Anti-Semitic attacks: Escalating American bigotry

This year and decade end with Anti-Semitic attacks on the rise in America. Members of the Jewish community openly say they feel frightened and unsafe.
Anti-Semitic signs spotted near high schools in America: Signs of increasing hate. (Composite Photo)

America ends its decade of 2010-2019 as a nation where bigots and racists abound, aided by a president who thrives on his support from those who hate, maim and kill anyone who is not white, Christian, Anglo-Saxon stock.

“He’s promoting racism,” says former presidential candidate Beto O’Roarke. “He inciting racism and violence in this country.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders agrees:

Mr. President: stop your racist, hateful and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Your language creates a climate which emboldens violent extremists.

It’s not just racism. It is also a religious bigotry.

This year and decade end with Anti-Semitic attacks on the rise in America. Members of the Jewish community openly say they feel frightened and unsafe.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls actions by Americans against Jews “domestic terrorism.

“This is a national phenomenon that we are seeing and it’s frightening and it’s disturbing,” Cuomo said Sunday after a knife-wielding man stabbed five people after storming into a Hanukkah party in New York. “If anyone thinks that something poisonous is not going on in this country, then they’re in denial.” The Anti-Defamation League lists 1,879 incidents of anti-Semitism in New York in 2018, a year when a gunman killed 11 congregants and wounded six others after barging into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg.

In April of this year, during observance of Passover, a man brought a gun into the Poway, Calif. house of Jewish worship, killed one worshipper and injured three others.

Earlier this month, David Anderson and Francine Graham’s violent rampage at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City and killed three. They had posted anti-Semitic and anti-police remarks online.

Reports the Washington Post:

On Dec. 23, a 28-year-old man punched and kicked a 65-year-old in midtown Manhattan while yelling anti-Semitic slurs, police said. Steven Jorge was charged with assault in the second degree as a hate crime.

On Thursday, an Orthodox woman was walking with her 3-year-old son in Gravesend, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, when she was approached from behind by Ayana Logan, officials said.

Logan, 42, whacked the 34-year-old mother in the head, officials say, and delivered an ominous message: “You f—ing Jew. Your end is coming to you.” She was arraigned on charges of assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and endangering the welfare of a child.

A day later, 30-year-old Tiffany Harris slapped three Orthodox women in the face and head in Crown Heights, a neighborhood known for its heavy Orthodox population and history of racial tension.

Police were convinced of Harris’s motive because of what she told them after the incident. “I cursed them out,” Harris allegedly told officers taking her into custody. “I said ‘F’ you, Jews.”

“An atmosphere of hate has been developing in this country over the last few years. A lot of it is emanating from Washington and it’s having an effect on all of us,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“Donald Trump has tried to stir up hate and division in our country,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Sunday in Iowa, where she’s campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. “You can never draw the line straight from one place to another. But he has embraced hatred and unkindness among our people in ways that put Americans at risk.”

Floyd County has Jews living and working in our community. They own businesses and contribute generously to events. Yet I’ve heard anti-Jewish rhetoric from the pulpits of more than one Christian church where pastors condemn anyone who does not accept their argument that Jesus Christ was the son of God. Our Jewish friends are passionate about their religious beliefs as anyone we know and their arguments are based on faith, not blasphemy. I also recorded some anti-Semitic rhetoric at the Second Amendment Sanctuary comments hearing held by the board of supervisors at the high school auditorium earlier this month. One Jewish resident who opposed the resolution was booed loudly by residents who shouted at him and displayed “thumbs down” as he walked back to his seat.

Trump has publicly expressed anger at the attacks on Jewish worshipers. “The anti-Semitic attack in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukkah last night is horrific,” he said. “We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism.”

Critics of Trump, however, point out that he often makes such claims then says something contradictory later. When he “condemned” racism after the events in Charlottesville that led to the death of a woman protesting racists, he then said, “of course, there is blame for both sides.”

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of the Univerity of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, says Trump is hypocritical when he talks about “one voice.”

“When a president says we must speak in one voice, and the voice that he is speaking in is the voice he also was speaking in when he said things that were racist and bigoted, one should ask, have you decided to now reform your rhetoric?” Jamieson said. “It’s particularly important in moments when the country needs to come together around a national tragedy. Donald Trump has effectively forfeited his right to do that because of the language he has used in the past.”

Vanessa Beasley, professor of communication studies at Vanderbilt University and an expert of presidential rhetoric says Trump can’t make comments that spur divisions and then talk about unifying.

“The reason there’s going to be a credibility issue there is because he’s spent so much time to date as president remaining engaged in campaign rhetoric,” she said. “And his campaign rhetoric is characteristically us versus them.”

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