Millions Mourn Victims of Holocaust While Anti-Semitic Violence Continues to rise
Today is Yom HaShoah, the solemn day when the Jewish world pauses to remember the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust and to demand “never again.”
And today, two new reports were issued showing anti-Semitic attacks rising in the U.S. and around the world. Meanwhile, right wing politicians fan the flames of anti-Semitism, speaking at white power conferences while trump supporters proudly carry their anti-Semitic banners while thrashing the Capitol.
Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah, the Hebrew for “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day,” is known in the U.S. as Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. The first official commemorations took place in 1951 and the observance of the day was anchored in a law passed by the Knesset in 1959. The annual commemoration is considered a tangible reminder to keep the promise of “Never Again.”
Last year, there were 51 assaults against Jews across N.Y., a new high since the Anti-Defamation League began compiling such data in 1979. There were also incidents of harassment and vandalism.The number of anti-Semitic incidents in New York increased by 24 percent last year and the most common targets were Orthodox Jews, easily identified by their traditional garb.
In 2021, incidents were reported in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The highest number of incidents were in New York (416), New Jersey (370), California (367), Florida (190), Michigan (112) and Texas (112). Combined, these states account for 58 percent of the total incidents.
The most recent hate crimes in the area were in and around Lakewood, which is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities in the United States.
Dion Marsh, 27, of Manchester, was arrested after he allegedly forced a Jewish man out of his car in Lakewood on April 8, then assaulted the man and stole his car. Later that day, Marsh used a different car to intentionally hit another Jewish man, breaking several of his bones. Shortly after that, he went back to the first car and used it to intentionally hit two more Jewish men in Lakewood and nearby Jackson Township, one of whom he also stabbed in the chest with a knife, authorities said. All of the victims wore religious garb and were easily picked out as Jewish.
The number of anti-Semitic incidents around the world also dramatically increased last year, especially in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia, according to a study by Tel Aviv University.
The Anti-Semitism Worldwide Report 2021, by the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Humanities, is based on the analysis of dozens of studies from around the world, as well as information from law enforcement bodies, media and and Jewish organizations.
It says that in 2021 there was “a significant increase in various types of anti-Semitic incidents in most countries with large Jewish populations.”
Among the findings:
In the U.S., which has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes recorded in both New York and Los Angeles were almost twice that of the previous year.
In France, the number of recorded anti-Semitic incidents increased by almost 75 percent compared with 2020.
In Canada, a leading Jewish group reported a 40-year record in anti-Semitic physical violence in one month, August.
In the UK, the number of recorded physical assaults against Jews increased by 78 percent compared with 2020.
In Germany, anti-Semitic incidents recorded by police were up 29 percent compared with 2020, and 49 percent compared with 2019
Australia also experienced a sharp rise in recorded anti-Semitic incidents, with 88 in May alone , the highest monthly total ever.
The Israeli report, in part, blames the increases in violence against Jews on fighting in May 2021 between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. That month, Israel and militants fought an 11-day conflict in which 261 people were killed in Gaza, according to the United Nations, and 14 people were killed in Israel.
The report also calls out “the vast reach of social networks for spreading lies and incitement” and notes that the dark web is the “gravest concern” as it shelters extremists and anti-Semitic content is freely and openly spread. Another factor fueling anti-Jewish crimes is the proliferation of conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the New York area, orthodox Jews have been targeted in the most violent and deadly assaults, including a shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City that killed three people and a knife attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.Y., that injured five.
Many of the incidents in New York have happened in sections of Brooklyn that have been popular with generations of Hasidic families, like Crown Heights and Williamsburg. Jewish pedestrians in the neighborhoods have been assaulted or harassed, women have had hair coverings ripped from their heads and synagogues have been vandalized, said the Anti Defamation League report.
It’s not clear if the ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or because they are simply a more visible target for anti-Semites.
Hasidism is a Jewish religious group that arose as a spiritual revival movement in the territory of contemporary Western Ukraine during the 18th century, and spread rapidly throughout Eastern Europe. Today, most affiliates are in Israel and the United States. Hasidism is noted for its religious and social conservatism and social seclusion. As of 2016, there were more than 130,000 Hasidic households worldwide, about 5 percent of the global Jewish population.
Much of Hasidic dress was historically the clothing of all Eastern European Jews, influenced by the style of Polish–Lithuanian nobility. Hasidic men most commonly wear dark overclothes. On weekdays, they wear a long, black, cloth jacket called a rekel, and on Jewish Holy Days, the bekishe zaydene kapote, a similarly long, black jacket, but of satin fabric and traditionally silk. On the Sabbath, many wear a black silk bekishe that is trimmed with velvet or gold-embroidered.
The long overcoats are considered modest, the shtreimel hat does not contain wool and is supposedly related to shaatnez, a cloth containing both wool and linen, which Jewish law prohibits wearing. Sabbath shoes are laceless in order not to have to tie a knot, a prohibited action. A gartel divides the Hasid’s lower parts from his upper parts, implying modesty and chastity, and for kabbalistic reasons, Hasidim button their clothes right over left. Hasidic men customarily wear black hats during the weekdays. A variety of hats are worn depending on the group: Chabad men often pinch their hats to form a triangle on the top, Satmar men wear an open-crown hat with rounded edges, and Samet (velvet) or biber (beaver) hats are worn by many Galician and Hungarian Hasidic men.
There are many other distinct items of clothing. The gerrer hoyznzokn are long black socks into which the trousers are tucked. Some Hasidic men wear black socks with their breeches on the Sabbath, as opposed to white ones on weekdays.
