Discussing Anti-Semitism: A Guide for Reflection and Conversation

  • April 29, 2019
Tree of Life Synagogue

Matt Rourke, AP

In 2018, the United States witnessed the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in its history when a white supremacist entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire, killing 11 congregants and wounding two more. The shooter allegedly later told police that he wanted to kill Jews, and in his online social media posts reportedly fulminated against Jews for bringing immigrants into the country. This did not happen in a vacuum; a history of anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world built a foundation for this event to occur. The anti-Semitic myths and tropes used today echo the same myths and tropes used for the past thousand years or more.
Anti-Semitism is prejudice and/or discrimination against Jews, often based on stereotypes and myths that target the Jews as people or their religious practices and beliefs.


Anti-Semitism is not only about defaming and attacking the Jewish community; it’s a symptom of a larger issue. Those that hold ideologies of hatred against the Jewish people generally also hold ideologies of hatred against other peoples and communities.


 ADL has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents in the United States since 1979. The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents accounts for assaults, vandalism and harassment, but we know that there are many unreported incidents of anti-Semitism, from jokes to microaggressions to insensitive comments that normalize anti-Semitic rhetoric. In 2018, ADL logged 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in 46 states and the District of Columbia, including 344 incidents in K-12 schools. The 2018 total number of incidents was the third highest number recorded since ADL started tracking this data four decades ago. In order to better understand and unpack anti-Semitism, this guide is intended to enable adults — educators and parents or caregivers — to initiate conversations with young people about anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.


ADL has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents in the United States since 1979. The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents accounts for assaults, vandalism and harassment, but we know that there are many unreported incidents of anti-Semitism, from jokes to microaggressions to insensitive comments that normalize anti-Semitic rhetoric. In 2018, ADL logged 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The 2018 total number of incidents was the third highest number recorded since ADL started tracking this data four decades ago. Total incidents in 2018 decreased by 5% from the 1,986 incidents ADL recorded in 2017. However, the 2018 total is 48% higher than the number of incidents in 2016 and 99% higher than in 2015.


In order to better understand and unpack ADL’s audit on anti-Semitism, this discussion guide provides a way to initiate conversation about how anti-Semitism impacts both the Jewish community and the United States at large, and what we can do about it. This resource is intended to enable you to initiate conversations with your peers, colleagues, family and community about anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.

 

Download discussion guide below:

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