easily into antisemitic tropes, providing cover to those who peddle vilification and animus in the guise of wholesome and legitimate discourse. It is leading to a world that fails to make those subtle distinctions. Saying that one is opposed to Israel’s policies is very different than the articulation of raw antisemitic ideology. These lines are frequently blurring though and in the process, many – academics, journalists and respected thought leaders – have come to tolerate intolerance.
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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.