Rise of Antisemitism in the United States

Beatriz Marteleto-Lara, Staffer

Since World War II, antisemitic attacks, rallies, and hate speech has been spreading in America have skyrocketed. The growing antisemitism is clear from the many attacks on synagogues that occurred this past year, such as the attack on a New York City synagogue in Dec. 2022, according to CNN. World Geography and Facing History teacher Neil Loewenstern has noted an abrupt increase in antisemitic attacks that he had not noticed before.


“Personally, I haven’t experienced much antisemitism, but recently, I have seen increasing antisemitism in the Austin community and the country,” Loewenstern said. “The most shocking instance was that about two years ago, our synagogue’s doors were set on fire, and last year, there was a group hanging antisemitic banners here and in San Antonio. Those are things I’ve never seen in my whole life, and I’m all of a sudden seeing them here in Austin.”


Sophomore Jonah Plasse has also observed a recent rise in antisemitic speech. Although his overall experience as a Jewish person in America has been a good one, the looming hate of antisemites has made him more fearful of the implications that come with his religion.


“For the majority of my life, my experience in the Jewish community has been a fairly positive one,” Plasse said. “It has provided me with a larger family past my own with Judaism’s sense of community. However, there have been some moments where being Jewish has led others to say some hurtful things. In recent years, violence against Jews has been on the increase, making it harder to be part of the Jewish community without some sense of fear.”


Reflecting on the change in recent antisemitism, sophomore Shahar Yaacob has noticed that her perspectives on certain subjects are almost immediately assumed by others because of her Israeli heritage and Jewish faith. She believes that many antisemites mix up Judaism and being Israeli, thinking the two have become synonymous. In addition, Yaacob has noticed that because of this blending of Judaism and Israeli origin, many people also tend to blame all Jewish people for the actions of the Israeli government. 


“I was born in Israel, and I came to the US when I was three years old, so all of my family is Jewish, and I participate a lot in the Texan Jewish community,” Yaacob said. “Concerning antisemitism, I get stereotyped for my opinions often when we have certain discussions, such as ones about the Israel-Palestine conflict. If a conversation about it starts in class, for example, I feel like my opinion is immediately assumed to support Israel, even though I am very against how the Israeli government handled it.”


Loewenstern agrees with Yaacob that people tend to mix up dislike of Israel with the dislike of all Jewish people, creating a blend of anti-Zionism and antisemitism.  He has also noticed that it is mostly younger generations who face more antisemitism because of the Israel-Palestine conflict.


“Antisemitic thinking has grown in our country, and for younger people, that is often attached to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Loewenstern said. “For older generations, it’s not so much about Israel, but for younger generations like Gen-Z, the issues around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [has stirred up] some sympathy for the Palestinian cause then gets translated into bad things about Jews.” 


Loewenstern also believes that this influx of antisemitism in the US is caused by the recent political activity of former president Donald Trump. He said that antisemites might’ve felt validated by Trump’s speech, especially when Trump uses Jewish people as scapegoats to support conspiracy theories.

“I also think the best thing Jews can do is to continue to live only and proudly in their Judaism, showing that hatred won’t stop us.” -Will Hall, Rabbi

“It’s partially related to the Trump administration not condemning activities such as the Charlottesville rally against the removal of a Confederate monument statue,” Loewenstern said. “Some of the people that participated were also shouting antisemitic and anti-Jewish chants, and a woman that was protesting against it was killed. [In response], President Trump commented that there were good and bad people on both sides, and I think that this gave a lot of support for antisemitic people to want to support President Trump.”


Rabbi Will Hall is Senior Jewish Educator at Texas Hillel. He said he has experienced antisemitism in the form of antisemitic slurs and graffiti, but he said one of the best ways to prevent antisemitism is education. 


“I think education and doing multicultural interfaith work to bridge gaps between communities goes a long way,” Hall said. “I also think the best thing Jews can do is to continue to live only and proudly in their Judaism, showing that hatred won’t stop us.”