Growing ignorance about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism is pushing Jewish Americans to be more vigilant
The other boy drew the symbol without knowing its meaning simply because it caught his eye, said Igel, who is now 41 years old.
“These issues are happening in our houses of worship, and in the supermarkets where we shop and in the communities where we live,” said Greenblatt, adding that in-person incidents are only a portion of the hate, compared to the threats and harassment that happen online and is “a tremendous problem.”
A ‘worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge’
Although Greenblatt and others in the Jewish community have accepted Goldberg’s apology after she falsely declared on “The View” that the Holocaust was “not about race” this week, many still see it as a clear sign of the need for more education about the Holocaust.
More than half of respondents were not aware that six million Jews were killed, 48% could not name a concentration camp where Jews were taken during the Holocaust and 11% said they believed Jews caused it, according to the survey.
“It’s on me, it’s on you because the survivors are no longer going to be here very soon,” he said.
Igel’s grandparents were Polish farmers and got married the night Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. He says they would tell him stories about how various other farmers hid them and eventually helped them escape.
“My grandfather had a thick accent you know, he would always say it was the worst in people but we always want you to know it was the best in people, too,” Igel said.
For him, the Holocaust must be discussed and taught in schools because the “absence of these lessons leads to a lack of empathy.”
“Maus,” which was initially serialized and then published in two volumes in 1986 and 1992, is a blend of historical fiction and memoir that follows Spiegelman’s Jewish parents in 1940s Poland, from their early experiences of anti-Semitism to their internment in Auschwitz. It depicts Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats.
“It was the antisemitic, systematic murder of 6 million Jews and there is no legitimate ‘opposing’ perspective to that,” said Joel Schwitzer, regional director of the American Jewish Committee, Dallas.
Violent attacks and vandalism
A few weeks before the standoff in Texas, he says, some synagogues he had been in touch with did not appear to have an interest in taking “a deeper dive on security.”
Since the standoff, the group has seen an increase in calls and has scheduled multiple trainings every night over the next month.
“There’s been more and more investment in security in the different major cities and communities around the country but it needs to stay that way. I think there needs to be reminders and the reminder shouldn’t have to be a Colleyville,” Bernstein said.
While those incidents were not violent, Bernstein says, there’s been a continuation of the wave of anti-Semitism the country had seen in the years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which may have slowed down in-person incidents but continued being “rampant” online.
“Just like I would say to you that racism is not simply an issue for Black Americans and it’s an issue for all Americans,” he said. “I would say anti-Semitism isn’t just a problem for the Jewish people. It’s an American problem that demands an American solution.”