Recently, there has been a rise in anti-Semitic crimes in our country and the world. Data indicates that anti-Semitism is not only alive and dangerous in the U.S.; it is on the rise.
On Oct. 27, 2018, a gunman stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., and killed 11 people and wounded six. In April 2019, a man shot and killed a worshipper in an attack on a synagogue in Poway, Calif. On Dec. 10, 2019, a man and woman entered a kosher market in Jersey City, where they shot and killed four people, including a police officer. On Dec. 28, 2019, the seventh night of Chanukah, a man entered a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.J., injuring five people with a machete.
The Anti-Defamation League’s most recent audit of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, recorded 1,879 acts in 2018, with a dramatic increase in physical assaults. Included were a wave of anti-Semitic robocalls targeted Jewish schools, Jewish Community Centers and synagogues, and a significant number of incidents occurred in K-12 schools and on college campuses.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, anti-Semitism has a profound impact on the whole of society, undermining democratic values and human rights. Therefore, addressing anti-Semitism through education is an immediate security imperative and a long-term educational investment to promote human rights and global citizenship.
Fortunately, there are some things we can do to combat these trends. During the UNESCO event “The Power of Education to Prevent Racism and Discrimination: The Case of Anti-Semitism” at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the secretary general of the United Nations recognized the important role of education in preventing anti-Semitism and identified four priorities:
- First, “to recognize anti-Semitism as a problem to be addressed internationally”
- Second, “to develop educational programs that address anti-Semitism in a framework of human rights and global citizenship”
- Third, “to build the capacity of educational systems to address anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories and all other forms of hate speech”
- Fourth, an increased investment in social cohesion.
In addition, these activities must involve addressing not only the curriculum but also the needs of learners, staff and the wider community.