Sputnik discussed the issue of racial and religious hatred in the US with Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization.
Sputnik: How serious is the issue of anti-Semitism in the United States?
Abraham Cooper: It’s a growing concern because we are experiencing anti-Semitic incidents but also hate speech from both the far right and the far left and we have on the internet more global threats including extreme anti-Israel incentive and classic anti-Semitism that includes invoking of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and it’s a disconcerting situation.
The incident that you’ve mentioned just now is quite strange, having one Jew, a brilliant but obviously sick individual, actually terrorizing the American Jewish community because of threats made against institutions or little children who are going to kindergarten at the time; but there is no doubt that anti-Semitic hate is something that’s part of our society, the FBI statistics going back to the 1990s, on an annual basis, confirm that in race-based hate crimes in the US the number one targets are always African Americans and religious-based hatred, even though the percentage of Jews in the US population is quite low, on an annual basis have been American Jews that has been a sad fact of life.
Sputnik: What are the main reasons for the increased forms of racism that we're seeing in this day and age, it seems it’s rather unprecedented?
Sputnik: What is being done by the Jewish community? What would you like to be seen done to raise awareness for this very sensitive issue?
It's become a kind of staple, a very unfortunate one, but the statistics prove, and that’s an important thing to take place. I think the growing concern is that you have expressions of such hatred also on campuses in Canada, in the US and on the other side of the Atlantic, and in those cases it's almost always linked to the Middle East situation, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this is a source of growing concern because you have many students coming home and reporting to their families that they’ve experienced these things on campus, that’s a new arena, so I would say to sum up that.
For American Jews it’s the best of times in a sense and the worst of times – we've never had more freedoms, more success within the overall American experience, but the lingering, what’s called history's old mistakes, anti-Semitism continues to morph and manifest from many different aspects of life, and I guess we can say that for the 2000 years of Jews living outside the Holy Land this has become a sad part of life of being one way or the other pointed out as an outsider, and even when you feel you’re most part of the majority of the culture, the anti-Semitic hate crime or the hate speech, or the online activities, are a reminder that if you are Jewish you'll be treated as someone who's different.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.