There has been a recent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes across America. Jewish community centers and synagogues have been facing an onslaught of bomb threats and last week a Jewish cemetery in St Louis was vandalized. The New York Police Department (NYPD) reports that they have seen anti-Semitic hate crimes more than double this year, and outstrip every other category of hate crime by at least four-fold.
In this climate of fear and hatred comes another attack: between 100 and 500 Jewish graves were desecrated in Philadelphia on Sunday. This is a clear attempt to degrade American Jews and assault their rights to dignity and peaceful coexistence with other religious groups in America.
There is another religious group in America that is also facing a barrage of hatred and vilification – Muslims. Philadelphia Muslims arrived at the cemetery just three hours after the news broke to restore headstones that had been overturned and damaged. In the City of Brotherly Love sectarian hatred was met with interfaith solidarity, tolerance, and love.
— Muhammed A. Chaudhry (@EducationIQ) February 26, 2017
— Ahmadiyya Press USA (@AhmadiyyaUSA) February 26, 2017
Earlier this week Rick Santorum, a former Republican candidate for president, went on CNN to blame Muslims for the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes, specifically referring to the cemetery vandalism in St Louis. In actuality, in St Louis, as well as in Philadelphia, Muslims came to the aid of their suffering Jewish neighbors. St Louis Muslims raised over $100,000 to restore the cemetery.
The NYPD has made an unprecedented statement blaming the election of Donald Trump for the wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes. Trump has been virtually silent on the constant threat American Jews are now facing. Despite having a Jewish daughter and son-in-law, Trump placates his white supremacist backers by ignoring anti-Semitic hate crimes and not even mentioning Jews in his Holocaust remembrance statement.
The president’s silence about the growing anti-Semitism is coupled with his vocal demonization of Muslims. From falsely accusing American Muslims of tolerating violent extremism to suggesting a Muslim registry to actually implementing his infamous Muslim-ban, Trump is working tirelessly to instill anti-Islamic hatred in the American psyche.
Jews and Muslims alike know what it is to publicly scapegoated and attacked on the basis of their faith. We are heartened to see marginalized communities joining together to take a stand against the hatred gripping our nation. But it is not enough to smile at interfaith solidarity and move on. We need to fight hate from the White House to our own neighborhoods in the name of tolerance and freedom of religion.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.