Where Are We in the Fight Against Anti-Semitism?
Last week, the Simon Wiesenthal Center released a list of its top 10 worst anti-Semitic offenses of 2014. Founder and dean of the organization, Rabbi Marvin Hier, explained to The Jerusalem Post that the list is meant to highlight how “rhetoric at the top has filtered down to average people,” meaning that repeat offenders were not included. The list includes the recent outbreak of anti-Semitism in the UK, the spread of hate in academia, a rape and assault in Paris and certain individuals who personally expressed anti-Semitism , among others.
While the anti-Semitism seen on this list is alarming, it is important to note that there is also progress being made around the globe. For example, a new report from the United Kingdom shows significant progress being made by the government in combating anti-Semitism. The “Government Action on Anti-Semitism” report, published on December 29, 2014 by the Department for Communities and Local Government, noted advances despite a surge of incidents this summer during Israel’s military operation in Gaza, also mentioned in the Wiesenthal Center report. In July and August, there were 543 anti-Semitic incidents reported in the U.K. including physical assaults, vandalism and graffiti. These two months saw more attacks than the entire year previous.
The report recommends subsidizing extra security measures at Jewish schools and implementing a “zero tolerance” approach to online hate crimes and Eric Pickles, the U.K.’s Communities and Local Government secretary said that new measures to stamp out anti-Semitism on university campuses will be introduced. He also said that the nation’s schoolchildren will be taught about the Holocaust.
The attention and commitment of the government in the U.K. is promising and well-received in the fight against anti-Semitism. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. The Anti-Defamation League reports that more than 1 billion people still harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, based on their responses to a list of anti-Semitic stereotypes they were presented with. In light of these facts, we are fortunate to live in a country that respects religious freedom and works to ensure that everyone is able to safely practice their religious traditions without fear of being persecuted.