NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Anti-Semitism in 2018

Trying to move forward from a tradgedy

In light of the recent attacks on The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh many thoughts are on the country’s mind and hearts lie heavy. Regardless of political affiliation, it should be easy for us to agree that this hate crime was a tragedy that we can only hope will never be repeated. It is unfortunate reality that we must face that while we can hope, mass shootings in American society have become alarmingly more prevalent. Hate crimes and mass shootings are seemingly going hand in hand, but it is the year 2018, how is something like this possible? How is it that anti-Semitism could still be happening in modern American society, have we not put the problems of tragedies like the Holocaust in the past? When 11 Jewish citizens were shot and killed by a hate filled man with a gun, it is apparent that anti-Semitism is not just an idea of yesteryear.

How hard can that be? Saying Nazis are bad?
Barack Obama

In a 2016 study done by Pew Research, the Majority of Israeli Jews said that anti-Semitism is very common (64%) or somewhat common (35%) around the world today. That leaves about 1% who feel that anti-Semitism is not too common. Just 1% of an entire ethnic group feels that they are not discriminated against, not just in America, but in the world. The survey also asked whether they thought anti-Semitism was increasing or decreasing, and 76% responded with saying they believed anti-Semitism was on the rise. This is the sad reality many Jewish people must face even in modern times.

Some people believe that it is today’s political climate that leads to tragedies such as these. Often time politicians will rely on hate filled words against their opponent to gain voters rather than discuss their own policies. President Trump is a scorching topic in any political debate, and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life synagogue had a message for Trump himself, according to CNN saying “Mr. President, hate speech leads to hateful actions. Hate speech leads to what happened in my sanctuary, where seven of my congregants were slaughtered. I witnessed it with my eyes.” Many of Pittsburgh’s citizens protested President Trump and First Lady Melania’s visit to the synagogue after the shooting all together. And in a video found on the New York Times website, Reverend Susan Rothenberg, a Presbyterian minister went viral for screaming at President Trump’s motorcade as it went by saying, “Let the families grieve! This is our neighborhood! You are not welcome here!”

Regardless of political affiliations or leanings we are all human, and should want to protect and care for one another. According to the Boston Globe in a speech in September former president Obama was quoted as saying “We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up, clearly and unequivocally, to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad?” In a country that has already experienced many hardships and landmarks such as the women’s suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement, or even more recent movements that are still dividing the country such as the Me too movement or Black Lives Matter, it is almost implausible for one to think that a hate crime like this could happen. We should have already moved past this, but if we haven’t we should at least take the steps to try to move in a forward direction, not backwards. Many college campuses have Hillel’s which are safe havens for Jewish Students, and there are local synagogues in the area for Jewish community members such as Temple Emanu-El on 514 Main St, Haverhill, which held a Peace Shabbat Service on Friday November 2 in grievance of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. As a country and as a people we can move past this and do better to eradicate anti-Semitism.