Do not be indifferent to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist hatred. Lead the fight against hate.
SWASTIKAS deface a Jewish-owned business. A headless doll displays a note reading “Death to All Jews” on the door of a college dormitory. An anti-Israel poster depicts a rabbi eating a bloody baby. Members of a pro-Palestinian organization march into a store and shout at the Jewish owner, “Hitler was right.”
Scenes from 1930s Germany? No. These are but a few examples of the anti-Semitic invective confronting Jews recently in Washington state. Anti-semitism is on the rise, easily visible in hate crimes here and across the globe. But the local resurgence of anti-Semitism attempts to hide behind a thin veil of “anti-Zionism.”
Both anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are fueled by irrational hatred of the Jewish people. As this rhetoric grows ever louder and more virulent we must not forget what happens when too many people keep their mouths closed and their eyes averted.
For two millennia, anti-Semitism forced Jews from their homeland, compelled them to practice their faith in secret, and was the root of the worst genocide the world has ever seen. Jews have faced ongoing hatred in Europe and Arab lands, suffering murder, rape, slavery and expulsions, with only intermittent times of peace and safety.
The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was supposed to change all that. But today, four wars and many conflicts later, we see a surge of anti-Semitism embodied in hatred of Israel and in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against the Jewish state. At its core, BDS is anti-Semitic. The BDS campaign calls itself a “human rights” movement and flaunts a few adherents from the Jewish community to give it flimsy cover against charges that BDS is anti-Semitic.
Make no mistake, however. The goal of BDS is not to create two, peaceful, sovereign states — Israel and Palestine — but to delegitimize and demonize Israel, blaming only the Jewish state for a complex conflict in which both sides struggle to reach a peaceful, secure accord. Worse, the BDS movement fans the flames with distorted, inaccurate claims and revolting images invoking ancient anti-Semitic tropes. As the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt said at the U.N. recently, “In truth, despite the veneer of rationality attached to BDS and delegitimization, these tactics are not new — they are a continuation of what seems like an eternal campaign against the Jewish people.”
No state, including Israel, is blameless, and the Palestinian struggle for statehood must be appreciated. The well-being and security of Palestinians and Israelis, each in their own state, depends on it.
Critiques of Israeli government actions are one thing. But critiques metastasizing into Jew hatred are quite another.
Fierce anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment has taken hold at universities across the nation; the ADL reports almost a 50 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents at colleges last year. This year at Western Washington University, several extreme incidents of anti-Semitism caused WWU President Bruce Shepard to convene a special task force to address the problem. At the University of Washington, a small, vocal group in the graduate student union sought to co-opt union time and resources to push a BDS resolution. A month ago, burned pages from a book by a Jewish poet were scattered outside the UW’s Hillel building, a sickening reminder of Jewish books burned during the Inquisition. Too many state-funded universities have allowed hate speech and anti-Zionist tropes to create a hostile environment for Jewish students.
We call on our state’s leaders and our fellow Washingtonians to recognize and speak out against anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist hatred. We call on our legislators to express concern when Jews face anti-Semitism and take actions that give Jews the same protections afforded other minorities. We call on college administrators to protect their students and true free speech on their campuses through education and prevention of hateful acts that intimidate and silence.
Do not be indifferent. Lead the fight against hate.