Opinion | Susan Knopf: Anti-Semitism on the rise | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: Anti-Semitism on the rise

Susan Knopf

“Hey you! I’ll get you!” screamed the machete-wielding man, according to Josef Gluck. The assailant burst into an orthodox rabbi’s home and stabbed five people. One is in a coma and not expected to survive. It was a miracle more were not harmed or killed. Gluck told The New York Times that he scooped up a small child and fled out the back. People fought the masked man. Gluck told Milwaukee Fox affiliate WITI-TV in a live interview that he returned through the front door of the house and broke a table across the assailant’s face. According to the Anti Defamation League, this is the 10th anti-Semitic attack in the New York area in the past week.

The Christian Science Monitor reports one of the most disturbing aspects of the rise in violent anti-Semitism is it transcends political and cultural boundaries, coming from the right and the left.

“On the radical right, they often glorify violence,” Gunther Jikeli told the Monitor. Jikeli is a scholar of anti-Semitism at Indiana University Bloomington. “When … the radical right were discussing the Pittsburgh shootings, nobody questioned the violence. They either glorified the murderer or said, ‘Oh, he’s stupid, just killing elderly Jews.’”

“On the left, it’s more to do with their worldview of anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism, where Jews are somehow in line with imperialists and the colonialism of the state of Israel,” Jikeli said. “You have American college campuses where pro- or even neutral Israeli sentiments are attacked in the name of ideology that has its roots in Mao, Che Guevara, and Third World-ism.”

That’s my experience. I’ll never forget meeting a Columbia University professor who insisted Jews were central to the scheme to enslave Africans. “The Atlantic,” in a 1995 article, debunks such faulty scholarship, and yet the pernicious claims endure.

For the record, the FBI reports that in 2018, a Jew was more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than all other religions combined. A Jew was four times more likely to be a hate crime victim than a Muslim. A Jew was more likely to be a hate crime victim than a Latino. The Anti Defamation League records more than twice as many anti-Semitic attacks as the FBI due to under reporting by local law enforcement. The statistics were the same in last year’s column, when I reported anti-Semitic incidents in Summit County.

It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse. The Anti Defamation League reported hate crime up 60% last year and up another 21% this year. “People were always quite comfortable here …” Rabbi Romiel Daniel of New York City said. He told the Christian Science Monitor that Jewish people in the United States, and in New York City in particular, have always felt an unprecedented level of inclusion and equality when compared with other countries and other times of history. “But suddenly in the last two or three years, the climate has changed. … It’s a constant feeling that it is not as safe as it should be, even here.” 

The Southern Poverty Law Center attributes the grave surge in violent American anti-Semitism to the statements of President Donald Trump. The center says white nationalists now feel they have a man in the White House.

In a 2018 article, the Christian Science Monitor reported global anti-Semitism is surging. “Antisemitism is one of those manifestations of that world view,” Bard College Professor Ken Stern told the Monitor, “because historically Jews are seen as an other, a danger, and conspiring to harm non-Jews. We do know … when there is a glorification of the us versus them mentality, antisemitism is always going to rise.”

Do you hear the familiar theme we’ve talked a lot about? The other. There it is again. Same issue with immigrants. I rely on the golden rule (Matthew 7:12), “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Famed first century Jewish scholar Hillel stated, “That which is hateful to you do not do to another.” If we can just treat everyone as we would like to be treated, imagine the world we would live in: a world of kindness, consideration and equality.

Perhaps the same idea could cure wage disparity. Treat your rank and file employees like they are members of your executive suite. It all comes down to the same thing. Let’s make 2020 the year each of us treats everyone the way we want to be treated. And let each of us be emboldened to speak against the culture that would have us fear the other, whether it’s coming from the right or the left.

Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf has worn many hats in her career, including working as an award-winning journalist and certified ski instructor. She moved to Silverthorne in 2013 after vacationing in Summit County since the 1970s. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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