There Is No Vaccine for the Antisemitism Epidemic
Rabbi Jaime Aklepi holds a sign at an interfaith Rally Against Antisemitism, hosted by Greater Miami Jewish Federation at the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach on June 3, 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There Is No Vaccine for the Antisemitism Epidemic

Ma’ariv, Israel, February 25

My parents left the Soviet Union in the early 1970s, when freedom of expression was not allowed. Upon arriving in Israel, they were sent to a run-down neighborhood in Ashdod; which looked like the Bronx in the 1950s. This area was inhabited by a diverse group of Jews from Morocco, the Caucasus, Russia, Tunisia and more. Although my parents faced some absorption challenges, freedom of expression was not one of them. Everyone could openly criticize the government’s policies; it was done freely and with great enthusiasm. Despite the country’s imperfections, freedom of expression was never prohibited, unlike in the Soviet Union. Decades after the mass and systematic murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust, the Communist government in the former Soviet Union denied freedom of religion in the name of equality, yet antisemitism remained prevalent. Horrific photos of the concentration camps, with heaps of corpses and skeletal remains, failed to eradicate the world’s deep-seated hatred of Jews. Sadly, antisemitism in the former Soviet Union and beyond still persists. Recently, as Russia continues its occupation of Ukraine and leads a mass exodus of millions of refugees, antisemitism continues to rear its head across the world. The Syrian regime also has perpetrated a campaign of brutal killings against the elderly, women and children, yet the world stood idly by. Iran has even implemented a new method of torture against those who oppose its regime – the gouging out of one eye – yet the world remains silent. The United Nations General Assembly has yet to convene an emergency meeting to address the human rights violations committed by Iran on a daily basis, or to consider the plight of the Kurdish people in the wake of a recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Regrettably, Afghan women also have been forgotten by the “civilized world” and left to suffer at the whims of the oppressive rule of the Taliban and their distorted interpretation of Islam. Despite the many years of war and peace, economic crises and human rights violations, antisemitism persists in many countries and regions around the world. When it comes to finding scapegoats for global injustices, it may be time to recognize the hypocrisy of singling out any group – typically the State of Israel or the Jews – while ignoring other egregious offenses. – Ruth Wasserman Landa (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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