Anti-Semitism is alive and well

Joy Wilkoff, Columnist 

Growing up, I never thought twice about my heritage. I believed that everyone played with dreidels and sat through seemingly interminable Passover Seders.

But, as I grew older, my eyes opened to the harsh reality of the world: Jews have been and continue to be the world’s scapegoat. When times get tough, seemingly everyone can agree that it’s the Jews’ fault.

In the grand scheme of things, nothing has really changed in that regard. Jews were the scapegoats during Biblical times, the Black Plague, World War II and, it appears, still today.

Jewish communities across the nation have been the targets of hate crimes. In recent months, Jewish community centers around the country have received bomb threats. Just a few miles away from our safe Samford bubble, the Levite Jewish Community Center was evacuated on three separate occasions due to a bomb threat.

Words cannot adequately express the grief this brought me.

When I first heard the news, I felt like my heart was in a vise and my stomach was thrust into my throat. How could this happen here, in the land of the free that boasts of its love for all peoples?

We as Americans tend to think that issues like racism, anti-Semitism and sexism were left in the past. Guess what: They weren’t. It pains me to report that they are still alive and well. It seems like whenever we take one step forward, we also take two steps back.

You may think that despite the geographical proximity, this issue still isn’t close to you. Surely it can’t pop the Samford bubble. But Birmingham has always been a place where progress is strongly fought against. During the Civil Rights movement, Birmingham was a center of protest, some peaceful, but many times not. The same stands for marriage and women’s rights. Why then do we expect it to be any different now?

You might ask yourself why you should care. It isn’t happening to you, so it can’t really be that bad, right? Allow me to answer your question with another: What would you do if your privilege was taken away? Would you care then? As gentiles–or outsider of any particular group on the receiving end of hate–you cannot fully understand how heart-wrenching these events are. Just keep in mind that people are suffering. People who want what’s best for themselves and their family. People not all that different from you.

These issues affect your life. If not your family, then your friends are affected. Many people encounter institutional disadvantages and some form of hate every day.

Sometimes it’s a derogatory joke. Sometimes it’s worse. This isn’t new. We’ve been fighting these issues for years, but such long struggles cause us to become numb. It takes something monumental like a bomb threat to make us feel anger at injustice once again.

There is no doubt that the United States is currently divided racially, socioeconomically and politically. It shouldn’t take a bomb threat for us to realize that we need to put an end to this divisiveness. We need to bind the people together, to make this country live up to its name of the United States of America.

Wilkoff is a sophomore English major.

 

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