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ארכיון 2018 ג'ף פינקלשטיין מנכ"ל נשיא הפדרציה היהודית בפיטסבורג פנסילבניה ארה"ב
Photo: AP

Anti-Semitism, people are no longer ashamed to show it

Ynet reporters check in on the people impacted by some of 2018's worst manifestations of anti-Semitism in Jewish communities around the world

In a week's time, at the state ceremony marking the start of Israel's Independence-day celebration, Rabbi Jeff Finkelstein, president of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, will light a celebratory torch in the name of Jews of the Diaspora.

 

 

For Finkelstein it will be the end of a tough six months, Probably the toughest the Jewish community in Pittsburgh has known

It was a Saturday morning in October, when a racist, Robert Bowers, entered the Tree of Live synagogue, opened fire and murdered 11 worshippers. This is now known as the worst atrocity in Jewish American history.

 

The Tree of Life Synagogue after deadly shooting (Photo: AFP)
The Tree of Life Synagogue after deadly shooting (Photo: AFP)

 

Last Saturday, exactly six months later, in Poway, California, another murderer opened fire, killing Lori kaye and wounding four other worshippers.

 

It is now 80 years since the beginning of the Second World War and the extermination of European Jewry by the Nazis, and anti-Semitic incidents are at a record-breaking high.

 

2018 has not been good to Jews around the world. Ynet reporters are going back to some places impacted by the most despicable anti-Semitic crimes, to check in.

 

"I am proud to represent the diaspora in the torch lighting ceremony" says Rabbi Jeff Finkelstein who has lead the Tree of Life congregation for over a 15 years, "though I would gladly give up the honor this tragedy never to have happened and fore these 11 people to have been with us today.

 

Flowers in memory of victims of Tree of Life shooting (Photo: AFP)
Flowers in memory of victims of Tree of Life shooting (Photo: AFP)

 

Since that horrible day, he has been helping the families of the victims. He also started a program to support victims of terror from the mosques in New Zealand.

 

Rabbi Finkelstein told Ynet, this week, that his community is recovering slowly. "our community came together after the attack" He said. "we are more united. We've given psychological help where it was needed. This week, following the shooting in Poway, we brought psychologists to the synagogue, to encouraged people who wanted to talk".

 

Rabbi Jeff Finkelstein (Photo: courtesey of the Jewish federation, PA)
Rabbi Jeff Finkelstein (Photo: courtesey of the Jewish federation, PA)

Security is tighter there now. "We've looked at our security arrangements. We're checking what security our members can provide. I think we are all more alert since we were attacked".

 

Finkelstein says the Neo-Nazi's are a relatively small group in the United States but he still takes the FBI statistics, that show a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, seriously. "Anti-Semitism is the oldest form of hate in any society so though it is increasing now, it is our job to push it back down and make sure it stays down".

 

Sara Malka Cohavi looks at her door and smiles, it is clean and to the right of it is a Mezuzah. "It's nice to have one on the door worrying it will be ripped off".

 

She's been in Israel for 5 months but only six months ago her home in Las Vegas was targeted by anti-Semites, twice.

 

One November morning, Sara left home early, to run errands in preparing for her "Aliya", move to Israel, with her Israeli husband and their three children. A move they've been planning for three years. When she got back, she saw someone had sprayed a swastika's and 'Heil Hitler' on her door.

 

swastika on the door of a Jewish family in Los Vegas
swastika on the door of a Jewish family in Los Vegas
 

 

She told Ynet at the time, that she did not know who was behind this act of vandalism, but it was time to leave.

 

Originally the plan was to move to Israel within a year, but that evening, Sara and her husband booked their flights for the following month. Preparations were taking a while because Sara was not born Jewish, she was adopted by a Jewish family. But everything was put on a fast track.

 

As a sign they were right to move, two weeks before they were due to leave, while lighting the 5th Hanukah candle, someone egged their door. "It just shows you if someone dislikes the fact that you are Jewish, they will let you know. Shockingly they don't try to hide it anymore"

 

The trauma is still fresh. "I was scared to walk out with my kids, I didn't want them to see the door. We ended up covering it with a cloth. We later found-out that more houses had the same thing done to them"

 

Sara Kochavi
Sara Kochavi
 

 

Sara is happy with her decision to move to Israel. "living here is amazing. the kids love it here and so do we. I'm only sorry the Nevada police will stop looking for the person who attacked my home. He was never caught and will probably do it again to some other Jewish family"

 

Sara believes these acts are motivated by the same old ani-Semitic hate along with an ani-Israeli sentiment: "People think Israel is an apartheid country" she says.

 

Sarah and her husband have told the kids about Holocaust Memorial Day, they've prepared them for the sirens, since this will be the first time, they will experience them. They also showed them clips on YouTube.

 

14 thousand Jews live in Cape Town, in South Africa and the community is still reeling from the vandalism of last December when 39 out of the 50 tombstones were vandalized in the small cemetery in Wellington, a 45 min. drive away.

 

The community has started repairs but they are expensive and there is no budget. The local mayor was asked to help. Stuart Diamond, leader of the Jewish community, says there are not many anti-Semitic incidents in the Cape area, but the numbers are rising.

 

"There is a lot of hate" he told Ynet," we have adopted the attitude of dealing with it. We expect community leaders to condemn it".

 

Holocaust Memorial Day is important for us" he said, "it's a reminder that hate should be dealt with before it grows, and Holocaust Memorial Day is a good platform from which to spread that idea.

 

Jews must realize that 80 years ago in Poland this hate existed and it still does today, and it is up to us to make sure history does not repeat itself".

 

Anti Israel demonstration, Cape Town (Photo: EPA)
Anti Israel demonstration, Cape Town (Photo: EPA)

 

Stuart is worried most about the rhetoric of political leaders. "They are quick to give titles. We are monitoring things and call for interfaith dialogue. I spoke in a mosque not long ago. We are building bridges.

 

"There are 750 thousand Muslims in the area. BDS is strong here. The Jewish community considers itself ultimately responsible to protect Israel against the BDS but that has its risks.

 

"Jews are well assimilated in these parts. They want to be part of building its history" Stewart says, but the BDS movement is becoming stronger and the government has lowered the level of diplomatic relations with Israel and recalled its ambassador.

 

Still the Wellington incident is an aberration.

 

"Our lesson is that anti-Semitism and hate cannot be ignored and must be talked about.

 

"After events in Pittsburgh and Poway, we must take things seriously. We have had protection around our Jewish institutions for the past 20 years. There are armed police outside our synagogues. We must be vigilant and have taken steps to make sure Jews are safe.

 

For 5 or 6 years, a blatantly anti-Semitic mural hung at The Vortex art complex in central Los Angeles, until a Jewish woman who came by for a local festival, saw it and decided to put an end to it.

 

 

She contacted Tal Segal, who worked for the World Zionist Organization, and he, along with friends, posted a picture on social media and got a huge response. There were expressions of shock, outcries and even activism. Someone showed up at the wall with white spray paint and wrote: "there is no place for hate".

 

Anti Semitic mural in LA (Photo: Tal Segal)
Anti Semitic mural in LA (Photo: Tal Segal)

 

But the owner of the wall, refused to erase the disgusting image that shows the angel of death dropping a baby, clad in a blue cloth with stars of David, surrounded by snakes and missiles and of course the obligatory bowl of cash.

 

Though the mayor of L.A. condemns the mural, he cannot force the private owner to remove it. But Segal says they've raised awareness and that too is important. People need to recognize when something is anti-Semitic and hateful.

 

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 05.02.19, 07:55
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