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Antisemitism on the rise following early October attacks in Israel

Clouds cover the sky over the Star of David on top of the 'New Synagogue' in central Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
Clouds cover the sky over the Star of David on top of the 'New Synagogue' in central Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Since the Oct. 7 Oct. 7 in Israel, instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia are rising.

Even before Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel retaliated with strikes that are still ongoing, antisemitic incidents were at an all-time high in the U.S., according to the Anti-Defamation League. And now there’s been a further increase in hate speech.

Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League in New England, says the ADL’s Center on Extremism has tracked at least 168 antisemitic incidents since the attack of Oct. 7. These incidents included verbal insults, school bullying, and graffiti.

Last week, an iconic Kosher deli in New York was vandalized. Steinberg also says hundreds of rallies in the country since Oct. 7 have included antisemitic chants.

“There is nothing wrong with caring about the civil rights and the worthy hopes for self-determination of the Palestinian people,” he says. “And one of the tragedies of this moment is how hideously Hamas’ actions undermined all worthy hopes. But when you see rallies with chants of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ in the context of what we’ve just seen, that’s tantamount to a call for genocide. What would happen to the Jewish population of Israel in such a picture?”

Steinberg says some people have become afraid of wearing symbols of their religion.

“Speaking personally, I wear a kippah, a yarmulke, in public,” he says. “I’m 53 years old and both of my parents have expressed concerns about my safety, and the young people that I work with have heard similar concerns from their parents.”

But Steinberg also points out another change inspired by recent events.

“Some people have gone into the jewelry boxes and taken out their Jewish stars to put them on,” he says. “And this is a time when finding solidarity among the Jewish community and with our allies is so very, very important.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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