Jewish Texans see surge in antisemitism as a precursor to fascism

By | November 29, 2022

The Texas Tribune reports:

As other kids in Austin recovered from trick-or-treating on Halloween last year, Sarah Adelman worried about white supremacists, her mom and their synagogue. After a series of antisemitic incidents around Central Texas, someone set fire to Congregation Beth Israel, where Sarah’s mother, Lori, is a leader.

“It made me sad and really scared,” 10-year-old Sarah said last week. “It made me nervous for my mom.”

The arson was part of an ongoing wave of antisemitic incidents that grew last year to its highest number in four decades. It came three years after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and was followed months later by a hostage situation at a North Texas synagogue. In 2021, the Anti-Defamation League tracked 2,717 anti-Jewish incidents nationwide— a 34% increase since 2020 and the highest number since the group began tracking antisemitism in 1979. In Texas, the ADL recorded 112 antisemitic incidents in 2021 — almost triple since 2020 — and both the state and nation are on pace to eclipse those records this year.

“It’s been one hit after another,” Adelman said.

Yet an even deeper, darker worry compounds those concerns in a community acutely aware of how antisemitism, disinformation and conspiracy theories normalize the kind of hate speech and violent incidents that foment persecution — and can escalate to genocide.

For years, extremism experts and historians have sounded alarms about rising antisemitism and what they say are clear warning signs of emerging fascism and extremist violence. Their warnings have only grown more dire as influential American politicians, media personalities and celebrities routinely amplify antisemitic conspiracies that have historically led to the killing of Jews.

“This is part and parcel of a broader resurgence of white supremacy,” said David Michael Smith, a former college professor and longtime anti-fascist activist in Texas. [Continue reading…]

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