There has been a dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents worldwide since the Hamas massacre on October 7, along with tumultuous protests against Israel on university campuses, creating a pervasive feeling of insecurity for Jews globally. This shift has affected Jewish lives not only in Israel but around the world.
Alongside official and unofficial explanatory efforts, pro-Israel activity on social networks, and the local organization of Jews forming what could be described as "preparedness groups" intensifying security measures, the primary response to the wave of antisemitism comes from local authorities and security forces in every city.
A special summit in Florida focused on combating street-level antisemitism, drawing leaders from 50 cities in the United States. Lisa Katz, Mayor of New Castle in New York State, argues that even in her small town with about 20,000 residents, where some prominent figures have expressed unclassified support for Israel, like the spouses Bill and Hillary Clinton, the change since October 7 is palpable.
After Katz decided to fly the Israeli flag at City Hall, she started receiving complaints from residents and even contentious visits from activists of the "Jewish Voice for Peace" organization, who burst into city council meetings demanding the removal of the flag and publicly calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Jewish philanthropist from Kansas, Adam Barron, the founder of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) in 2019 and its primary funder, explains that the idea was born out of the realization that "to combat age-old hatred in the world, new and creative solutions must be found." In a densely populated field saturated with numerous Jewish organizations working in the same arena, CAM, he asserts, found its niche in municipal resolution, with a particular focus on the annual conference of city leaders being the highlight of their efforts.
According to the Anti-Defamation League's data, in the month since the Hamas terror attack on Israel, there has been a 316% increase in antisemitic incidents in the United States compared to the same period last year. This trend is not unique to the United States. According to CAM data, since October 7, there has been a 960% increase in antisemitic incidents in Brazil, 818% in the Netherlands, 500% in the United Kingdom, 300% in Austria, and 240% in Germany.
Moreover, except for Americans, the majority of residents in other countries surveyed believe that Israel's response to the Hamas terror attack is disproportionately harsh. On the other hand, most agree that antisemitism is currently a problem on campuses across the United States and that pro-Palestinian protests on these campuses encourage violence.
"Antisemitism is now within our cities, on our community streets," addressed Mayor Trentalis to his constituents from the stage. "We need to make a tangible change in this fight. Especially in times like these, we must unite, stand together against outdated beliefs, and reaffirm the principles of democracy, tolerance, and inclusion."
The climax of the event was when family representatives of the hostages addressed the city officials: Natalia Kesroti, whose brother, Keshet, 21, was murdered at the Nova Music Festival; Maayan Sigal-Koren, dressed in a shirt with pictures of her five family members kidnapped by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, pleaded with those present: "Please share my story, please help me bring my family home"; Diego Engelbert, whose sister Karina, her husband, and their two children are held by Hamas, held a sign with a picture of his sister and apologized for his "broken English." Some of the attendees, including the writer of these lines who covers the war and the stories of the captives from day one, were forced to leave the hall to stop the tears. Some captured the moments and shared the documentation on social media.