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Let my people go

Bomb threats to Jewish cemeteries and community centers continue

By: Zoe Strickland
Managing Editor

I want to preface this by saying that I identify as being culturally Jewish rather than religiously Jewish. I was raised in an interfaith household; my mom is Jewish and my dad isn’t religious, though his family somewhat is.

That being said, I’ve always been closer to my Jewish roots than my Christian ones. I know the beliefs, prayers, history, holidays. Growing up I didn’t go to Hebrew school, but I went to synagogue on Fridays and celebrated the high holy days. I have Jewish family members who moved here as a way of escaping Hitler’s regime. I’m proud of my heritage and I’m proud of what we’ve survived.

So when I see that there have been over 150 bomb threats to Jewish community centers and repeated instances of vandalism to Jewish cemeteries, I get angry. I get angry that this has been happening for months, and that the president waited until Feb. 28 to address it. I get angry that the religion I was raised with, one that promoted nothing but kindness and acceptance, is now being targeted because people are somehow still stuck in the 1930s. It’s sickening.

All of this has been done before: the threats, the vandalism.

During the Nazi regime they would set up days that were fully devoted to toppling down Jewish headstones. We’ve seen this before, we have a general idea of what it leads to, but there isn’t an active effort being made to combat the threats that are being made. Having one speech that denounces acts of hate is great, but it doesn’t prevent anything.

According to CNN, the bomb threats have been happening in waves “On Jan. 9, 15 Jewish centers and schools received bomb threats. Since then, the threats have occurred in waves, with a series of threats on Jan. 18, Jan. 31, Feb. 20,” reported an article from March 1. These threats are premeditated, they’re clearly being timed and put out in a specific way.

The police caught one of the people who was making the threats directed at New York community centers, and he was perpetrating the threats as a way of setting up his ex-girlfriend because he was mad at her. Bomb threats against any place, religion or organization aren’t justified. They aren’t a ploy to use to get back at someone you’re mad at. It’s a form of targeted, misplaced retaliation.

This past weekend was Purim, a Jewish holiday that’s meant to celebrate the resistance against an ancient Persian king’s plan to annihilate the Jews. During Purim, there was another wave of threats towards Jewish community centers. According to the PewResearchCenter, Jews make up 1.9 percent of the United States. The bomb threats not only target a specific group of people, but they also threaten the safety of a minority community in the United States. Regardless of the community, religious or not, we should all be concerned when any group within the country is threatened.

So far, in the United States and Canada, there has been a combined total of 154 threats to the Jewish community. We’re nearly three months into 2017 and 72 years past the end of WWII; why is this still going on?

Contact the author at zstrickland14@wou.edu