Ignoring Antisemitism


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On January 15, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas, a bar mitzvah service was being conducted at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue. What should have been one of the best days of the bar mitzvah boy’s life was quickly and horrifically converted into one of the worst; a celebration of life tainted by the looming threat of death. The gunman entered the synagogue posing as a homeless man, and in the eleven hours that ensued, held four congregants hostage, demanded that they release a terrorist who had been in prison for ten years and spewed hateful antisemitic rhetoric. Though all four congregants eventually rescued themselves, it was a tragic day for the Jewish community, a reminder of how vulnerable we are, even in our sacred place of worship.


One would think that this monumental event would make headlines across America, but they would be seriously overestimating how often antisemitism is overlooked in this country. On January 15, 2022, the New York Times, a famously liberal paper, had stories concerning Democrat voting dilemmas, vaccine mandates for children, qualms with Russia, and even chopping down a historically significant tree. The story of four Jewish people forced to grovel for their lives in the place holiest to them was nowhere to be found.


Not only have Jewish people been disproportionately targeted in America, but our stories far too often go unheard. Nearly 60% of religious-based hate crimes are targeted towards a group that makes up 2% of the population, yet antisemitism often fails to provoke outrage from progressives. In fact, the hatred of the Jewish people seems to be one of the only things that the far left and right agree on. Even supposedly reputable sources are guilty of perpetuating antisemitism just last month, the BBC justified an antisemitic attack by claiming that the victims were using Islamaphobic slurs − a claim later found to be baseless. The fact that the media deems a chopped-down tree more worthy of a story than a prolonged synagogue hostage situation says everything there is to be said about how ignored antisemitism is in our culture. 


Even as a madman held Jews hostage, muttering antisemitic and anti-Israel remarks while holding a gun to their heads, the media still somehow finds a way to deny the attack on the Jewish community. At a press conference on the night of the incident, FBI Special Agent Matthew DeSarno said, “We do believe from our engagement with this subject that he was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.” 


This denial of a clear act of antisemitism is not only inaccurate but incredibly dangerous. To ignore antisemitism is to perpetrate it. The last time antisemitism was ignored, the last time we chose to turn a blind eye rather than addressing the issue at hand, six million Jews lost their lives. We cannot continue to feign unawareness; we cannot ignore antisemitism. We must fight it, and do so loudly and proudly.