Thursday, November 26, 2009

Is the really anti-Semitism out there?

I often get upset when people look for anti-Semitism in places where it doesn’t exist.

You can be critical of Israel without being anti-Semitic. A joke about the Holocaust or a Rabbi may be in bad taste, but that doesn’t make you anti-Semitic. If your religious belief tells you that all non-believers (including Jews) are Damned, that doesn’t make you an anti-Semite, even if you make a movie about your religious beliefs.

That said, I think that we have to acknowledge that real anti-Semitism exists. Look at the security around Jewish institutions around the world – in many places Synagogues, Jewish schools. and even residential Jewish neighbourhoods and  have armed guards, security cameras, and a whole array of other security measures.

In many parts of the World, law enforcement agencies recommend against wearing a Kipa in public or any other visible signs of being Jewish.

There are no other religious groups that have this type of security. Mosques, Hindu temples, or Catholic churches do not require the type of security that we have around Jewish organizations.

But maybe we Jews are overly cautious, maybe the centuries of persecution, culminating in the Holocaust have made us paranoid.

This week the world is marking the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. It is important to remember that the only specific target in the Mumbai attacks that was selected during those attacks because of the type of location (as opposed to the number of people likely to be there) was the Chabad House.

And this has nothing to do with the “plight of the Palestinians” or “Israeli Atrocities”, it wasn’t an Israeli target that was selected, it was a Jewish Religious target, with no official links to Israel.

But what about hatred of other religious minorities? We are constantly hearing about “Islama-phobia”, especially since 9-11 when there was allegedly a lot of hatred expressed towards Islam.

Well the statistics don’t seem to show that. According to the recently published 2008 FBI Hate Crime Statics last year in the United States (arguably one of the safest countries to be visibly Jewish, outside of Israel) there were 1519 Hate Crimes based on Religion. 1013 of those incidents targeted Jews. I.e, two thirds of all religious motivated Hate Crimes were against Jews. (I’d be curious to know how many of those incidents were carried out by Muslims, but I digress…)

By contrast, there were 105 anti-Islam incidents reported. Sounds like “Islama-phobia” is not as serious as some people would have us believe.

There were more reported Hate Crimes against Jews than there were against gays, or all other religious groups together. The only group which was the victim of a higher number of Hate Crimes was the Black community (2876 reported incidents). Which is terrible, but remember that there are over 40 Million Blacks in the US, i.e., a community 6 times greater than the Jewish community experienced less than 3 times the number of reported incidents.

Clearly all Hate crime should be eliminated, but it looks like the Jewish community is not necessarily paranoid if it argued that Jews have been singularly targeted as victims.

Lets hope and pray that the 2009 statistics show a decrease of hate crimes against all minorities, but just in case, maybe Jews outside of Israel should get in touch with their local Aliya Shaliach.

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