The oldest hatred: anti-Semitism on the rise

Disturbing: Dozens of graves at a 200-year-old Jewish cemetery in Denmark were vandalised this month.

Hatred of Jews is a growing problem in Britain, America and several other countries. This kind of prejudice has a unique history. So, should we treat it differently to other forms of hate?

Anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews) has created many lies. It has caused pogroms and the greatest crime in history: the Holocaust. Now, it seems to be back.

A British politician, Ken Livingstone, was banned from the Labour Party for a year for anti-Semitism. One of President Trump’s assistants used to be a member of a Nazi-supporting group. A Jewish leader said Jews were being attacked in New Zealand. A Jewish centre in Sweden was forced to close.

Some said Livingstone’s punishment was not enough and Trump had not treated hate crimes against Jews seriously enough.

Anti-Semitism has a unique and very long history. For centuries, people have said Jews are greedy or their race makes them inferior. Jews have been driven out of countries around the world.

Now, some of the worst anti-Semitism is among Israel’s opponents. Many conspiracy theories are linked to hatred of Jews.

But other forms of hate are rising too. Hate crimes against Muslims in the USA rose by 67% in 2015. In March 2019, 49 people were killed at two mosques in New Zealand.

In The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg asked why Trump faced “much more pressure” to criticise anti-Semitism than similar forms of violence. So, should we treat anti-Semitism differently to other forms of hatred?

Tackling the problem

Definitely, say some. This very old hatred is aimed at a tiny global minority. The lies behind it are still taught across much of the world. Jews have hardly ever been truly welcome anywhere. And remember: the Nazis tried to kill all of them.

Be careful, others respond. Hate is hate. Someone who attacks a mosque is as evil as someone who attacks a synagogue. Jews have a unique history, but blaming the “other” can be terrible for others too.

You Decide

  1. Does the rise of anti-Semitism worry you?

Activities

  1. Summarise this article in your own words, using no more than five sentences.

Some People Say...

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

James Baldwin (1924-1987), US writer and activist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
There is lots of evidence to suggest that anti-Semitism is getting worse. It exists among many different political movements — though they all have different reasons for hating Jews. Hate crimes against other groups, especially Muslims, have also risen recently. Some say newly popular politicians have allowed this, and old fears are more likely to come out in times of crisis.
What do we not know?
What exactly lies behind the rise in hate crimes, so how we should deal with it.

Word Watch

Lies
For example, the blood libel: the lie that Jews used children’s blood in Passover festivals.
Pogroms
Organised massacres of Jews.
Holocaust
During World War Two, the Nazis tried to kill every Jew. They murdered six million of them.
Israel
The world’s only Jewish state was created in 1948, soon after the Holocaust.
Conspiracy theories
For example, some say Jews caused the 9/11 attacks on USA, or were told about them before they happened. Others say, Jews made up the Holocaust or took part in it. These are all lies.

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