The rise of Antisemitism in America

Painted poster displays protest against anti-semitism.

Olivia Gilbert

Painted poster displays protest against anti-semitism.

Antisemitism: the hatred of Jews. Antisemitic behavior hit an all-time high in 2021 with a 34% rise. There is, on average, more than seven altercations every day–a horrifying number. So now the question stands, how do we stop the hate?

Sarah Barash, the founder of Chabad of Jupiter, a place of worship dedicated to the strengthening of faith for local Jews, explains what the religion and culture of Judaism means to her. 

“Judaism to me is a source of faith, identity and community. Judaism helps me cultivate a deeper connection with my soul, which helps me identify with my God given purpose,” Barash said. “It gives me a set of principles and values to live by and a connection to a greater spiritual force.” 

Although there have been thousands of hate crimes against the Jewish community over the past decades, four years ago, a Pittsburgh incident reached national news after a White Supremacist gunned down 11 members of the Tree of Life Congregation. Rabbi Jeffrey Myers did an interview with Haaretz News where he put the blame on one place. 

“Shame on you, America,” Myers. “You let it grow in this petri dish.”

Now, big stars have expressed their support for disgusting dictators like Adolf Hitler who created a genocide that killed over six million Jews. Kanye West, a well-known Hollywood rapper, had his Twitter account suspended after spreading antisemitism and insinuating hate crimes across the country. 

“When you have a platform, there are things to not say and you need a filter. He lacks that filter,” Bree Dinow, a Jewish sophomore, said. “You can have your own opinions, but you don’t need to hate on people.” 

West’s close friend, Nick Fuentes, a White Supremacist and Holocaust denier, was in Palm Beach in late Nov. for a dinner at Mar-A-Lago with former President Donald Trump. The affair has brought avid attention to Nick Fuentes and his antisemitic views. 

“I was not aware of Nick Fuentes until after his dinner date with Trump,” Freddie Dozer, a Jewish junior, said. “Trump has consistently been able to get away with politically incorrect things, as his supporters don’t hold him accountable.” 

Although antisemitism has provoked more conversation lately, it is not new. Barash explained her experience with hate. 

“I don’t think antisemitism is worse than ever. It has always existed. Perhaps it takes on different forms today. Bullies can hide behind screens. Hate movements can easily morph on social media,” Barash said. “Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I witnessed more antisemitic incidents than my children have experienced today. When I was really young, my family came home from a trip to find swastikas and antisemitic slurs graffitied across our mirrors.” 

Barash explained her opinions about West and his effect on the Jewish community. 

“Kanye’s rants are stoking the fires of antisemitism. Kanye’s statements are not only incredibly offensive and harmful, but they are also incredibly concerning given his large platform and influence,” she said. “I know that people have already been traumatized and pained by people who were emboldened by Kanye’s words. I pray it doesn’t lead to violence, but his praise of Hitler and hearing others echo his words is alarming.”

As a young Jewish woman, who learned about the Holocaust from a young age and has seen influential stars speaking and praising the worst dictator this world has ever seen, I can confidently say this has permanently damaged our community. 

To have these opinions is hurtful enough, but to have such a wide platform and influence people with your horrific beliefs is spreading hate and encouraging antisemitism. To bring attention and praise him, a man that speaks in denial of the mass murdering of European Jews, is blatantly hate. 

By 1945, 2 in 3 Jews, were dead. Currently, there are around 15 million Jews in the world, and Kanye West has over 30 million followers. That fact alone should startle you down to your core. 

An ongoing question is, why? Why do people hate? Why do they spread hate? Why do they feel this is okay? Barash explains how she would deal with speaking to a hater. 

“My personality is such that I’d probably ask him what pain he’s carrying inside. Hurt people, hurt people,” Barash said. “Antisemitism often stems from wounded people looking for a scapegoat or filling a void.” 

With Hanukkah right around the corner, I want to emphasize that the Holidays are a time of giving and kindness. Hate has no place in this world and as long as it continues, we will once again fight antisemitism for as long as it takes. 

“I’ll end with the message of Chanukah. A little light dispels a lot of darkness,” Barash said.