How Bad Can It Be? Anti-Semitism in Our “Tolerant” Culture

In Blogs by Jesse King3 Comments

The modern world is great, isn’t it? We’ve got so many things to be thankful for. Mind-boggling technology has connected people around the world more easily than ever, and for the most part, we’re pretty happy and healthy all safe in our homes.

Sure, there are issues of racism and violence here and there, but there’s definitely a decline from our more dubious past human history of worldwide war and oppression, right?

This complacent mindset is exactly what allows anti-Semitism to rise rather than disappear in the present. The struggles of the Jewish people don’t always register on the worry meter for those who would rather turn a blind eye than to rally to their defense. 

But again, we don’t hear about Jewish people being attacked or killed in local news every day. So this begs the question: How bad can it be?

Jewish targeting is much more prevalent than we may realize, particularly since the most egregious offenses occur in Europe or the Middle East. Consider that Germany reported a 60% increase in the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks from 2017 to 2018, while France’s number of such incidents rose by 74%.1 Germany noted 1,646 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, the highest such number in 10 years and an average of almost five per day. Remember also that these numbers represent only the amount of attacks recorded; the actual number of anti-Semitic crimes committed likely is much higher.

French President Emmanuel Macron labeled the growth of anti-Semitism as unprecedented since World War II. He also took a stand against those who support anti-Zionism, calling it “one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism. Behind the negation of Israel’s existence, what is hiding is the hatred of Jews.”2

As expected, the Middle East still boils with resentment toward its Jewish neighbors. The Anti-Defamation League conducted its ADL Global 100 study with results of the attitudes and opinions toward Jewish people among more than 100 countries in 2014 and 2015. The findings were unpleasant but not unexpected: Anti-Semitism runs rampant around the world but most prominently in the Middle East. While the rest of the world’s percentage of anti-Semitic attitudes hovered between 14 and 34%, Middle Eastern countries had an average of 74%, with the West Bank and Gaza ranking highest at 93% and Iraq next highest at 92%. More than 85% of those surveyed in the West Bank and Gaza believed that Jewish people have too much power in the business world, U.S. government, international financial markets, global media, and global affairs, and they think Jewish people’s collective behavior is justification for subjecting them to persecution.3

This is far from an exclusively foreign issue. Hatred of Jewish people is unfettered throughout the U.S. today. They represent the most targeted people group in the country’s most populated metropolis, New York City. In 2019, anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen by 63% in the city and have accounted for more than half of all its hate crimes.4 The country as a whole suffered 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents of harassment, vandalism, and violence in 2018, including 341 in California and 340 in New York.5 The most demonstrative example was the shooting inside the Pittsburgh synagogue Tree of Life that left 11 Jewish worshipers dead and seven more injured on October 27, 2018, the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the history of the United States. 

Tablet Magazine masterfully reported the personal, in-depth experiences of violence that Jewish people have endured in recent years, particularly in Brooklyn, New York. One account described a teenager being punched unexpectedly in the back of the head, who said, “At first I honestly thought a car ran into me—it was such a blow.” Another account, recorded and posted publicly on Twitter, showed a man chasing teenage Jewish girls before screaming, “You Jews, you’ve created this cult,” and spitting in the face of another Jewish man defending the girls. Other accounts detailed mezuzah burnings, paintball gun attacks, punching, kicking, choking, and stabbings.6 These hate crimes are simultaneously getting out of hand and yet completely normal—exacerbating the issue of the longevity of anti-Semitism.  

It’s unlikely that a day goes by without a Jewish person being attacked or racially insulted. You can find a litany of YouTube and Twitter videos with recordings of Jewish people being sucker punched, spat on, or thrown to the ground without warning. It’s a scary time to be Jewish around the world, though honestly, this problem is nothing new; it’s always been dangerous to be Jewish in this anti-Semitic world. 

The next time you wonder how exaggerated the Jewish plight is, remember the frequency and magnitude of the attacks they endure on a daily basis. We’re called to love God’s Chosen People, and that begins with showing our support for them and standing in solidarity with them in the face of endless persecution.


1 Jon Henley. “Antisemitism Rising Sharply Across Europe, Latest Figures Show.” The Guardian. Last modified February 15, 2019.

2 “Antisemitism at Worst Levels Since Second World War, Says Macron.” The Guardian. Last modified February 21, 2019.

3 The ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism. Accessed September 3, 2019.

4 “NYPD Police: Over Half of New York City Hate Crimes were Anti-Semitic in 2019 Year to Date.” World Israel News. Last modified September 5, 2019.

5 Christina Zhao. “Jews Most Targeted Group in New York City in 2018 as Anti-Semitic Assaults Doubled Across America: Study.” Newsweek. Last modified April 30, 2019.

6 Armin Rosen. “Everybody Knows.” Tablet Magazine. Last modified July 15, 2019.

About the Author
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Jesse King

Jesse is the managing editor of Israel My Glory magazine and a staff writer for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

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