We are in the midst of a national reckoning on race and justice. Black Lives Matter went from a hashtag and a series of violent protests to a common refrain in corporate boardrooms in a few short years. A perceived increase in anti-Asian sentiment during the pandemic sent people from all walks of life into the streets to Stop Asian Hate.
Yet this newfound public yearning for justice does not apply to all marginalized communities equally.
Unfortunately, neither does the prejudice and discrimination that make them necessary. According to the latest FBI statistics, Jews are at least three times more likely to experience a hate crime than any other minority. Yet nobody seems to care.
My people have been the victims of some of the worst atrocities in human history. And I’m not just talking about ancient history.
One of the latest and most horrific examples is the brutal torture and murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year old doctor and schoolteacher in France.
Sarah was massacred in her own apartment for the crime of being a Jew. French police literally waited outside her apartment as she was beaten to death and thrown out the window, refusing to intervene to save her life.
Afterwards, French courts would not even convict her killer, claiming the murderer was not responsible for his actions while in a "delusional puff" from smoking marijuana.
It would be an understatement to call this a miscarriage of justice.
There were countless institutional failures before, during, and after Sarah’s murder. The police chief whose officers stood outside Sarah’s door and refused to enter must resign immediately.
French government must completely overhaul the legal system that allowed the killer to escape justice. They must commit resources to protect the Jewish community. And most importantly, there needs to be a social and cultural paradigm shift to make the Jew hatred that motivated this attack anathema to all decent people.
Sadly, this incident was not isolated.
Here in the U.S. and all around the globe, Jews face discrimination and violence on a regular basis.
According to the FBI, Jews are far and away the most common victims of hate crimes relative to the size of our population. Jews are three times more likely than Blacks and seventeen times more likely than Asians to suffer a hate crime in the United States.
So where are the protests? When was the last time a major corporate brand spoke out against antisemitism?
Part of the problem is a reluctance among Jews to speak up for ourselves. Intergenerational trauma has made us much more comfortable organizing for any other cause except our own.
We are still within living memory of the systematic extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust and the state-sponsored rape and murder of entire Jewish communities during pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. But change is coming.
Sarah Halimi’s murder may very well be our community’s George Floyd moment.
We are finally now seeing large scale Jewish protests, the first in this country in almost forty years. End Jew Hatred, a grassroots movement I helped organize, has helped put together rallies in Los Angeles, New York, Tel Aviv, Toronto, and San Francisco - and we’re just getting started.
We are recruiting and mobilizing activists and allies every day at JusticeForSarahHalimi.com.
Anti-Jewish racism is no more acceptable than any other form.
I am sick and tired of hearing the excuses for our collective malaise. We can no longer claim ignorance and we will no longer tolerate inaction. It is time for Jews and our allies to rise to the occasion and demand an end to Jew hatred in our lifetime.
Brooke Goldstein is a New York City-based human rights attorney, author, and award-winning filmmaker. She serves as Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about and facilitating a response to the abuse of Western legal systems and human rights law.
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