These were the comments on a radio talk show in 2010 by the man arrested yesterday for killing three people at the Jewish Community Center and a Jewish retirement home in Kansas. He reportedly yelled "Heil Hitler" when he was arrested. He stated in previous interviews that he definitely hated Jews more than African Americans. He was a member and official of the Ku Kluz Klan. He has been in and out of jail on various charges. And he had a gun, and used it to kill people. And, by the way, the teenager and his grandfather who were killed at the Jewish Community Center were church-going Methodists.
I won't get started on my usual rant about guns; there is a larger issue here.
Most people will write this one off as the actions of a kook, weirdo, etc. But that is the wrong thing to do.
Most people don't know that anti-semitism - let's call it Jew-hating - is much more common than they think, even here in the United States.
The number of reported anti-semitic incidents in the United States has been trending downward over the past several years; however, the number of violent anti-semitic incidents has sharply increased.
Anti-semitism in Europe is increasing. According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Human Rights:
Jewish people across the European Union (EU) continue to face insults, discrimination, harassment and even physical violence which, despite concerted efforts by both the EU and its Member States, show no signs of fading into the past. Although many important rights are guaranteed legally, widespread and long-standing prejudice continues to hinder Jewish people’s chances to enjoy these rights in reality.
Anti-semitism in Arab/Muslim countries, including vicious attacks in the press and extremely racist television programming for children and adults, has increased greatly.
Many Jews, including those in the United States, feel that the growing movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS movement), and boycotts of Israeli academics by European and American professional organizations, are anti-semitic at their core, and feed anti-semitism.
President Obama, speaking at the annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast the morning after the Kansas killings, said:
“We have to keep coming together across faiths to combat the ignorance and intolerance, including anti-Semitism, that can lead to hatred and to violence,” the president continued, “because we are all children of God, all made in his image, all worthy of his love and dignity, and we see what happens around the world when this kind of religious-based or tinged violence can rear its ugly head.”
While I appreciate the President's words, I would say it differently, because not everyone is a person of faith, and, in fact, anti-semitism is not based on religion. I am an atheist, but I would be targeted as a Jew because my parents and grandparents were Jews and I identify ethnically as a Jew. The German Nazis and their collaborators didn't use religion as the basis for rounding up and killing Jews; anyone with a Jew in their ancestry was marked as a Jew. I always puzzle over the choices on a survey or application that ask for my ethnic identity; I'm not African American, Asian American, Pacific Island American or any other choice than "Caucasian." I don't see anti-Caucasionism rampant in the world.
Hatred of Jews runs deep through history. It is the norm, not the exception, throughout the existence of the Jewish people. History is filled with anti-Jewish events: pogroms, riots, massacres, confinement in ghettos, and genocidal campaigns as recently as the Nazi attempt of extermination a mere 75 years ago. The Vatican, in 1965, decided that, in fact, the Jewish people should not be collectively held responsible for the killing of Jesus - a mere 1,965 years after his alleged death! (I sure hope I'm not expected to say thank you!) Many prominent people, including the former President of Iran, deny that the holocaust of World War II even happened. It is important - today - to understand this and work to end it.
The killings in Kansas by a known Jew-hater are much more than a seemingly random act by a nut case. This incident is a symptom of a larger issue that most people just don't recognize or want to talk about. It's time we all pay attention, and as the popular saying goes: See something - Say something.