Antisemitism in America: An Epidemic

Anti-Semitic Incidents have increased since 2016, but why?

Amanda Swank, Editor-in-Chief

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On Saturday, October 27th, eleven people were killed and six more were injured at the Tree of Life Pittsburgh synagogue. The reason? It’s because they were Jewish. Rose Mallinger, who was alive during the Holocaust, was the eldest victim at the age of 97. Robert Bowers, the instigator of this horrific event, reportedly told a SWAT officer that he “wanted all Jews to die and that they were committing genocide to his people”.

Barry Werber, a survivor of the attack stated, “This was the land of liberty. This was the land where we could breathe free air, where we could not worry about anything. We were away from oppression. And the Nazis are here again.”

Regarded as the deadliest attack on Jewish people in American history, this shooting is not the first one. On April 13th 2014, a former leader of the KKK opened fire at a Jewish community Center in Kansas. And in 1999, another man fired 70 shots in a Jewish community center, injuring 5 people.

American Antisemitism is nothing new, however the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents has noticeably increased since 2016. Half of the reported anti-religious hate crimes in America were motivated by Antisemitism, according to the FBI in 2016. And the Anti-Defamation League found that in 2017, there was a 60% increase in anti-Semitic incidents.

But why has there been such an increase in such recent  incidents? The answer might lie in our government. President Trump has been accused of inciting violence through calling himself a “nationalist” at one if his rallies on Monday the 19th:

” You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? I’m a nationalist.
“Nationalist. Nothing — use that word. Use that word.”

The word nationalism is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups”. Nationalism is a term with an ugly history. Nazi Germany was built on the idea of extreme nationalism and that German people were superior to other ethnic groups. Neo-Nazis today consider themselves nationalists as well.

White nationalism, as seen in riots in Charlottesville, Virginia of 2017, is just as dangerous. Their belief of inherent Caucasian superiority which, in a way, fits in with Nazi ideology and is extremely dangerous.

But what does that have to do with our government? By accepting this ideology, Trump is inciting violence across America, especially towards Jews and people of color, which can be seen in last week’s synagogue attack.