In recent years, Jews around the world have experienced an eruption of antisemitism throughout their communities. Alarmingly, there is rarely a day that goes by without hearing of an incident involving either a physical assault, an antisemitic slur or even sometimes deadly attacks targeting Jews somewhere in the world. In the backdrop of this climate of hatred directed at the Jewish people, how can we as a community and as a society, help shape this world to being a more accepting, safer place for people of all religions, backgrounds and beliefs?
After all, antisemitism is an irrational hatred of Jews. It’s not that Jews did or didn’t do something that has led people to discriminate against them and to target the Jewish community writ large. So what explains the dramatic rise in antisemitism?
Every time I hear of another terrible incident that happens where Jews are targeted; I crumble inside. Recently, as I started my journey in CEGEP, there have been situations that have hit closer to home which deeply affect me. What I find most sad about this situation is the ignorance. People say things and act in ways that are hurtful to others without even realizing it. Situations such as Kanye West threatening to go death con 3 against the Jews, NBA star Kyrie Irving sharing antisemetic films on his social media and so much more has proven to me how ignorant people in our world can be. When people who have such high social positions in the world speak against the Jewish people, it gives all the people who do not know better a reason to hate us even more. Now, more than ever, Jews must stand up for ourselves and do all we can to educate those around us about the need to forcefully combat Jew hatred.
Recently in Montreal, at a neighbouring CEGEP college, an antisemitic incident occurred against my friends. This past Halloween, students showed up to Dawson College dressed up in the spirit of the day. Everybody loves to have a good time and get creative with their costumes until people go overboard. As shown in videos that were circulating on social media and as I heard directly from some of my friends who were at the scene, a group of students created a path for a student who marched through dressed up as a German soldier. Despite the student’s claims that he was dressed in a post-World War II uniform and that he had no animus towards the Jewish people, his march and salute was nevertheless unnerving. The feeling of uncomfort and danger that filled my body when seeing this was indescribable. I am not sure why this is something that anybody would find funny or appropriate to do and something needs to change.
Normalization of antisemitism leads to weaponization of Jew hatred. The same way that, rightfully so, nobody would dare walk around on Halloween mocking other races or ethnicities, it should be no different for Jews. We must spread awareness, we must educate and we must do our best to stop antisemitism from spreading. As a CEGEP student, a campus ambassador and a proud Jew, I feel the responsibility to keep working as hard as I can to ensure that Jewish students can walk around campus without any fear that something may happen to them.
By: Michaela Dadoun