Rabbi Josh Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons and Father Constantine Lazarakis of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons discuss the resurgence of anti-Semitism.
Father Constantine Lazarakis
I am deeply troubled, as each and every one of us should be, at the recent and completely unacceptable uptick in anti-Semitism we have witnessed here in New York, across our great country and in the world. When I look back on the past year, I am sometimes afraid that we have forgotten who we are. The United States of America is a country that dares to see beyond the conventions prejudice. We are a people who have constantly striven to make our bond of common humanity stronger than the forces of animosity. We have E Pluribus Unum as a national motto. We fought Hitler and, together with our allies, triumphed over the horrors of the Nazis. We share in Martin Luther King Jr’s. dream of a truly great nation in which children of every race and background join hands as brothers and sisters.
And even as equality, mutual respect, love, and tolerance constitute our truest legacy and are our greatest aspirations, the Anti-Defamation League reports some of the highest levels of anti-Semitic incidents in the last three years. This comes to us in a greater context; a context in which we see a tremendous spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, a context in which light is shed on the violent mistreatment of people of color, a context in which those who would peddle hatred and discrimination pose as the defenders of freedom and prosperity.
It is time to stop and remember who we are and what we stand for. We must stand against anti-Semitism, and we must stand in solidarity, not only with our Jewish brothers and sisters who are subject to anti-Semitic attacks, but with all who face persecution and discrimination. In so doing, we honor our identity as sons and daughters of God, bound by our common humanity.
Rabbi Josh Franklin
My mother recently gave my five-year-old daughter a Star of David necklace as a gift. She wears it proudly and will tell anyone who will listen that it means that she’s Jewish. I’m now scared to let her wear such an outward symbol of her Jewishness in public.
Over the last few weeks, anti-Semitic violence in the United States and around the world has skyrocketed. This surge of violent hate crimes is not predominantly the handiwork of neo-Nazis on the far right as you might expect; rather they stem mainly from “social justice activists” carrying a call to “Free Palestine.” This was the chant as “activists” savagely beat a rabbi in the UK, and it was the war cry of a caravan of demonstrators swarming a Beverly Hills sushi restaurant to target Jewish patrons with glass bottles and pepper spray. These assailants mixed in the age-old anti-Semitic rallying call: “Death to the Jews.” Incidents like these are the forefront of a new wave of anti-Semitism.
Far too often anti-Semites masquerade as activists critiquing Israel. Criticism of Israel is sometimes warranted and is not necessarily anti-Semitism. But as it happens, it far too often is just that. If anti-Israel sentiment had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, then we wouldn’t be witnessing the 500% escalation of attacks and vandalism against Jews (not Israelis) during and in the wake of the current conflict in Israel. Jews are being spit on, assaulted, and called names like “Zionist baby killer” or “Jewish colonizer.” One of the more popular trending phrases on Twitter right now is “Hitler was right,” and these tweets are coming primarily from the leftist groups and individuals like CNN contributor Adeel Raja, who recently tweeted: “The world needs another Hitler.” What makes this surge of rhetoric and violence particularly disturbing is the deafening silence and dearth of support for the Jewish community from the public.
Anti-Semites always have a way of justifying their views, and typically deny that what they are saying is at all wrong. People don’t want to be called an anti-Semite as much as they don’t want to be called a racist. For those woke to racism, I ask that you please take note of endemic anti-Semitism also. When a Jew tells you that something is anti-Semitic, please don’t get defensive and deny it, or what’s worse, try to justify your words. Instead, listen, learn and reflect!