Jews afraid to wear items showing ethnic identity, says Jewish Federations of North America

With the rise in violent anti-Semitic attacks, Jews in America are scared to wear items in public that identify them as Jewish, says JFNA president and CEO Eric Fingerhut.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Jews are afraid to display their religious and ethnic identity in public, Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America, warned.

Fingerhut is in Israel in a show of support for the IDF’s counterterrorism operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and against the background of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. in wake of operation Guardian of the Walls.

The Secure Community Network (SCN), the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America, warned over the weekend that “the recent violence between Israel and Hamas has led directly to attacks on Jewish Americans in the United States.”

On Tuesday, a Jewish man in Los Angeles was beaten by a group of protesters who were reportedly asking members of the public if they were Jewish.

On Wednesday, anti-Semitic graffiti was found in a children’s playground in Greenville, New York. According to reports, swastikas were drawn on slides and other playground equipment in permanent marker. Graffiti was also found in the baseball dugout.

On May 16, an unknown assailant shattered a window at a synagogue in Skokie, Illinois, and left a pro-Palestinian flyer on the doorstep during the incident.

Several Jewish organizations have reported receiving anti-Semitic and anti-Israel related messages via their social media pages.

“The situation in the Middle East is volatile and there are people in the U.S. who will take advantage of the situation to target America’s Jewish community. As we have witnessed in past conflicts, there are direct security implications here in the U.S. for our houses of worship and other community spaces. This is a time to be vigilant,” SCN stated.

Referring to the recent anti-Semitic incidents, Fingerhut said Monday from Israel that he has been told by U.S. Jews that they are afraid to wear identification marks, like a kippah.

“I wear a kippah myself, and I know I look Jewish while walking on the street or in the airport. We will not allow this to become a permanent situation in America. Every Jew who wants to present his Judaism to the outside world, a kippah, jewelry, a T-shirt, should do it. We will do everything necessary to make Jews feel safe to do so,” he declared.

“We are taking all the necessary steps – we are building security plans, financing security plans, working with local and federal governments, making sure they come out against anti-Semitism, and we are also bringing a delegation of senior members of the Jewish leadership to Israel. We will ensure that the Jewish community continues to support Israel,” he vowed.

Despite the mounting anti-Semitism, the Jewish federations organized rallies in support of Israel during the days of the campaign in Gaza and insisted on the Jewish state’s right to defend itself. Events were held in Cleveland, New York, San Diego, and Seattle.

In addition, more than half a million shekels were raised and distributed through the Jewish Agency for emergency assistance to families whose homes were damaged by Hamas’ bombardment.