Following a Biblical commandment not to shave the sides of one’s face (Leviticus 19:27), male members of most Hasidic groups wear long, uncut sidelocks called payot (or peyes). Some Hasidic men shave off the rest of their hair. Most Hasidic boys receive their first haircuts ceremonially at the age of 3 and until then, Hasidic boys have long hair.
Hasidic women wear long, conservative skirts and sleeves past the elbow, as well as covered necklines. They wear stockings to cover their legs and in keeping with Jewish law, married women cover their hair, using either a sheitel (wig), a tichel (headscarf), a shpitzel, a snood, a hat, or a beret.
Hasidic Jews, like many other Orthodox Jews, typically produce large families; the average Hasidic family in the United States has eight children, out of a desire to fulfill the Biblical mandate to “be fruitful and multiply.”
In the United States, Brooklyn has an especially large population, particularly the neighborhoods of Borough Park, Williamsburg and Crown Heights. So does the hamlet of Monsey in upstate New York. In the same region, New Square and Kiryas Joel are rapidly growing all-Hasidic enclaves, one founded by the Skver dynasty and the other by Satmar.
It was only about 18 months ago when then-president trump personally invited Mary Ann Mendoza to be a featured speaker when trump was to be officially nominated as the GOP candidate on the south lawn of the White House. Mendoza never got to speak because her invitation was withdrawn when officials learned that she is an avowed anti-Semite who adheres to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” one of the most craven, discredited and poisonous anti-Semitic tomes in history.
Mendoza was an advisor to the trump re-election campaign whose son died in a drunk driving accident caused by a man who was in the United States illegally. But on the day she was to speak at the convention, Mendoza tweeted to her followers: “Do yourself a favor and read this thread.” The material she was recommending told of alleged plans by the Rothschilds — a German banking family at the center of many fevered anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — to destroy the “goyim,” enslave them and take their property.
Amid the lengthy Twitter diatribe, the author specifically recommended the Protocols, which among other things is known as a popular spreader of anti-Semitic propaganda in 1930s Germany.
Mendoza also was a consultant for the “We Build the Wall” foundation, ostensibly to support fund raising to build trump’s anti-immigrant wall on the southern border. Three men, including former trump advisor Steve Bannon, were indicted in connection with the foundation and two pleaded guilty to defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a border wall scheme.
Another invitee to attend trump’s nomination acceptance speech was then-congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene, who was later elected as a Republican congresswoman from Georgia, has promoted the QAnon cult, which is rooted in deeply anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Greene, also had posted about Rothschild and conspiracies involving billionaire, Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
After she was elected, Greene suggested that the deadly neo-Nazi rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us,” was actually an “inside job” to “further the agenda of the elites.” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., claimed, without proof, that an “Obama sympathizer” had led the far right rally in Charottesville, that Gosar said was funded by Soros.
This past March, Greene and Gosar both spoke at a rally in Florida held by a white supremacist group, the America First Political Action Committee. The group’s leader, Nick Fuentes, cheered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said it was not a bad thing to compare Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler. Greene in her speech railed against “cancel culture” and called Democrats communists.
Greene and Gosar are not alone among their colleagues in making anti-Semitic comments.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted in October 2018 that three Jewish billionaires — Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg, were trying to “buy” the midterms. He posted his tweet a day after Soros received a pipe bomb at his home in New York.
In 2002, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was a Louisiana state representative, when he attended and spoke at a convention of the white supremacist European American Unity and Rights Organization, a group founded by Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, spoke on a Fox Business show about Soros and his opposition to then-president trump.
“George Soros is supposed to be Jewish, but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he’s inflicted on Israel,” Gohmert said.
Gohmert further said “And the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned. It’s the same kind of thing.” He was referring to the debunked anti-Semitic claim that Soros stole property of fellow Jews during World War II.
And then there’s Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla, who happens to be under federal investigation for sex trafficking. In 2016, Gaetz invited Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson to be his guest at the State of the Union. Gaetz also was a popular guest on the “Infowars” show, hosted by Alex Jones, who said, “it’s not that Jews are bad, it’s just they are the head of the Jewish mafia in the United States. They run Uber, they run the health care, they’re going to scam you, they’re going to hurt you.”
Trump has called Gaetz “one of the finest and most talented people in Congress.”
The late, great political satirist and songwriter, Tom Lehrer, wrote about anti-Semitism in his 1965 song , “National Brotherhood Week,” and it is as relevant today as it was 57 years ago. Lehrer introduced the song this way:
“One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week. This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. One of my favorites is National Make-Fun-Of-The-Handicapped Week, which Frank Fontaine and Jerry Lewis are in charge of as you know. During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged. To drive home the message of brotherhood — this year, for example, on the first day of the week, Malcolm X was killed, which gives you an idea of how effective the whole thing is. I’m sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that! Here’s a song about National Brotherhood Week:
“Oh, the white folks
Hate the black folks.
And the black folks,
Hate the white folks
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule.
National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
Lena Horn and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek to cheek,
It’s fun to eulogize the
People you despise
As long you don’t let them in your school.
Oh, the poor folks, hate the rich folks
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks.
It’s American as apple pie.
National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
New Yorkers Love the Puerto Ricans ’cause it’s very chique
Stand up and shake the hand of
Someone you can’t stand
You can tolerate him if you try.
Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants
And the Hindus hate the Muslims
And everybody hates the Jews, but during
National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week it’s
National everyone smile at
One another-hood week, be
Nice to people who are
Inferior to you. it’s only for a week so have no fear
Be grateful that it doesn’t last all year.”