What's on Our Mind 4-9-2021

What's On Our Mind

This week, we commemorated the victims of the Holocaust with Yom HaShoah. Sadly, hate did not end when the death camps were liberated. Jews around the world are still victims of antisemitism. People continue to be persecuted based on their race, religion and sexual orientation. White-supremacy has also gained traction on the political front.

The ADL said 63 percent of American Jews have experienced or witnessed antisemitism over the past five years — an increase from the 53 percent of respondents who expressed the same view in ADL’s survey last year. At the same time, 59 percent surveyed said they felt that Jews were less safe in the U.S. today than they were a decade ago. Nearly half feared a violent Synagogue attack.

The January attack on the Capitol by domestic terrorists was filled with racist, white-supremacist and antisemitic symbols. The attackers were seen carrying swastika flags and wearing shirts with slogans saying: “Camp Auschwitz STAFF.”

Disturbing findings from the Claims Conference reveal a significant number of Millennials and Gen Zs can’t name a single concentration camp or ghetto. Some even believe that Jews caused the Holocaust.

Nearly half of the 22 to 40 year-olds surveyed have seen Holocaust denial or distortion posts on social media. The spread of disinformation is dangerous and fuels the rise in hate. “When truth dies, it is far easier to exploit real and imagined differences between groups, invent scapegoats, demonize innocent people and communities and break the social bonds that unite us all,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Holocaust education is desperately needed to reverse these trends. But that is not enough.

We also need to pay attention to those running for elected office. More than 56,000 voters in a Chicago-area congressional district in 2018 cast votes for an avowed Nazi and Holocaust denier. A GOP candidate in the 2020 Georgia congressional primary posed for photos with a former neo-Nazi leader. 

Rep. Matt Cartwright (R-GA) proudly posted photos of his trip to Adolf Hitler’s German mountain retreat on his Instagram. He said the trip had “been on my bucket list for years. And it did not disappoint.” 

QAnon, a conspiracy theory movement, has become increasingly mainstream. Currently there are several Members of Congress who embrace QAnon views, which engage in the spreading of antisemitic lies. If we are not diligent in electing better candidates, more will arrive in Congress.

During this time that we are commemorating those lost in the Holocaust, we must remember our moral obligation to everyone else who is a victim of hate. 

Nearly 30 states across the country have taken action to introduce, pass and sign anti-transgender bills. The majority of these bills are attempting to exclude transgender athletes from school sports and deny gender-affirming health care to youth.

“In the memory of all those (from the Holocaust) who were lost, and in honor of all those who survived, we must continue to work toward a better, freer, and more just future for all humankind.” President Joe Biden said.

We must use our voices and might to stand up to bigotry in all its forms. At JAC, this begins by supporting candidates whose ideology embraces tolerance, acceptance and dignity for all. 

Hate fills worlds of inaction and silence. Elections matter.