Jews have been tweeting about their experiences with anti-Semitism using the hashtag #FirstAntiSemiticExperience.
Their stories are harrowing:
Rabbi Zvi Solomons serves the Jewish Community of Berkshire, an Orthodox community in the English town of Reading, barely half an hour train ride west of London. Responding to an historic high of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK — as well as to the very public accusations of anti-Semitism in the British Labour party, particularly from leader Jeremy Corbyn — Solomons asked Jews to share their earliest memories of enduring slurs and violence.
The answers are both painfully varied and painfully overlapping: many report experiencing violence, discrimination from teachers, slurs from childhood friends, Holocaust denial, approval of the Holocaust and taunts by Evangelical Christians. Of the growing hundreds of responses, the preponderance are from British Jews (helped by the fact that Solomon is British, working at a British congregation) with American, Canadian, and other European Jews chiming in. A surprising number mention violence. Many come from younger Jews.
Here’s a small sample of tweets:
My #FirstAntisemiticExperience was at age 13 being chased by a group of boys shouting “get the Jews” as me and a friend left our local youth club. Luckily, I only lived across the road and was a good runner. �
— lindi (@Lyndagee49) January 7, 2019
My #FirstAntisemiticExperience was in high school. I was reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel and a boy told me that Wiesel made up the whole thing and that the Holocaust didn’t happen.
That same boy would go on to nominate me for treasurer of NHS because “Jews are good with money.” https://t.co/TXfovZuC60
— samantha (@mantha_shapes) January 7, 2019
My #FirstAntisemiticExperience was having pennies thrown at me in class, aged 8, followed by a swastika carved on my desk. A few days later I was beaten mercilessly by a gang of six boys who then dumped me in a rubbish bin to simulate putting me in an oven. https://t.co/hhWWO2h3k1— Adam Ma'anit (@adammaanit) January 7, 2019
My first college roommate asked me where my horns were, on learning I was Jewish. Told him I file them down so they don’t poke through baseball caps – he spent the semester looking for where I kept my file. #FirstAntisemiticExperience
— (((יונתן קסר))) (@YonatanMatanyah) January 7, 2019
Age 7 on a Sunday at an ice skating rink…pennies thrown, I didn't even understand it til years later
— Darren Glick (@DarrenGlick) January 7, 2019
My #FirstAntisemiticExperience was at 5ish in my parents' car involved in a minor accident. The PC came over to my parents noting tat the other driver was called Cohen & beware he would try to do them on the insurance as he was a Yid. My parents kept quiet; Mum cried afterwards.
— Joanne Bell (@jobellerina) January 7, 2019
Since the election of Donald Trump, hate crimes have been on the rise, with more bigots feeling empowered to act on their beliefs. The best way to combat hate is to speak up if you witness it; let people around you know that that sort of behavior is unacceptable.