Earlier this month, Jewish families observed the wonderful traditions of Hanukkah, a holiday that celebrates religious freedom. Many events of the past year served as poignant reminders that we must continue to remain vigilant in protecting religious liberty.
The FBI reported in November that more than half of all religiously-based criminal offenses target Jews, almost three times greater than any other religious group. According to the FBI, anti-Jewish crimes increased 35 percent in 2017 and 57 percent in 2016. While these documented increases may reflect, in part, an increased number of law enforcement agencies reporting to the federal government, anti-Jewish motivated acts have been increasing over the past several years at an alarming rate. A recent Indianapolis Jewish Community Study found that nearly 30 percent of Jewish teens in central Indiana experienced some form of anti-Semitism last year.
Often referred to as the world’s “longest hatred,” anti-Semitism has persisted for more than 2,000 years, taking on different forms, employing language palatable for the day, with tragic consequences for Jews and non-Jews alike. The disease of anti-Semitism infects both the extreme right and left sides of the political spectrum. Although the language may differ, anti-Semitism from both extremes is grounded in conspiracy theories that explain how Jews are the reason for the persistence of society’s problems. More recently, anti-Jewish bias is often disguised with anti-Israel or anti-Zionist language or behavior.
The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is thankful to the many interfaith, community, and political leaders who have spoken out against anti-Semitism and bigotry and those who preach it.
The JCRC will continue to rededicate our efforts to ensure a secure Jewish future through building relationships with our interfaith and intergroup partners; programs that support and educate both youth and teachers; advocating for Israel’s rightful place in the community of nations; and leading the statewide effort in the Indiana General Assembly to pass hate crime legislation.
It is our hope that all Hoosiers will join us in promoting and preserving an American society that celebrates pluralism and honors difference, and in fighting anti-Semitism by confronting it wherever it surfaces, and from whomever it emanates, to ensure that the world’s oldest hate is given no sanctuary.
JCRC executive director