Antisemitism on American Soil


Morgan Fuerstenberg Graphic

When people think of antisemitism, they often think of concentration camps, gas chambers or Anne Frank hiding in an attic. Antisemitism has for many people become a dark stain on history that the world has moved past; however, antisemitism is still extremely prevalent, even in America. 

The very first concentration camp was opened in Dachau, Germany on March 22, 1933. By May 9, 1945, the last standing concentration camp in Germany was liberated. In those 12 years, 1 month, 2 weeks and 4 days, over 6 million Jewish people were murdered, with over 11 million others held in captivity. 

After the events of World War II and the Holocaust, a spotlight was put on the antisemitic rhetoric used in Nazi Germany which led to one of the most horrific genocides in the contemporary world. 

Rhetoric and propaganda used by the Nazi party during World War II can be generalized to a few key points. One was claiming Jews were “an inferior race,” so Germans who married and had children with Jewish people were weakening Germany.

Another point, as Nazis tried to convince the German populous, was that Jews were “greedy” and “money-hungry” due to a surge in Jewish-owned businesses and banks in the decades prior. The goal of the Nazi party was to isolate and dehumanize Jewish people so they could facilitate mass incarceration and genocide of Jews. 

The misinformation and propaganda spread by the Nazi party are still affecting the lives of Jewish people today, even in places like America. 

Post-World War II, antisemitism had declined in the United States. However, in the past decade, the use of antisemitic rhetoric in America has skyrocketed. 

In August 2017, a group called “Unite the Right” held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The protesters held signs and chanted, “Jews will not replace us!” due to the belief of The Great Replacement Theory which stems from the unfounded belief that Jewish people are trying to replace all the white people in America. 

In October 2019, members of a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA were victims of gun violence in which 11 Jewish people were shot and killed by a gunman, fueled by the online conspiracy that Jews were the reason so many migrant caravans were coming into America. 

According to a study done by the FBI, Jewish people make up 54.9% of all religious-based hate crimes. As recent as 2021, law enforcement has monitored an extreme increase in attacks in prominent Jewish areas, such as Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

A nation that was founded on the core values of religious freedom should be horrified by the rising rates in religious based hate crimes. However, antisemitic rhetoric is so ingrained in the everyday lives of Americans that people either do not care, or they do not realize the effect that it has. 

America is now a place where middle schoolers joke about how people’s grandparents should have been gassed. Jokes about “greedy Jews” are now an everyday occurrence in social media forums. The use of antisemitic rhetoric has become so commonplace that many people do not immediately identify it when they see it. 

It is a dangerous and deadly rhetoric that has already impacted the lives of so many Jewish Americans.