Friday, March 10, 2017

The writing on the wall: Being a Jew in Trumpland

It started during the presidential campaign with anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish journalists, but since Donald Trump’s election the ripples of hatred have turned into a giant wave. In a special coast-to-coast project, Yedioth Ahronoth presents excerpts demonstrating the extent to which American Jews have become consumed with trepidation and who are beginning to realize that ‘never again’ is a very fragile phrase in the current climate.

Last Monday morning, local television channels in the United States were flooded with footage of small children holding the hands of adults walking next to them and trying to catch up with them. The adults, meanwhile, were trying to get the little ones to walk a bit faster, without making them panic. From North Carolina to Maryland, from Alabama to Rhode Island, thousands of children were evacuated from at least 12 Jewish community centers and schools.

It was the fifth wave in a month and a half of telephone bomb threats against Jewish centers. Only one day earlier, desecrated headstones were discovered in Philadelphia’s Jewish cemetery.

A week earlier, vandalized gravestones were discovered in the St. Louis Jewish cemetery. Several days prior, dozens of Jewish centers were evacuated. A week earlier, swastikas were taped to the front doors of a synagogue in downtown Chicago, and swastikas were scrawled on the windows of a New York City subway train.

The day before that, and a day after, and pretty much every day since the change of administration in the US, America’s Jews have been facing provocations and insults which they never thought they would experience there, in that enlightened democracy.

In the middle of the week, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a new security advisory to workers and visitors of Jewish institutions. This followed 90 bomb threats in a week and a half, including one threat directly against the ADL headquarters in New York, although they all eventually turned out to be false threats.

According to the new advisory, the different institutions must review their evacuation procedures, in case of bomb threats, as well as the security arrangements at the entrances to the buildings.

These troubling phenomena are now a matter of routine, and a direct result of the freedom felt by anti-Semites, racists and other ignorant people to bring their hatred out into the open.

It began during the presidential campaign, when Jewish journalists were the main victims of anti-Semitic harassment, whether on social media or in emails with images of ovens. But since Donald Trump’s election—after gaining the support of neo-Nazi organizations, leaders of the Ku Klux Klan and the new generation of white supremacists—the ripples of anti-Semitism have turned into a big wave.

Under the anti-political correctness guise, real poison has been discharged into the American air. In the meantime, no one is actually trying to stop it, before something really bad happens. The result is that America’s Jews wake up in the morning without knowing where the next insult, in the best-case scenario, or the next physical threat, in the worst-case scenario, will come from.

The following excerpts—some using their full name, some using only their first name for fear of being exposed—describe what the US Jewry is going through right now. This relatively small segment of the population—proud, pluralistic and esteemed—knows its history and is beginning to understand that “never again” is a very fragile phrase these days:

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