Anti-Semitism As A Threat To World Peace

Jews have faced persecution for millennia; from attacks by the Romans to European pogroms and of course the Holocaust. But whilst anti-Jewish sentiment is a longstanding issue, it is unfortunately still a current and urgent threat to world peace.

The most recent anti-Semitic attack covered by the global media has been dubbed “the Chanukah attack” and involved the stabbing of five Hasidic Jews at the house of a rabbi in Monsey, New York while they were celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights. This was a tragic, but not an isolated occurrence. In early December, there was a shooting at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey. In France, 89% of Jewish students have experienced anti-Semitic abuse, according to an Instution français d’opinion publique or French Institute of opinion polls (IFOP) poll from March 2019. Other anti-Semitic incidents include the desecration of Jewish graves with swastikas. The issue has become so bad that President Emmanuel Macron described levels of anti-Semitism as the worst they’ve been since WWII, and many French Jews are fleeing to Israel to escape the threat of violence. Australia is also affected; according to a report by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, in the year between the 1st October 2018 and the 30th September 2019, there were 368 anti-Semitic incidents, including 225 attacks and 143 threats.

Anti-Semitism is not merely a Jewish issue; any attacks on Jews are also an attack on the pluralist societies in which they live. These attacks spread fear and hate and eventually could succeed to divide whole communities. All of the nations mentioned have enshrined pluralist and democratic values, whether defined by ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’, ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ or ‘a fair go.’ Thus, anti-Semitism does not only destroy the physical security of Jewish people (and any others caught in the crossfire), it also undermines the moral foundations of these nations. The underlying values of each nation suggest that peace derives from tolerance and diversity. Those who propagate anti-Semitism undermine these core principles by suggesting that peace is created through division and ultimately the elimination of them. Yet the issue with this is that there is never only one them. We must not forget that the Nazis did not solely target Jews; gays, lesbians, gypsies, communists and other perceived enemies of the state were also put in concentration camps. Peace is not attained through violence; violence merely creates further violence. As Rev. Al Sharpton argued at a press conference of black and Jewish leaders after the Chanukah attack, “You can’t fight hate against you unless you are willing to fight hate against everyone else.”

In order to attain peace, both within local communities and on a grander scale, we first must eliminate all types of bigotry. As an insidious and ongoing form of discrimination, anti-Semitism must be combatted with education and understanding to further our chances of achieving world peace.