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Jewish Journal

Stressed and Oppressed: 4 Reasons Humanity is Stuck in Neutral

by Michelle Nichols

May 27, 2014 | 9:30 am

Social issues like racism are far too easy to dismiss when they aren't apparent in everyday life. Many Americans are unaware that anti-Semitism exists today in America because it seems like a European problem. That's not the case, though. Anti-Semitic attitudes still exist everywhere, and hate-crimes against Jews happen with too much frequency. People need to be aware of the dangerous attitudes perpetuating this hatred both abroad and at home.

U.S. Anti-Semitism Isn't Dead

There aren't many hate-crimes against Jews in America anymore, but the hateful anti-Semitic attitude hasn't totally evaporated. As an April 2014 shooting in Kansas City proved, people with dangerous attitudes still exist, with the potential to become vocal and deadly. An extreme racist shot and killed three people near a Jewish community center. Even though events like this are thankfully uncommon, Time magazine reports that 60 percent of anti-religious violence in 2012 was targeted toward the Jewish community.

The Anti-Defamation League keeps track of hate-crimes against Jews. Although certain types of hate-crimes have gone down in numbers since 2012, violence still frequently happens. The problem certainly isn't over. The United States recently brought anti-Semitism into the light as a human rights concern.

Definitions of Anti-Semitism Confuse the Problem

Hatred isn't as simple as it seems, and anti-Jewish attitudes stem from many different places. Social, political, cultural, and religious factors all come into play. Anti-Semitic attitudes can start from any number of places. People raised as strong Catholics in some Latin American communities may learn anti-Semitism. Those who side with Palestine may exhibit anti-Israel sentiments that translate into anti-Semitism.

Of course, racism is still alive and well both in America and in other countries. Some sources point out an anti-Israel bias in the United Nations, which is concerning simply because of the sheer scope of the UN. Trying to pin down the roots of anti-Semitism is good when it brings about change, but while the details of the issue may be very complicated, hatred toward a group of people is simply dangerous. Getting caught up in the details makes it too easy for people to dismiss the problem.

Hate is Strong in the Middle East and North Africa

Some sources might argue that the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict affects social opinions, especially those in countries nearer to the conflict. While it makes sense that nations, like those in the Middle East and North Africa whose people displayed strong anti-Semitic attitudes, would react to events in Israel and Palestine, strong anti-Semitic attitudes don't stem solely from opinions about Israel.

Regardless of whether hatred of the Jewish community comes from an anti-Israel attitude, it doesn't change the fact that many people in the Middle East and North Africa have very strong anti-Jewish sentiments. The Anti-Defamation League reported that the world has more than one billion anti-Semites. This displays a problem of epic proportions.

Too Many People Ignore the Problem

The Holocaust happened decades ago. Some people aren't willing to examine racism as it exists today because nothing as terrible as the Holocaust has happened since. Some people also claim that the Holocaust was exaggerated, or that the Jewish community has used it to manipulate and further their own interests. This attitude is also rooted in an ignorant place of anti-Semitism and perpetuates quiet hatred.

One way to combat this kind of attitude is to seek education. Learning about the past and understanding how it fits with current events is important in fighting hateful attitudes. A bachelor's in criminology and criminal justice can help interested people develop a deep understanding of how crime is perpetuated and how to stop it.

Although it might be inconvenient and unsettling to believe racism is alive and well, anti-Semitism isn't a thing of the past; it didn't disappear when the Holocaust ended. Hatred, bigotry, and ignorance live within a billion people in the world today, and the inability or unwillingness to acknowledge the problem only makes it worse. Proper education and awareness will help us understand the problem and learn to start uprooting the hatred that still exists today.

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