August 23, 2022

As someone who constantly thinks about the safety and security of our community and stays informed of the current trends and issues that are impacting the Jewish world today; I was especially intrigued to learn last week that Dana Bash, CNN Anchor, and Chief Political Correspondent, had spent a few months researching, interviewing, and creating Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America, a special report that aired this past Sunday. Having had a chance to see it, I strongly encourage everyone to watch it and urge others to do the same.


As you will see, Bash, who is Jewish and recently penned an opinion piece about her 10-year-old son wanting to wear a Star of David necklace, focused on some of the root causes of the significant increase over the years. And she also focused attention on the various ways this current epidemic of antisemitism is being carried out. The special featured interviews with the CEOs of Secure Community Network (Michael Masters) and the ADL (Jonathan Greenblatt), the Deputy Director of the FBI (Paul Abbate), and recently US Senate-approved Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt. And what I found unique about this special was that it was not targeted at the Jewish community; rather, it was meant to bring this issue into mainstream society.


The way the rise in hatred toward Jews was conveyed during the special was clearly articulated in comments made by Lipstadt and Greenblatt. Lipstadt shared that antisemitism "is a plague… you've got to understand how little things grow into bigger things and how people are taught to hate." And Greenblatt shared that "Antisemitism is often described as the canary in the coal mine. It is an indication of a kind of rot that eventually consumes everything."


As I watched this special, many thoughts and ideas started to come to mind, specifically how many different "tentacles" of antisemitism exist today and that this issue is like an iceberg. In the last few years, although antisemitism has been considered the oldest form of hatred, this new form of antisemitism is like an iceberg that has only begun to surface. We can only see the instances that are presenting themselves now like the physical attacks and threats, the targeting as scapegoats, the online hatred… the list goes on and on. And yet, like an iceberg, we don't know how deep it goes and how it continues to permeate into people's thoughts and what future actions towards Jews may arise. It is pervasive and will have far-reaching implications well beyond this point in time. It is why Greenblatt expressed concern that, in many ways, "antisemitism has become normalized."


What you may find strange is that I felt a sense of pride while I watched the special. I realized how important and impactful it was for CNN to raise awareness of this hatred to mainstream society. And I truly appreciated that, unlike other reports that just report on the facts of a situation or issue, this report concluded with some ways individual people could help stop the hatred and the violence. Bash and CNN were using their platform to raise awareness of this issue and show mainstream society how important understanding, recognition, condemnation, and action are to combat any form of hatred, including antisemitism. And what can happen if this hatred goes unchecked.


Do I believe that antisemitism will stop now that this special has aired? Of course not. But, am I hopeful that by opening more people's eyes to what antisemitism is and how it has spread into various aspects of everyday life, it may lessen? Absolutely.


Let me know what you think.


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