At this moment, with 11 families mourning the loss of their relatives after the Pittsburgh shooting, with a community grieving, and with a world of Jews scared for what comes next, some Americans seem to be more focused on associating every societal issue with the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
I am not pro-Trump, nor do I agree with the majority of his policies. And while I do recognize the correlation between the 2016 election and the rise in hate crimes and discrimination, as a Jewish citizen I’ve begun to notice that, in America, the real issue is being ignored.
Regardless of one’s personal views on Trump, the problem lies in the fact that when a hate crime takes place, our country is quicker to point fingers at the Republican Party than they are to actually stand with the Jewish people.
As soon as news of the events in Pittsburgh spread, people too readily associated the attack with Trump and Republicans, without recognizing that anti-Semitism has been around for thousands of years, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen almost 60 percent from 2016-2017. This report has been out for more than eight months, yet it takes 11 innocent Jews to be killed while worshipping for us to start talking about the severity of anti-Semitism. And while the right might be at fault for spinning hateful rhetoric, this issue shouldn’t be made partisan.
Instead of trying to fix the inherent anti-Semitism present in the United States, we simply point fingers at various conservative politicians and pass along the blame. Anti-Semitism should be recognized by everyone, regardless of background or of political party. Without this recognition, the problem will continue to worsen.
From kindergarten to eighth grade I attended a Jewish day school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sheltered by my community, it wasn’t until high school, when my school received a bomb threat and my community synagogue was defaced with graffiti swastikas, that I began to notice the horrible realities of anti-Semitism.
Jews are put down, demeaned and belittled every day, yet it is ignored and associated with the anti-Zionist movement. And worst of all, when 11 innocent Jews are killed in a horrendous act of violence against the Jewish religion, we make it partisan, using the incident to spew hate against the right and “righteously” advocate for gun control.
By doing so, we push anti-Semitism aside. Instead of standing with the Jewish people in a critical time of need, we advocate for our own agendas. While there is no denying the need for stricter laws regarding access to firearms, gun control won’t change anti-Semitism. Not only do we need to prevent anti-Semitic acts from occurring, regardless of the weapon of choice, but we need to stand with the Jewish people and demolish the roots of anti-Semitism that have become so ingrained in our society.
Trump has not spoken forcefully enough about white nationalism, nor has he rightfully condemned the anti-Semitic rhetoric that was present in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. But using the Jewish people and the hate crimes they endure as a political pawn to expose Trump calls into question how serious we are about combating anti-Semitism.
The families of the 11 murdered Jews had not mourned their loss or buried their loved ones before we started to use their deaths as political leverage.
In order to commemorate the lives of the lost and properly address the anti-Semitism that is so prevalent in our country and around the world, we must throw away partisan agendas. Regardless of politics, background or bias, it is time to stand with the Jewish people.