Opinion | Vigilance Key in Fighting Anti-Semitism

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By Bud Newman

At this time of year, communities around the world commemorate the Shoah with Holocaust Remembrance observances. These events vary in shapes and sizes, but all carry major significance.

Every year, we become further removed from the Holocaust and the memories of the 6 million Jews senselessly murdered with the goal of eradicating every Jew in the most vicious act of anti-Semitism ever. As the population of survivors grows older, this event must never be forgotten. We, as Jews, cannot let their memories dissipate in vain.

Ironically and sadly, we are reminded every day of the disgusting anti-Semitism resonating in the world today. Synagogue shootings, swastikas painted on buildings, rabbis being attacked and Jews of all ages being subjected to countless anti-Semitic acts on a daily basis.

This does not take into account the plethora of incidents occurring on college campuses each and every day. College campuses have become an actual danger to Jewish students. Regardless of location or school size, Jewish college students are subjected to anti-Israel bias, anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish behavior. Most of these stories don’t get told in the mainstream press, and we have to rely on word of mouth from friends and family to learn of these horrific episodes.

Last week, The New York Times ran one of the most disgraceful cartoons I’ve ever seen. That of a blind President Trump walking a dog with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This blatant and disturbing act of willful anti-Semitism should have every one of us upset and outraged. This cartoon was followed up by a second, depicting a blind Netanyahu holding the Ten Commandments and taking a selfie.

The New York Times, its editorial board and those who support it should all be ashamed. The editorial board has since put forth what they consider an apology, but it was a weak attempt to right a terrible wrong.

If we do not continuously and rigorously call out anti-Semitism, it will fester until it rears its ugly head in the form of more synagogues and rabbis being attacked, as well as violent or disturbing acts against everyday Jewish people. In parts of Europe, Jews are encouraged not to wear Stars of David or kippot, nor any article of clothing indicating their Jewishness.

We, as Jews, cannot accept this!

In addition to not putting forth a reasonable apology, we should not expect a change in The New York Times’ anti-Israel news coverage any time soon. As an example, if an Israeli soldier is attacked by a knife-wielding terrorist and the soldier then shoots the terrorist in self-defense, the Times headline reads, “Israeli Army Officer Shoots Palestinian Civilian.” This false narrative continues to misrepresent the situation and readers of this anti-Semitic newspaper have the fake news and not the real facts.

Israel is a wonderful country filled with amazing people doing incredible things. People of all religions, beliefs and ideas work and live together harmoniously and enjoy many advances in modern technology seldom seen across the globe. Israel is the good guy in almost every situation and its citizens are our friends and allies.

Anti-Semitism is real and all too frequent. The end of World War II is only 74 years ago. There are tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors who will tell you this anti-Jewish behavior cannot continue. Anti-Semitism has never gone away and until we stand together and say “no more,” it won’t go away. Anti- any group of people is not acceptable, but Jews have been the target of hatred for far too long. First it was only far-right neo-Nazi white supremacists, and now they are joined by far-left anti-Israel and anti-Semites like Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Regardless of your political stand, anti-Semitism is not OK. And, it is certainly not OK from an institution like The New York Times that fancies itself as a fair and respected journalistic leader. The Jewish people must be exceptionally proactive in our resistance. It’s time to fight back. We must stand tall and we must do so together.

Bud Newman is the immediate past board chairman of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

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