Some content is adapted from Addressing Antisemitic Hate With Students, by Teaching Tolerance Staff, with permission of Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center – https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/addressing-antisemitic-hate-with-students
Antisemitic attacks are happening and they are a reminder of the important role educators play in pushing back against hate and violence.
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A few months ago I saw a public outcry towards reform for social justice. I stood with those who wanted change and saw a system that needed fixing. I spoke out on my platform and used my art to represent the increasing need for compassion. Now I am witnessing a new wave of hate, one targeting the Jewish people, and the scariest part is that we are standing alone. This week twitter began recognizing the Magen David (star of david) as a hate symbol. There has been a movement to go off of social in protest. My business and income are contingent on my social media, and for me this wasn’t practical, so I decided instead of removing my social media presence, to use it to speak up. Within the last month I’ve seen football players, rappers, and television hosts come forward with actively antisemetic sentiments. I’ve seen a company advertising jewelry featuring the symbol used by the Nazi Party to perpetuate hate towards not only Jews, but homosexuals, blacks, Romas, and those with disabilities. Through it all I’ve seen outcry almost exclusively from the Jewish community on Instagram and other social media platforms. The people who had been so vocal while addressing inequalities facing the black, brown, Asian, and Hispanic communities are nowhere to be found. Jews make up less than .02% of the American population, and around .18% of the world population, yet were the target of 57.8% of all hate crimes in the US in 2018. We don’t have the man power to stand up and make change alone. We can’t combat the stereotypes and libel alone. If we want change we need to put any precision differences aside and stand together and stand up for each other. Something I heard that resonated with me is that “activism isn’t a buffet”. You don’t get to say that everyone should be treated equally while actively neglecting and ignoring the narrative of a community in need of help. This doesn’t mean one person’s discrimination is more or less important than another’s or that, it means that all discrimination is evil and must be fought. I’m going to be coming out shortly with a blog post on antisemitism and what you can do to help the Jewish community in their fight against antisemitism 💙✡️
- In December 2019: a knife attack that wounded five people at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York.
- Also in December of 2019: 3 people were found dead inside JC Kosher Supermarket after suspected shooters David Anderson and Francine Graham opened fire.
- Another December, 2019 incident: A 34-year-old woman and her 4-year-old son were attacked in Brooklyn, NY by someone who yelled anti-Semitic slurs and hit the mother in the head.
I could go on citing examples, but they are heart-wrenching.
Antisemitic incidents in the United States reached the highest on record in 2019, according to a press release from the Anti-Defamation League.
We know antisemitism is on the rise in the United States—while the FBI reports that all hate crimes across the U.S. rose in 2017, antisemitism saw the greatest increase.
We know that the man arrested for The Tree of Life attack was active in online white supremacist communities.
He was a 19 year old college student. We cannot get used to this.
If change is to come, educators will be the ones who help to usher it in.
Although the recent—and ongoing—national conversation surrounding hate and bias incidents has focused largely on the targeting of Muslim, Latino and African-American individuals and communities, it is clear that antisemitism is alive and well in the United States. It’s proponents feel emboldened. In community centers, religious schools and places of worship—places intended to offer safe spaces and support positive identity formation—such threats and attacks are particularly unsettling.
While the news is at once disheartening and terrifying, Teaching Tolerance is firm in their belief that inclusive, anti-bias education is the antidote to the fear and hatred that leads to violence.
Clearly, this work is more necessary than ever—and clearly we must include Jewish voices, perspectives and experiences in our teaching if we are to be responsive to the current climate of intimidation in our country.
Here are some resources to help you learn about Jewish identities and antisemitism:
- TT’s free film One Survivor Remembers and teacher’s guide
- TT’s school climate resources, including Responding to Hate and Bias at School
- Selections from our Student Text library: “Out of Auschwitz,” “About Feeling Jewish,” “Danger on My Doorstep,” “Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport” and “What Is Talmud?”
- Facing History and Ourselves’ antisemitism and religious intolerance resources
- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s tools and resources for anti-bias education
- A classroom activity from the ADL titled Anti-Semitic Incidents: Being an Ally, Advocate and Activist
- The United States Holocaust Museum’s tools and resources
TT agree’s 100 percent with Gesher Jewish Day School, one of the schools targeted in the past, that “the work of educating joyful young minds [must continue] unabated.” In a Facebook post, the school acknowledged the threat but encouraged its followers to “learn something new every day, practice justice, kindness, and respect.”
It is only by committing to these principles that we can move forward and help our young people grow up confident that those who look, love or worship differently than they do pose no threat to them personally or to the American way of life.