Lifting the veil of anti-Semitism

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Tremaine Harvey, Opinion Editor

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Entire senate urges the Trump administration to swiftly address concerns of growing hate crimes, against Jews in America.

All 100 senators unanimously agreed, in a letter signed March 7, that it is incumbent upon the new administration to deal with what appears to be loosed anti-Semitism, under the Trump administration. The Senate gives approval of the administration’s recent attempt to denounce hate and violence, however say they are deeply troubled by the string of anonymous bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues as well as other Jewish-affiliated institutions around America.

They believe the threats of violence at individual JCCs are not isolated incidents. They say, “According to the Jewish Federation of North America, in the first two months of 2017 alone, at least 98 incidents against JCCs and Jewish Day Schools at 81 locations in 33 states have been reported.” In addition to the desecration of Jewish headstones in St. Louis and Philadelphia cemeteries.

JCCs in San Diego have also received bomb threats in recent weeks. Fox5 reports that in early March police were summoned to the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in University City, to investigate what Fox5 says is yet “another in a series of bogus bomb threats against JCCs.”

The San Diego police received the call, from administrators, early March 4,  to report “menacing” emails they received, according to Fox5. They say no evacuation was ordered by police, unlike the last time they received such a threat, however bomb sniffing dogs were utilized to sweep the building for hazardous materials.

Commonly when people think about anti-Semitism they reflect on the Holocaust. Most American school children learn about the diary of Anne Frank and the abominable actions of the Nazis. And though Hitler did not invent anti-Semitism, he and the Nazis amplified and exported it.

Anti-Semitism can be complex for a variety of reasons; namely because there are multiple avenues in which it can present itself. The most predominant reasons for negativity towards the Jews are racially and or religiously motivated. They stem from the period that Jesus is presumed to have been crucified.

According to the book of Matthew featured in the new testament, Jewish leaders brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate (a Roman authority) demanding his crucifixion. Britannica explains “Although Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples were practicing Jews and Christianity is rooted in the Jewish teaching of monotheism, Judaism and Christianity became rivals soon after Jesus was crucified.”

In recent history, the Roman Catholic Church has accepted Judaism as a legitimate and continuing religion. They also exonerated Jewish people by establishing what Britannica calls “universal responsibility,” for the crucifixion. However, it should have already been difficult to argue that an entire race of people was responsible for what potentially occurred so long ago.

Stephen Baxter works at San Diego’s first cigar shop, Racine & Laramie, in Old Town, San Diego. He said he is “Jewish by blood, not by practice.” He mentioned that living on the West coast gives the illusion that things have cooled, but said the East Coast can provide a sober reminder.

Racine & Laramie opened in 1868 and 21 years later in 1889, San Diego’s first synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, was erected no more than a mile away. Sdparks.org says the temple “Is a fine example of the Victorian architecture of wealthy San Diego residents in the late 1880s-1890s.” The temple remains in Heritage County Park, which is adjacent to Old Town and is City Historic Site #82.

After WWII, negativity towards the Jews became increasingly unpopular in America, as did other anti-European racism. Karen Brodkin explains, in her book “How Did Jews Become White Folks?” that “American anti-Semitism was part of a broader pattern of late-nineteenth-century racism against all southern and eastern European immigrants, as well as against Asian immigrants.”

The end of WWII left America standing with the strongest economy in the world. Thus, providing economic advancements and opportunities for all European immigrants, not just the Nordic and Anglo-Saxon ones; who considered themselves to be superior and the true Americans. Brodkin says “I continue to be surprised to read that America did not always regard its immigrant European workers as white, that they thought people from different nations were biologically different.”

She goes into detail about how the changing economy, after the war, led to upwards mobility for Jewish Americans; she also notes that the same advantages were not granted to women or African Americans:

“The myth that Jews pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps ignores the fact that it took federal programs to create the conditions whereby the abilities of Jews and other European immigrants could be recognized and rewarded rather than denigrated and denied. The GI Bill and FHA and VA mortgages were forms of affirmative action that allowed male Jews and other Euro-American men to become suburban homeowners and to get the training that allowed them—but not women vets or war workers—to become professionals, technicians, salesmen, and managers in a growing economy. Jews’ and other white ethnics’ upward mobility was the result of programs that allowed us to float on a rising economic tide. To African Americans, the government offered the cement boots of segregation, redlining, urban renewal, and discrimination.”

It is difficult to know the motivations of these menacing perpetrators, who go about making bomb threats to JCCs and desecrating grave sites. Or the particular brand of hatred that is responsible for such behavior in 21st century America. However, one thing seems to be clear, Jewish people were not a socially privileged class in America and by some phenomena are still being terrorized; and potentially more so under America’s 45th president, Donald Trump.

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