‘There Is Still So Much Evil’: Growing Anti-Semitism Stuns American Jews

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/us/anti-semitism-attacks.html

By Laurie Goodstein
Oct. 29, 2018

Until recent years, many Jews in America believed that the worst of anti-Semitism was over there, in Europe, a vestige of the old country.

American Jews were welcome in universities, country clubs and corporate boards that once excluded their grandparents. They married non-Jews, moved into mixed neighborhoods and by 2000, the first Jew ran for vice president on a major party ticket.

So the massacre on Saturday of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, by a man who told the police when he surrendered that he “wanted all Jews to die,” was for many a shocking wake-up call.

“This kind of evil makes me think of the Holocaust and how people can be so cruel, that there is so much evil in the world, still,” said Moshe Taube, 91, a retired cantor from Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh and a survivor of the Holocaust.

But it did not come out of nowhere, said experts in anti-Semitism. At the same time that Jews were feeling unprecedented acceptance in the United States, the climate was growing increasingly hostile, intensifying in the two years since President Trump was elected. And it comes at a time when attacks on Jews are on the rise in Europe as well, with frequent anti-Semitic episodes in France and Germany.

The hate in the United States came into full view last year as white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., with lines of men carrying torches and chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”

Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti have been cropping up on synagogues and Jewish homes around the country. Jews online are subjected to vicious slurs and threats. Many synagogues and Jewish day schools have been amping up security measures.

The Anti-Defamation League logged a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2017, compared to the previous year — including bomb threats, assaults, vandalism, and anti-Semitic posters and literature found on college campuses.

A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League said that before Saturday’s shooting, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent United States history was in 1985, when a man killed a family of four in Seattle. He had mistakenly thought they were Jewish.

There was also an attack by a white supremacist on a Jewish Community Center filled with children in Los Angeles in 1999 that injured five. More recently, in 2014, a white supremacist opened fire outside a Jewish Community Center in a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., killing three people.

“I’m not a Chicken Little who’s always yelling, ‘It’s worse than it’s ever been!’ But now I think it’s worse than it’s ever been,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust history at Emory University in Atlanta and the author of a planned book on anti-Semitism.

Ms. Lipstadt said she did not wish to be seen as alarmist, because in some ways “things have never been better” for Jews in America.

But she likened anti-Semitism to a herpes infection that lies dormant and re-emerges at times of stress. It does not go away, no matter how “acculturated” Jews have become in America, because “it’s a conspiracy theory,” said Ms. Lipstadt, whose win at trial against a Holocaust denier in England was portrayed in the 2016 movie “Denial.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/us/anti-semitism-attacks.html

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