By Amy Zewe—
With Chanukah having just finished eight days of celebration, Christmas Eve just one day way, a new year about to begin, and the world optimistic as COVID-19 Vaccines are rolling out for distribution. One would think some level of good will and cheer would manifest in every corner of society. But, the enemy seems to deploy minions to the most precious and sacred places. And college campuses, the alleged bastions of critical thinking, thought development, debate, tolerance and open-mindedness, have witnessed a rash of antisemitic hate on display.
According to The Jewish Telegraph Agency, several acts of vandalism in the US recently occurred including Dartmouth College’s Menorah at the Chabad Center. It was shot with a pellet gun damaging seven of the nine candles. It was discovered as the seventh night was in preparation. The attack is an obvious targeting of Jews because the nearby Christmas displays were untouched and unharmed. This is the first time in anyone’s memory at Dartmouth that an act like this occurred on campus. Of the approximately 4000 students on campus, about 400 are Jewish. That said, in a letter to the school community, Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon called the vandalism “an affront to all.” He went on, “To the Jewish members of our community, at Dartmouth and beyond, we stand with you in anger and sadness at this despicable act, which is much more than vandalism or a prank, for it seeks to diminish the rich culture and history of the Jewish people.”
Despite the vandalism, Rabbi Moshe Gray of Dartmouth, went on with nights seven and eight using actual flames because the electric lights were damaged. He also remained in good spirits and he was heartened by the support he and his community received. “This is what we do in Chabad,” he said. “We’ve dedicated our lives to spreading Judaism and spreading kindness. Next year, we’ll probably get a bigger menorah.”
Other attacks recently within US include at a Chabad menorah lighting in Lexington, Kentucky, home of UK, someone shouting anti-Semitic slurs from a car ran over a man’s leg. The website of a Long Island Jewish high school was hacked and defaced by a neo-Nazi group. A menorah was in California was also vandalized.
In other news of antisemitism on display, the most recent first runner up in the Miss France 2021 competition, April Benayoun, has been crowned and when she disclosed to a judge that her father is Israeli. The young and quite accomplished woman received a social media bombardment of antisemitic attacks. I have to admit that I am glad to see that CBS news, ABC news the BBC and even Forbes covered the story, at least on their websites. The international community and leadership in France rallied to her defense and LICRA, the International League against Racism and Antisemitism, announced Saturday that it is taking legal action against multiple individuals who sent the messages. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said law enforcement is already “on the case,” which he called “shocking” and “will not go answered.” Not all victims of antisemitism have this level of support, and while we are thrilled April Benayoun may see some justice, I’d like you all to remember most Jews and Israeli’s are not so fortunate. Social Media sites often let antisemitic rhetoric through to their platforms while simultaneously blocking organizations trying to pose important news and criticism of such kinds of hate.
Shavua Tov and have a great week.