What to do when anti-Semitism surges in America

Recently, there has been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents reported nationally, according to the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and it is manifesting itself in many different ways.

We have seen increases in Swastika graffiti, online harassment, and issues at schools with students excluding others based on their faith or national origin.

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently sued a white supremacist in Montana for encouraging an online campaign of harassment against Jewish residents of Whitefish. This is a landmark case, marking one of the first times someone has faced legal action because of online hate-filled harassment, and it opens the door for further litigation against online attacks.

Anti-Semitism is a very old story, but one that keeps repeating itself. Fortunately, we have several weapons with which to fight it.

One, of course, is awareness. We must always be vigilant and make sure that once we see something, we report it. These incidents must be investigated, and the perpetrators punished.

Another weapon is unity. One of Louisville’s many wonderful attributes is its compassionate people. They will always come together to confront hate.

Two years ago, our Jewish community (and many others) responded overwhelmingly when a local mosque was defaced. A month ago, the city again showed its positive colors when The J received a harassing phone call and bomb threat. A positive response can turn something ugly into something beautiful.

Finally, of course, we must educate, particularly when an incident happens in the schools. These are teachable moments, and we must encourage that. In April, we commemorate the Holocaust, vowing on behalf of the victims that it will never happen again. Part of that is through study, hearing witness testimony, going to a Holocaust memorial or museum (or some landmark to another crime against humanity), and meeting with people from different ethnic groups.

Our Jewish Community Relations Council deals with issues and incidents like this often, please alert me when something occurs.

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This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, a historic and formative event in the history of the State of Israel.

Out of this miraculously brief war, Israel increased the territory under its control three fold. Saved from a legitimate existential threat, the Jewish state suddenly found itself in direct control of Palestinian lives, an issue that obviously impacts the country today.

Also, for the first time in 19 years, Jews had access to its holy sites in Jerusalem and for the first time in 1,900 years, Jews had sovereignty over the Temple mount.

A lot of good came out of those six days and a lot of difficulty as well. Over the next several weeks we will commemorate the Six-Day War with community briefings, op-eds, and a historical timeline of events. I look forward to sharing these programs with our community.

(Matt Goldberg is director of the Jewish Community Relations Council

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