Swastikas and Silence

Swastikas and Silence

By:
09/09/2017

As always, they came for the Jews.

I’m watching TV after the riots in Charlottesville. I hear that a girl died after a neo-Nazi hit her with his car, I watch Klansmen perform Nazi salutes, and I listen to reporters talk about the growing “alt-right.” I pick up my phone and scroll down social media. Everyone is talking about protecting people of color and the statements Black Lives Matter activists have made in response to the weekend’s events. As always, none of my friends are talking about anti-Semitism. I have long since stopped being surprised.

See, I’m not afraid of the neo-Nazis. There aren’t enough of them for me to feel like they pose a real threat to my well-being and everyone laughs at them anyway. What I am really, genuinely terrified of is the left’s utter refusal to acknowledge any anti-Semitism, especially when it comes from within their own ranks.

I’m Jewish. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I know the importance of standing up to anti-Semitism. People seem to accept history, acknowledging that my people were the subject of hatred and genocide, but they think that’s all over. Nobody sees Jews as victims of discrimination anymore. Instead, stereotypes portray us as powerful, money-hungry, and manipulative. They say our sons are weak-willed and our daughters are indulged. People believe these claims and argue— look at all their money. How can they be oppressed? That, in itself, feeds into the oppression. If nobody stands up to oppressors, what would make them stop?

As a matter of fact, Jews experience violence at exorbitant rates. In 2015, the FBI reported that more than half of religiously-motivated hate crimes in the U.S. were committed against Jews— two and half times more than were committed against Muslims. Just last year, babies were being rushed out of Jewish Community Centers in their cots for fear of bombs. I became scared to visit my hometown because of its high Jewish population.

How many times have you heard about Islamophobia— girls getting their Hijabs ripped off, men being screamed at in the street for wearing their taqiyahs? Compare that to the number of times you’ve heard about rabbis being beaten or synagogues being vandalized, and you will see there is a problem with silence. If any other group experienced this level of hatred, there would be an outcry.

It isn’t accidental that the left wing ignores anti-Semitism. After all, confronting the problem would mean they would have to face the hatred in their own ranks.

They disguise it as anti-Zionism so it sounds progressive. They say all they’re doing is fighting for Palestinian rights. Wanting to wipe Israel off the map, along with everyone inside it? That’s anti-Semitic. The chants of, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” are treated as if they weren’t a call to kill every Jew who stands in their way. I was recently kicked out of a left-wing facebook group for not supporting Hamas, a group that has said on multiple occasions that they would kill me and my family if given the chance. If I do not denounce the very existence of Israel at every waking moment, I become Public Enemy #1.

Let me be clear— criticizing Israel’s policy is not anti-Semitic, but the ways in which much of the liberal community does it is, and it becomes hard to believe they are not intentional. Kicking queer Jews out of the Chicago Dyke march, blaming Jews for the actions of Israel, and using old hateful stereotypes against Jews to denounce Israel is blatantly anti-Semitic. It is not ignorance; it is hatred.

If I’m being honest, I’ve started to avoid left-wing spaces lately. I don’t feel safe wearing a Magen David or having dark eyes and curly hair. I am tired of the left telling me how deeply they care about preventing anti-Semitism only to turn their backs when the swastikas come out.

If I’m ever punched in the face by a Nazi, the world will flock to support me. I’ll get get-well cards and a GoFundMe and support. But when the left turns against me—because of my family, because of my heritage, and because of my faith—nobody bats an eye. As they have so many times before, people turn their backs on the Jews.

People do not speak out.

About Author

Rebecca Zaritsky


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