Antisemitism is being normalized, and it’s coming from all sides. We cannot let it stand.
The Anti-Defamation League found that Antisemitic incidents, ranging from harassment to vandalism to assault, increased 75 per cent over the past month.
A CNN contributor recently proclaimed that the world needs another Hitler. Thankfully, CNN dropped him. In one week alone in May, though, variations of the phrase “Hitler was right” were tweeted more than 17,000 times. In Canada, the United States, and around the world, we’ve seen a significant uptick in attacks on Jews walking down the street, dining at restaurants, and worshipping at their synagogues.
Last November, 74 million Americans voted for Donald Trump, a history-challenged president who lauded the “very fine people” wielding torches, wearing swastikas and chanting “Jews will not replace us”. In October, 2018, a white supremacist killed 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest Antisemitic attack in U.S. history.
We know where this hatred leads, and it must be stopped in its tracks. That is why we at the BlackNorth Initiative, a Toronto-based organization committed to the removal of anti-Black systemic barriers, are standing with our Jewish neighbors and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights to call for a complete rejection of Antisemitism and the vilification, subtle or overt, of any group of people.
If your misguided reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement was to say all lives matter, then here is your chance to follow through productively. You can step up and prove what you say that all lives matter.
If your BLM reaction against systemic racism was “it’s about time” – then it’s equally your duty to ensure other members of our society are not marginalized and diminished. We cannot allow one branch of hatred replace another.
Just as we must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and condemn the despicable crime in London, Ontario on June 6 when a 20-year-old filled with hate drove a pickup truck into a Muslim family standing on the sidewalk, killing four family members and leaving a young boy orphaned.
The answer to the us-versus-them mindset is not to replace the “us” and the “them” in the equation. It is to reject the idea that there is anything wrong with those who are other than us.
In North America, it’s taken many hundreds of years and incalculable suffering and loss for the Black community to begin to change that narrative. It will take many more years of dedicated hard work to hopefully one day eliminate the injustices of systemic racism, but we can accelerate the change by collaborating in common cause with partners like the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights to stand with the Black community.
Similarly, the Jewish Community needs allies to stand with it.
We need education and social media campaigns that correct pervasive misinformation. A survey last year in the U.S. found that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of adults over age 40 did not know that six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. One in ten said they had never heard of the state-sponsored mass persecution and murder of millions of people under the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
Hate crimes must be identified and prosecuted. Microaggressions must be called out and rejected. As People of Color rightly assert, silence is a form of complicity.
People of Color rightly expect Jews, who know vilification all too well, and all right-thinking people to demand economic, social and police reforms that will create opportunities, equity and fairness.
Earlier this year, the BlackNorth Initiative and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights came together to unite in our shared cause to combat anti-Black racism and Antisemitism in Canada. We are planning a follow-up event later this month to take this solidarity stance further. We recently launched a joint initiative to reform police misconduct and brutality.
We recognize the importance of our two communities, long the targets of domestic and global systemic racism, to unite and eliminate the pervasive injustices Black Canadians and People of Color must endure, and to combat Antisemitism, the oldest and most enduring of hatreds.
Together we call on all business leaders, all faith-based and community leaders, all elected officials, all Canadians and all citizens of the world, to commit to the elimination of Antisemitism, anti-Black racism, and all forms of racism, intolerance and discrimination.
We must stand together with anyone subject to hatred as “the other”, and push forward to create a society of mutual respect. Anything less maintains the failed, divisive and hateful status quo that has limited and diminished us all. As long as any one group is pushed to the margins, we are all endangered and diminished.