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April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
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It’s My Opinion: Numbers Can Lie

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The Anti-Defamation League recently released its annual report on anti-Semitic incidents reported in Florida. The audit seemed like good news. Numbers for these occurrences were down in Florida for the fourth consecutive year and, even better, the ADL reported a decade-long decline in reported anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States.

It is quite startling that this report exists alongside the vitriolic anti-Israel hate campaign endemic throughout America today. The movement is especially entrenched on college campuses. Florida schools as well as college and university campuses all over the United States are involved.

The crusade is funded by several Muslim organizations. One of the groups, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), is backed by American Muslims for Palestine, based in Chicago, and focused on coordinating anti-Israel activities on campuses throughout America.

Programs to spread the propaganda include Israeli Apartheid Week and Israeli Occupation Awareness Week. Various events promote Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities aimed at the Jewish state. Shunning of Israeli scholars and professors is yet another aspect of this sordid scheme.

The goal of the crusade is to demonize and hurt Israel. It seeks to divest funds from Israeli companies and American companies that do business with the Jewish state. It seeks to delegitimize Israel and have it seen as a pariah. It continues the tactic of “the big lie.”

Jewish students and student groups have been subjected to a caustic atmosphere of raw hostility and intimidation. Many feel unsafe. Often, members of Hillel, Jewish fraternities and other Jewish-oriented campus organizations are overwhelmed, harassed and kept from presenting their views.

Anti-Israel representatives slide into age-old canards. The imagery of Jews as baby killers, power hungry and thirsting for world domination creates the notion that violence is justified against Jews and their state. Speakers for the Muslim Student Association praise Hamas and Hizbullah and advocate for terrorism against Israel and her people.

One of the biggest lessons of the Shoah is that Jews need to be ever vigilant. The worldwide Jewish community was not conscious of the extent of the peril that lurked. When Jews finally woke up, it was too late.

The usual hate crimes documented by the ADL involve acts of flagrant anti-Semitism. They include property being defaced by swastikas and the open distribution of Nazi literature. This year a unique activity was added to the list of ADL complaints: A rotting package of ham was left in front of a Jewish Community Center in Tavernier, Florida. It seemed to be ill intended but hardly dangerous. Some instances of anti-Semitism are more insidious than others.

Anti-Semitism in current times is often hidden under the guise of a political/ ideological rift with Zionism. Do not be fooled. The virulent hatred spewed at the Jewish state and its Jewish population is the same Anti-Semitism that has existed for untold ages. It is now wrapped in a different package called anti-Zionism and becoming widely accepted. It is a danger.

The statistics might be terrific but the truth is not. If anything, the atmosphere of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric has escalated. Data can be misleading. Numbers can lie.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.


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