Buchaniec: Anti-Semitism is not returning; it never went away

Catherine Buchaniec, Columnist

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This story is not a new one; it is one ingrained in humanity’s history, the United States’s history.

From the ancient empires of Babylonia, Greece and Rome to the Middle Ages, from the Russian Empire during the nineteenth century to Nazi Germany, from the Porte de Vincennes market in 2015 to Pittsburgh; for millennia, the Jewish faith has faced religious intolerance and political oppression.

After World War II, Europe and the world at large vowed to never forget the horror of the Holocaust, that never again will such a tragedy take place. In 2018, the United States is not remembering that hate. We forgot our vow.

In recent years, anti-Semitism was an affair the United States gave the side-eye to — a European problem, not an American one. France was the one with the mass exodus of the world’s fourth-largest Jewish population to Israel due to a rise in anti-Semitic terror attacks. The U.K.’s Labour Party was the one facing accusations of anti-Semitism. Germany was the one with a rising number of hate crimes.

For the past decade, many in the United States have existed in a bubble of ignorance when it comes to Jewish discrimination. However, as history has shown, problems have a way of crossing oceans, of seeping into all corners of the globe.

In the wake of the shooting at a synagogue that claimed the lives of 11 people, we need to remember anti-Semitism is prevalent in the United States. The bigotry publicized in recent headlines is not a returning issue — it is a storm that has never gone away. There has been no period of dormancy, no time without persecution, no era lacking intolerance.

Since the 2016 election, anti-Semitism in the United States has manifested itself in Neo-Nazi tweets, attacks on Jewish journalists and the chant of “Jews will not replace us.” Most recently, it is the portrayal of philanthropist George Soros as the world’s puppetmaster.

This rendition of anti-Semitism is the same one that occurred centuries before. During the 19th century, a pamphlet claiming Nathaniel Rothschild profiteered off the Battle of Waterloo sparked the most infamous of conspiracy theories: the Rothschild family controlled the baking industry, the government and the world.

In 2018, George Soros is the new Nathaniel Rothschild.

When President Trump links Soros to the migrant caravan currently traveling to the United States, he is propagating the same anti-Semitic view Rothschild faced: the Jewish people are the “other” responsible for the world’s issues.

In 2018, we continue to blame the “other.” From comments about the economy to this March when a D.C. lawmaker blamed the weather on Jews, whenever there is a problem, the world’s eye, our eye, turns to the Jewish people. They are the scapegoat of history. Right now, in a time of political polarization and the rise of the alt-right, the blame persists.

When remembering the Holocaust, we tend to focus on the violence, the sheer atrocity of actions that occurred. However, the United States needs to remember that words of blame and bigotry lead to action.

This month, Soros had a bomb shipped to his house. Last week, a man walked into a synagogue and shot 11 people. Our words laced with anti-Semitism have consequences.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2017 report, the number of anti-Semitic incidents has increased nearly 60 percent since 2016. From vandalism featuring swastikas to harassment, anti-Semitism in the United States is complex.

However, the most blatant instrument of anti-Semitism is social media. In 2016, people read anti-Semitic tweets 10 billion times. On Instagram, memes featuring the Nazi salute, Nazi propaganda and Holocaust-denying language attract thousands of likes.

As a country, we need to remember that anti-Semitism is not an object of European history — it is ingrained in our reality and is something we can never forget.

I am not Jewish, but my extended family is. My ancestors faced persecution; in 2018, my younger family members should not have to face the same possibility of bigotry.

Catherine Buchaniec is a Medill freshman. She can be contacted at catherinebuchaniec2022@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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