A limited snapshot of the last two months: two Muslim bans, four mosques set ablaze, four transwomen brutally murdered, a Sikh man shot in Kent, a black Muslim teenager hanged outside Seattle and more than 140 bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers. We, as members of Jewish Voice for Peace, see anti-Semitism as one manifestation of this rampant bigotry and refuse to be isolated by fear that anti-Semitism seeks to sow. Silence is admission, and we will not forget.
Anti-Semitism is palpable on campus, not only in swastikas scrawled on street signs or in offensive fliers printed on many university printers, but also in microaggressions, careless comments in the ASSU and The Stanford Review articles that exploit the Jewish struggle as a political weapon.
However, anti-Semitism is by no means localized to Stanford, nor is it new to the United States. Anti-Jewish bigotry is embedded within American history, and in living memory Jewish people have experienced systematic persecution. It is vital to remember now the immigration restrictions on Jewish refugees beginning in 1924, redlining and housing discrimination against Jews in American cities, and Jewish admission quotas at institutions like Stanford as late as the 1960s.
With the rise of other forms of bigotry, anti-Semitism has become increasingly visible in the United States. In recent months, Jewish communities around the country have been targeted by persistent acts of hate: six waves of bomb threats phoned into Jewish community centers since New Years, vandalization of Jewish cemeteries in Rochester, St. Louis and Philadelphia, and gunshots fired at the Tampa, Florida JCC. Meanwhile, President Trump has suggested that these hate crimes are “the reverse,” that they were manufactured to damage his reputation. It is important to recognize that, unlike Trump, Stanford has released statements directly condemning recent anti-Semitic incidents, something the University has not done for many other hate crimes on campus.
Most important to understand is that anti-Semitism is not an isolated force, but one of many forms of very prevalent intolerance and ignorance in the United States – it is one part of a larger array of experiences of oppression, something that many of us, including Jews of color, low-income Jews, queer Jews and disabled Jews, have known for a long time. Thus, these anti-Semitic assaults demand that the Stanford community come together in a political moment divided by hate and fear. Coming together means explicitly, deliberately and materially supporting and advocating for other marginalized groups. It means acknowledging the privilege and power we have and how we each contribute to systems of oppression. It means actively and vocally recognizing that we live on colonized land and taking real and challenging action in support of indigenous-led efforts for justice. It means unwavering ally-ship with Muslim communities that doesn’t leave Palestine out. It means internal reflection, education and criticism. It means understanding the ways our struggles align. As Stanford Jewish Voice for Peace, we are devoted to working toward these aspirations of solidarity, inclusion and collective liberation. We recognize the importance of remaining continually accountable to those with Muslim, Palestinian, Latinx, black, brown, trans, immigrant, queer, disabled, low-income and otherwise marginalized identities in our activism.
To the Stanford Jewish community: Now is also a time for self-care, for building support systems and for sharing and listening. This nationwide anti-Semitism may seem both removed and deeply personal; this political moment is a chapter of an intergenerational narrative of oppression and resilience. Many of us have grown up on our parents’ and grandparents’ memories of violence, dispossession, forced migration, fear and trauma, and have lived and breathed that legacy our entire lives. The past month of bomb threats and cemetery desecrations has been especially jarring – many of these Jewish Community Centers hold daycares during the times in which the threats were phoned in. These gravestones bear the names of Holocaust survivors, of Jewish immigrants who hoped for a life for their children free of fear, of a generation of survivors. These recent acts of terror threaten our communities literally from childhood until death and remind us of the lifelong struggle against bigotry. Our communal experiences are a prism through which we can begin to understand and support all those currently under attack. It is our duty to rise together as we speak out.
– Jewish Voice for Peace
Contact Jewish Voice for Peace at jvpstanford ‘at’ gmail.com.