DAILY DOSE OF FACTS:
- An anti-Semite is a person who is a person who is hostile to or prejudiced against Jewish people.
- According to the ADL, anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses nearly doubled from 2015 to 2016.
- On Thursday, February 16, Donald Trump refused to respond to a reporter when he asked how the White House plans to address the recent bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers.
SO WHAT’S GOING ON?
In January, 48 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in 26 states and one Canadian province received almost 60 bomb threats. On January 9, 18 and 31, most of these threats were made in rapid succession. Nearly 60 bomb threats.
SO WHAT IS THE WHITE HOUSE DOING TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE?
On Thursday, February 16, Donald Trump held a press conference and was confronted with a question by Jake Turx, a Jewish reporter with Ami Magazine. Turx was aware of Trump’s defensiveness and prefaced his question about the rise in bomb threats against JCCs accordingly. He stated he did not see any evidence that Trump or the staff were anti-Semitic and mentioned Trump’s Jewish grandchildren. He then asked why the dozens of bomb threats to JCCs not being addressed by the White House and how the government is planning to take care of an uptick in anti-Semitism.
Trump’s response was felt around the room. He interrupted Turx that his question was not “simple” and “easy.” He also told the reporter to sit down as he continued to defend himself and not answer the question.
Then, Trump stated, “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” This statement, which, regardless of how you feel about Trump, is false and not what Turx asked. Anti-Semitism is a real issue and by deflecting this important question about bomb threats to JCCs, Trump is wasting an opportunity to hold his staff accountable to address the threats made about Jewish American citizens.
Later on during the conference, Jared Rizzi, the White House correspondent for Sirius XM followed up on Turx’s question. Rizzi said, “It’s not about your personality or your beliefs. We’re talking about a rise in anti-Semitism around the country. Some of it by supporters in your name. What can you do to deter that?”
Again, Trump was defensive. He said that it was his political opponent’s supporters that were making him seem anti-Semitic. Again, Trump did not answer the question.
SO IS ANYTHING BEING DONE?
The FBI stated that the bureau and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connections with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country.”
Currently, there has been increased security and panic among parents. Children have been withdrawn from programs due to the fear of attacks on JCCs. Those sources of funds are causing centers to have to cut their budgets and lay off staff.
As of February 20, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has just responded to the latest string of bomb threats to JCCs. He responded “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”
Although there has been a response by the White House, no action has taken place to stop these threats.
SO WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
There has been a significant rise in anti-Semitism across the world and increased acts and expressions of bigotry surrounding the U.S. presidential campaign. Last year and this January proved to have increasingly high numbers of local anti-Semitic incidents.
The chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Anti-Semitism Task Force stated, “The rhetoric around the presidential election not only legitimized bigotry against all minorities, as we’ve seen through a variety of statistics, but also included specific coded and overt anti-Semitic expressions. That climate on the national level affects the local community too.”
You should care because if history has taught us anything, it has taught us that increases in violence and harassment against minorities, whether based on religion, gender, race, sexuality or other identities, can have terrible and destructive consequences.
SO WHAT DO I THINK?
If you know me, chances are you know what I think about this issue. Anti-Semitism has run deep throughout the world since the Jewish faith began. The Jewish history is plagued with slavery, murder, blame, and, of course, the Holocaust.
I will never forget the day that I was torn away from my naive world with the words,
“I hate Jewish people.”
I never imagined a person I knew could hate a group of people. The years following this statement were filled with news and quotes far too similar. I still don’t fully understand this kind of hatred, but I’ve learned that hate is inspired by fear.
I think Trump’s fear of being called an anti-Semite and racist are preventing any real action to be taken place to address the recent bomb threats on JCCs. I think that because Judaism is in the minority, that some people see Jewish people as “scary” and “different.” I also think that my ancestors would be proud of me for writing this article. I think each time someone stands up for a minority group that the world is made a bit better.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO ABOUT THIS?
Think about what you say. Do you make jokes about minority groups or religions? Do you use derogatory language towards individuals who have different identities than your own?
Don’t stick to once source of news, whether that be CNN, FOX, or another leaning news source. Diversify your information by reading local newspapers or articles from news sources that are from a different racial or religious perspective.
Stand up to your government and demand correct answers to questions posed in new conferences. Write to your local legislation and press. Are there resources you can lend to your local Jewish Community Centers?
I honestly don’t know if we can make the Trump Administration tell the truth and do away with “alternative facts.” I do think that writing to local and state government can only help. Even if you email or letter ends up in a pile, at least it makes the pile bigger and bigger until it can no longer be ignored.
Standing up to your government and prejudice is not easy, but rather necessary. Everything you say or do about or for a minority group can have an effect on the way others perceive that group.