Synagogue hostage crisis is symptomatic of a pandemic of hate


Jake Epstein

Jews remain the most targeted religion in hate crimes according to FBI crime statistics. As reflected in the graph, Anti-Semitic incidents have increased by over 94 percent over the past decade.

Jake Epstein, Content Editor

On Jan. 15, Jewish citizens near the Dallas-Fort Worth area set out for Sabbath services at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. What was supposed to be a day of rest and worship turned into a nightmare for the local Jewish community, as four people were taken hostage, resulting in a ten-hour standoff with the FBI.

Following rescue operations, all four hostages were freed. While the work of law enforcement and the resilience of the victims must be praised, it’s imperative to note that another instance of antisemitic terrorism occurred within the nation’s borders. Such disturbing displays of terror, especially while the victims seek to practice their religion in peace, are unfortunate signs of unsettling times for Jewish Americans.

These times are especially reflected in a poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee in Oct. 2021 entitled the “State of Anti-Semitism in America Report,” which found that approximately one fourth of American Jews had been targets of Antisemitism in the past year. Furthermore, approximately 39 percent of American Jews have altered their behavior out of fear of anti-Semitism.

When thinking of anti-Semitism in the United States, the primary image that comes to mind is the torch-bearing neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville at the 2017 Unite the Right rally. Such appalling images were thought to be catalysts in counteracting religious hate. However, since that contentious hate march, ten attacks, including one failed bomb plot, on Jewish Institutions have occurred.

While these larger scale attacks tend to dominate the national news cycle, Maryland has not been immune to rising levels of Jewish hate. On Jan. 2, 2022, the Loyal White Knights, who brand themselves as a new KKK, distributed anti-Semitic fliers to residents of Dunkirk, MD. Last Hanukkah, a rock was thrown through the window of a Baltimore family’s home, where a menorah was within view. While all Americans were celebrating the nation’s Independence Day, gravestones at a Jewish Cemetery in Dundalk were defaced with swastikas. Such attacks are a small portion of the nine reported anti-Semitic incidents in the last calendar year in the state according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Nine cases may seem a meager number, but any instance of hate targeting someone for their religious affiliation contradicts the ideals which Americans must uphold for the betterment of the nation.

While nearly any social studies course addresses anti-Semitism and its dire consequences, society fails to adequately learn from the mistakes of the past. With hate symbols arising in numerous local school communities, and administrations not properly addressing the severity of their presence, the real issue goes unnoticed.

Antisemitism exists and remains globally prevalent. So long as hateful tropes persist and vengeful people are blinded by their own struggles, the Jewish people will continue to serve as society’s scapegoats, as they’ve done so since the very birth of the religion. The reversal of a 3000-year-old cycle proves incredibly daunting, but if society truly wishes to move forward, a revolution in thoughts and actions must ensue.

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