Editorial | Anti-Semitism has no place at UI

February 20, Champaign-Urbana discovered numerous anti-Semitic leaflets scattered around the community. The flyers – ziplock bags with deranged conspiracy theories weighed down by pebbles – were as part of a recent nationwide anti-Semitic effort.

The University rightfully denounced the act as “cowardly and cowardly” and saw the flyers as hate trying to divide our community. Unfortunately, the University is no stranger to anti-Semitic acts. In 2019, a swastika was carved in a toilet cubicle in the foreign languages ​​building. Also in 2019, a student studying college housing gave a presentation that, as reported by The Daily Illini, “included content that raised concerns as being anti-Semitic.”

These appalling acts also extend beyond CU. Recently, at Indiana University, extreme anti-Semitic comments were job on “Greek Rank”, an anonymous and unofficial gossip site about Greek life. Despicable references to the Holocaust have been circulated online and are being investigated as a crime by Indiana University Police.

No student should feel unsafe in their school. Moreover, no one should worry about his life because of his faith. Hate speech, like those we have witnessed here and elsewhere, has no place in society. In its vile wake, we must unite as a community and take a stand against its venom. Hate speech will not divide us – that’s as clear as the sandwich bags the cowards used to spread their horror.

As NPR reports, these anti-Semitic bags have been found in dozens of cities. In sleepy Texas suburbs, residents woke up to the flyers on their driveways. The bags were also discovered in states like Wisconsin and Colorado. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the leaflets arise from of a loose anti-Semitic network. Additionally, the ADL reports that anti-Semitic flyers continue to spread — the last one discovered Feb. 24 in Alabama.

In addition to the increase in these flyers, anti-Semitism, in general, is on the rise in the United States. In a report by the American Jewish Committee, one in four American Jews declared they have been the target of anti-Semitism over the past 12 months.

As a result, the growth of anti-Semitism is killing and harming the Jewish people more than ever. A hostage situation unfolded in a synagogue in Texas in January, 11 were killed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 and today in New York, anti-Semitic crimes have increase with 15 attacks reported in January this year compared to four in January 2021.

In the wake of the horrific rise in anti-Semitism, everyone must prioritize creating a safe and welcoming environment. Like Vlad Khaykin describe for CNN, it starts with educating yourself and becoming an advocate.

“Advocating for the education and protection of others. Approach schools and learning centers about adding programs and curricula on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism,” Khaykin said.

Besides education, Khaykin says reporting hate speech online helps stop the spread of harmful conspiracy theories. Because hate can be so prevalent online, conspiracy theories — like those circulated with flyers — demean atrocities against Jewish people with “absurd comparisons” such as those between mask warrants and the Holocaust.

Likewise, community outreach is key to combating anti-Semitism. For those of the University, organizations to like Illini Hillel, Illini Chabad, Sinai Temple and more help connect and foster community across all walks of life. Likewise, building stronger ties with the Jewish community on campus ensures that hate speech will have no place at the University.

We are one community at the University. Although our backgrounds may differ, there are more things that unite us than divide us. Loose, sandwich-bag conspiracy theories are not welcome at CU, and it is our responsibility – in one loving voice – to block hate speech.

We are better than that. Let’s start acting like this.

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