If the goal of terrorism is to make people live in fear, the aftermath of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania finds that the attacker has contributed to feeling of dread even beyond the obvious horrors: One year after the mass shooting, many American Jews feel unsafe displaying symbols of their Jewishness, including yarmulkes and Star of David jewelry.
It’s not just the shooting. It’s a general feeling of anti-Semitism that has risen during the Trump era, the kind that has also appeared at White Nationalist rallies where participants yell “Jews will not replace us.”
A study released by the American Jewish Committee this week found that nearly 1 in 3 American Jews fears wearing something that might identify their Judaism. 84% of respondents said anti-Semitism has increased over the past five years.
“It’s been a rough year, and it’s been an eye-opening and awakening year,” said David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee. “Perhaps there was a time when some Jewish institutions … felt somehow more or less insulated from [anti-Semitic attacks]. The fact that the attacks took place in Pittsburgh and Poway triggered a feeling that we’re all at risk everywhere, equally — it can happen anywhere.”
Under another president, this would be a cause for concern. Instead, this administration has exacerbated the problem even when symbolic gestures were well within reach. Even Vice President Mike Pence had a Messianic Jew lead a prayer to honor the Tree of Life victims at a campaign rally. There’s also the fervent evangelical support for Israel, which is layered with anti-Jewish sentiment. They don’t care about Israel for the sake of the Jews — they just want to get all the Jews there ASAP in order to hasten the Second Coming. At which point, the Jews will be sent to hell.
The fear is that things will get worse before they ever get better. For a group of people who can’t stop talking about “religious freedom,” the Republicans in power refuse to take steps that would allow people of non-Christian faiths to feel free.
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