History is flashing warnings to the world.
Outbursts of antisemitism have often been harbingers of societies in deep trouble and omens that extremism and violence are imminent.
So the wave of global hatred directed against Jews – intensified by Israel’s indiscriminate response in Gaza to horrific Hamas terrorist murders of Israeli civilians on October 7 – should not just be seen as a reaction to the Middle East yet again slumping into war.
Recent antisemitism is also a reflection of destructive forces tearing at American and western European societies, where stability and democracy are already under pressure.
The Hamas attacks – a pogrom against Jews that killed 1,400, mostly civilians – have initiated a sequence of events that have left Jewish people around the world feeling threatened. And now that the Israeli government has sought retribution through air strikes and operations in Gaza targeting Hamas, the scenes of carnage in Palestinian communities threaten to further drain public sympathy for Israel abroad and, in some cases, contribute to an atmosphere that risks worsening harassment of Jewish people.
In the United States there is a climate of growing fear.
Jewish day schools have canceled classes. Synagogues have been locked. Social media has pulsated with hatred against Jews, leaving a community that can never escape its historic trauma yet again wondering where and when it can ever be safe.
Rising hate is tangible. The idea that Jewish Americans studying at Cornell University could so fear for their lives on their Ivy League campus in rural New York that they couldn’t even eat together in 2023 seems almost impossible to believe. Yet it’s the case after death threats were posted online. Tensions were already high after a Cornell professor said he was initially “exhilarated” over the Hamas attacks at a pro-Palestinian event because the group had changed the balance of power. He later apologized for his choice of words. Police Monday stepped up patrols and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, traveled to campus to vow that “we will not tolerate threats, or hatred or antisemitism.” But a feeling of fear pervades Cornell, said Molly Goldstein, co-president of the Cornell Center for Jewish Living. “Jewish students on campus right now are unbelievably terrified for their lives,” she told CNN. “I never would have expected this to happen on my university campus.” [Continue reading…]