Insults, old as the ages, scrawled on walls

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A friend, the mother of a 13-year-old boy in a nearby community, said her son was the only Jewish boy on a community sports team. She said that the other boys showed her son “appalling” anti-Semitic “jokes” they found online. She wondered whether she should go to school officials, and the answer, of course, is yes, absolutely. Anti-Semitism flourishes in the dark.

The story I read online about the anti-Semitic graffiti at Roosevelt Field was followed by comments from readers of the Fox News website. The remarks were shocking. Grown men (and they were all men) posted incredibly ignorant, inflammatory comments mocking the “excessive” attention being paid to the graffiti problem. The men included photos of themselves, and some stated their ostensibly legitimate business affiliations, although we all know both the names and the businesses could be bogus. It was their comments that were so disturbing — tapping into the dark legacy of anti-Semitic mythology, referring to Jews as killers of Christ, evil money-changers and organizers of anti-Orthodox Christian pogroms in the Soviet Union.

Like the Holocaust deniers, one of the forum writers suggested that people in concentration camps enjoyed soccer leagues and music and had their own printed money.

For those who lived through the camps and those whose parents survived the Holocaust, these ideas cannot be dismissed as rank stupidity. Anti-Semitic literature, comments and public graffiti can erode, in a moment, the feelings of safety and security survivors have fought for in the post-war decades. And it isn’t Holocaust survivors alone who recoil at anti-Semitic incidents in our communities. All of us are diminished by bias and religious hatred. Coretta Scott King said many years ago that anti-Semitism, like other forms of bigotry, “seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”
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