Letter: Fighting Anti-Semitism

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In response to the editorial titled “Have We Learned Nothing?

In the past year, we witnessed the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. The tragedy occurred in a Pittsburgh Synagogue leaving 11 dead and countless more injured. More recently, a gunman opened fire in a San Diego synagogue just as the Passover holiday was coming to an end. These tragic, despicable attacks must act as a wakeup call to each of us, and raise our awareness to the many smaller anti-Semitic crimes occurring in society today.

In New York City, anti-Semitic crime has increased by 82 percent in the past four months, compared to the same period last year. According to the Anti Defamation League, 2018 had a 99 percent increase in such incidents compared to 2015, with harassment and vandalism targeting Jews increasing the most. The rapid rise of anti-Semitic rhetoric, the unfair criticism of our strongest ally, Israel, and the subsequent tolerance of such behavior has created an environment that allows anti-Semitism to grow.

Ilhan Omar, a Democratic Congresswoman, has publicly accused Jews of “allegiance to a foreign country,” suggesting Jews buy political support. In 2012, she tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” These statements are the recreation of ages-old anti-Semitic tropes continuously used against Jews. Another Democratic Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, recently declared a “calming feeling” on Holocaust Remembrance Day and that Palestinians lost their lives “in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews.”

Firstly, Tlaib’s statement is factually inaccurate as Haj Amin Al Husseini, a Palestinian leader, worked to limit the acceptance of Jewish refugees fleeing Europe. Tlaib is openly against Israel and is now using the Holocaust to further her own agenda. Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day to grieve for the murdered, remember the survivors and to never forget the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. To date, Democratic Party leadership has failed to strongly condemn either Omar or Tlaib’s malevolent behavior.

Applying the principles the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement claims to adhere to, there should be an even greater outrage against other countries, such as China, Turkey and Russia. China continues to imprison and forcibly assimilate the Uighors, Turkey censors the media and has recently nullified a democratic election and Russia continues to imprison almost any citizen with a dissenting opinion.

While the actions of these nations are ignored, Israel—the lone Jewish state in the world and the only free democracy in the Middle East—is continually attacked. To impose such an attack upon Israel, while ignoring the actions of other nations, is to apply a double standard with anti-Semitism as its core.

Many of Israel’s leading critics, including the cofounder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, have accused Israel of apartheid. It’s ironic that Barghouti perpetuates the claim of apartheid, as he was personally educated in Israel at Tel Aviv University. As an Arab born in Qatar, Barghouti is a recipient of the freedom Israel offers. Israel is the only society open to all religions in the Middle East, currently has Arab representation within the government and Arabs have full voting rights. While Arabs represent almost 21 percent of Israel’s current population, Israeli Jews are barred from entering many Muslim countries around the world.

Israel has and continues to work toward creating peace and stability in the Middle East. It is anti-Semitic to solely condemn Israel while ignoring the actions of others. To properly fight against the rise in crime against Jews, we must first be prepared to counter all anti-Semitic rhetoric and discriminatory boycott movements against the only Jewish state in the world, Israel.

—David Billet


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