A message from David Young
President, Temple Beth Am
Recent antisemitic incidents have had the Jewish community on edge. As Vlad Khayakin, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s antisemitism programs, has noted, hostility against the Jewish people tends to gain ground during times of uncertainty, be that war, economic depression or a pandemic. Some people will turn to antisemitism as “an answer for why things are going wrong in the world.”
As I write this in late October, this weekend’s activities are just the latest in an alarming upward trend in extremist-related incidence. Just this past weekend, the following incidents occurred right here in Florida:
- Goyim Defense League leader Jon Minadeo, Jr. joined the neo-Nazi NatSoc Florida group in Jacksonville at the UF/UGA football game to troll the Jewish community with antisemitic laser projections and banners claiming, “Kanye was right about the Jews.”
- A dozen individuals associated with the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Movement protested a canceled LGBTQ+ event in Orlando.
- Banners reading “Forget Ukraine, Nuke Israel” and “End Jewish Supremacy in America” were hung over Florida highways.
- Signs in a community in Weston were vandalized with the n-word, antisemitic language and swastikas.
The ADL has been working around the clock with campus officials and Jewish campus organizations, law enforcement leaders and others to identify perpetrators and urge community leaders to condemn those hateful acts. This weekend’s activities are just the latest in an alarming upward trend in extremist-related incidents. In Florida, antisemitic hate crimes have risen 300% in the last 10 years. For more information, please read the ADL’s recently-released report, Hate in the Sunshine State, which details the rise of extremism and antisemitism in Florida from 2020–2022.
We must not allow antisemitic hate to become normalized. We must continue to help communities across the country, educating lawmakers and advocating for stronger protections from incidents of antisemitism. We must speak out against antisemitic rhetoric, exposing it when it happens. Lately, social media has shown
to be a tremendous force in spreading destructive antisemitic messaging. Let’s continue not only to monitor social media but to use our voices to speak out against it. Most importantly, we must partner with Jewish communities and allies around the world. We need strength, support, and resources in this global fight against antisemitism.
In the meantime, what else can we do? We can join together and keep our community strong and cohesive. Participate in Mitzvah Day on February 26, 2023, and do your part to spread some goodness and light to those who need it. Join our Tikkun Olam committee or become active in Sisterhood or Brotherhood. Find ways to add your presence, voice and strength to our community.
The old A.I.D.S. rallying point was “silence = death.” We could learn a thing or two from that message. We need to call out and hold accountable those who espouse antisemitic rhetoric. Each and every one of us can play an important role, should we choose to do so. Simply sitting in our comfortable homes with our heads in the sand will not defeat the problem.
I want to wish everyone a healthy and happy Chanukah and New Year. Let’s pray that the miracle of the season will permeate throughout the year and that we can live in an understanding world where there will be no more hate/intolerance.