Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Why is there silence when Jews and Jewish institutions are attacked?

(JNS) — Given the racial strife in the United States during the past month, the news media appears determined to exploit every possible manifestation with partisan political purpose in mind. Or so it seems.

A recent “news” story that captivated the nation’s headlines focused on the report of a noose found hanging in the garage stall of African-American NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. It was, it appeared on merit, newsworthy. Until it wasn’t.

But the lack of credibility of the story, and the obvious ramifications, continued to be exploited for its obvious political value. It no longer seemed to matter that the noose was not, in fact, an overt racist display — which it was not — but rather a complete misunderstanding of a garage pull-down rope, ostensibly ubiquitous in such settings. But the news media remained undeterred in its mission. That, it seems, should have been worth a story itself.

The Bubba Wallace incident reminded me of an actual noose that was placed in my younger brother’s locker, when he was in high school, in 1981. It began when a small group of his classmates carved a swastika on a picnic table, at a popular gathering place during school breaks, along with the words” “The Vendetta Lives On.”

The message was not to be misunderstood. My brother reported the anti-Semitic students to the school’s dean. The students responded by placing a roped noose in his locker.

The violation was certainly more ominous than the simple break-in of his locker. As a graduate who was still connected to the same school, I approached the senior class president about the matter. He exhibited the courage necessary to speak out in front of a school assembly to condemn the anti-Semitism.

But, with the environment now poisoned, my brother had decided, after seeing the noose, to not return to the school, opting instead to complete his coursework the following year in Israel. The school, to its credit —knowing that my brother was not returning — denied those perpetrators the right to return for their senior year.

Was justice served? Was the lesson learned? We can only hope. The jury will always be out.

In the year 2018, the FBI records that Jews were 2.7 times more likely than blacks, and 2.2 times more likely than Muslims, to be hate-crime victims.

All hatred should be condemned, but there appears to be an exception for hate crimes against Jews. The following Jewish places were attacked by rioters in Los Angeles: Congregation Beth El, Congregation Beth Israel, Tifereth Avi, Morasha Educational Center, Shaarei Tefillah Synagogue, Kehilas Yaakov Congregation, Baba Sale Congregation, Shalhevet High School, Mensch Bakery and Kitchen, Ariel Glatt Kosher Market, Syd’s Pharmacy and Kosher Vitamins.

Anti-Semitic slurs like “F*** Israel” were written on some of the buildings, and some rioters shouted anti-Semitic comments, as well, while attacking the businesses.

Is there any doubt that this would have been front-page news had the perpetrators been white supremacists, instead of leftist radical anti-Semites and anarchists?

The rioters even attacked the statue of the great Swedish special envoy Raoul Wallenberg, who saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives during the Holocaust. One should be outraged at the death of George Floyd, but condemning that action by displaying hatred toward Jews should be universally and publicly condemned.

Why is there silence when Jews and Jewish institutions are attacked? 6,000,000 Jews died in WWII, and before they were murdered, the precursor was attacks on Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues and silence in response to those attacks.

Bret Stephens wrote a few months ago about the silence of his current employer, The New York Times, during the Holocaust and its abdication of its journalistic responsibilities at that time. Unfortunately, we have now recently seen a repetition of such an immoral silence by the media in regard to these attacks on Jewish institutions in Los Angeles.

The CHOP area of Seattle, and the devastating results of an area without law enforcement, shows the great danger of calls to defund the police. The Jewish community greatly values the police and the protection it provides that sadly was lacking while its stores and synagogues were being attacked during rioting in Los Angeles. The Jewish community desires, if anything, a stronger police and security presence due to anti-Semitic attacks like the ones in Los Angeles.

Martin Luther King Jr. practiced non-violence. As a result, racially discriminatory laws were changed, and there is a federal holiday in his name and honor.

King also stridently opposed anti-Semitism and was a strong supporter of Israel. He knew that you cannot fight bigotry with bigotry.

Jews are the biggest sufferers of hate-filled attacks in America today. The student senate president at Florida State University and senior class president of Pomona College have been able to keep their positions, despite their expressing or sharing anti-Semitic comments, because hatred of Jews is the one hatred that is accepted on college campuses.

The solution to anti-Semitism is to shine a light on those engaging in it, as my brother did in high school, but there have to be ramifications to those engaging in it.

In our situation, the high school eventually took proper action against those students, to let it be known that there were strong ramifications for displaying such hatred. If no action is taken against such hatred, as appears to have occurred in Los Angeles — and is occurring on the campuses of FSU and Pomona — then hatred grows and the danger to Jews grows, as well.

We await action against the rioters in Los Angeles who perpetrated the anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish religious institutions and businesses, and the removal of the student senate president at FSU and the senior class president of Pomona.

Actions speak louder than words. You cannot say you oppose anti-Semitism without taking steps against anti-Semites.

Farley Weiss is president of the National Council of Young Israel. He is an intellectual property attorney for the law firm of Weiss & Moy.


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