The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Donald Trump and The Rise in Anti-Semitism

Donald Trump and The Rise in Anti-Semitism

In the fall, a swastika was found drawn in one of WIS’s school bathrooms. At the time this seemed like an isolated incident, but in reality, anti-Semitic hate crimes have been on the rise in schools all over the United States since the beginning of the year, following Trump’s campaign and election.

Since 2016, the amount of threats, vandalisms and harassments against Jewish people have risen by 106 percent in schools and 86 percent in the entire nation, according to the Washington Times. These are astonishing statistics, and you can’t help but wonder why. Thinking about the major changes which have occurred since 2016 and affected the entire nation, there’s one that stands out, the campaign and election of Donald Trump. In regards to Trump and his influence on the current generation, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, says in recent news article “We are very concerned the next generation is internalizing messages of intolerance and bigotry.”  

Although these statistics may seem distant and broad, they can be applied in our own school and communities. According to the Washington Post, incidents in Montgomery county schools of anti-Semitic graffiti have become much more frequent. In a one month span this year, there have been eight reported incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti in Montgomery County public schools, which is truly appalling compared to the six reported in all of 2015, and a swastika was found drawn in one of our own school bathrooms in the beginning of the year. One of the missions of WIS is to create a safe environment for every student who goes here, so what is it about the Trump administration which has allowed this to be jeopardized in schools and workplaces all around the country, as well as in our own?

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Sometimes when people read things in the news or see them on TV, they tend to distance themselves from that event and say to themselves “well that would never happen in my community or to my friends,” but this is a real issue that’s occurring here, in the DMV, and is affecting real people who go to our own school.

Zoe Abel, a ninth-grade student at WIS, is one example of how students in our own community are being directly affected by the rise in anti-Semitic violence. Zoe talks about how in her own Jewish community center, things have changed since the establishment of the Trump administration. “I’ve even noticed that when I take my brother and sister to Hebrew school on Wednesdays, there are security guards outside. You have to check in, and I have to wear a security badge when I’m in the building, working at my Hebrew school, because they need to make sure that they know who you are at all times.” Zoe’s community center is one of the Jewish centers which have received bomb threats in DC in the last few months and as a result, their security has increased.

Incidents which have been currently in the news have been the vandalisms of Jewish cemeteries. The two main occurrences happened within one week, Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. On Feb. 18, 150 headstones were overturned in Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery, located in St Louis. The land for the cemetery was purchased in 1893 by Jewish immigrants from Russia, who were hoping to establish a sacred place for Jewish people to be buried. One week later on the 25th, the report came in that more than 100 tombstones had been vandalized in Mt Carmel Cemetery in northeastern Philadelphia. This was also a Jewish cemetery, but it was located right across the street from a Christian cemetery, called Cedar Hill cemetery. The Christian cemetery was left untouched.

Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetary – photograph taken by Robert Cohen

When asked about whether he had heard about the vandalisms of cemeteries, ninth-grader Alejandro Gonzalez answers passionately, “Well I’ve heard in the news about people coming into Jewish cemeteries and destroying the headstones, which I think is really disrespectful and I don’t know if it has anything to do with the Trump administration but it’s crazy that this is still happening in the 21st century when I thought we were over it.”

These two incidents have caused an uproar of anger and sadness from the Jewish community, but have also deeply affected many other types of people. Jews, Christians and atheists have all shown their support for the two cemeteries, but it has been the Muslim-American community who have most actively provided aid. Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi, two Muslim-American activists, organized a fundraiser to repair the damage caused in St. Louis. Their budgetary goal was $20,000, but they ended up raising $130,000, which they used to repair the tombstones in Mt. Carmel one week later, according to CNN.

Besides the overturning of Jewish gravestones, many Jewish schools and community centers around the U.S. have received anonymous bomb threats. According to CNN, there have been over one hundred bomb threats called in since January. Of these one hundred, a threat was called into Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, a school that WIS students regularly travel to for various sporting events. These threats could be dismissed by the fact that no one has ever been physically hurt by them, but the reality is that hundreds of parents and children are living in perpetual fear that the threat will one day transform into a reality.

Donald Trump – photograph taken by Gage Skidner

Teachers and psychologists all over the US have reported that they believe the rise in anti-Semitism among the younger generation has been created by Donald Trump and his influence on the normalization of hatred against minority groups. This normalization of hatred is not attributed to one specific thing that Trump has said, or tweeted, but instead is the result of the culminationof all his different speeches. The most prominent example of this is his promise of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The wall that Donald Trump has promised to build represents all of the messages which young students are internalizing, such as stereotyping, hatred and ethnic based exclusion, as well as the notion that America is only for “Americans”.

Another example is Trump’s basic lack of respect for women. During his campaign and presidency, Trump has continuously portrayed his obvious lack of respect for women through comments made on twitter as well as on tv and in press releases. One of the comments made by Trump which infuriated women all over the world occurred after Fox News presenter, Megyn Kelly, grilled Trump during an interview. On a televised  brief of the interview, Trump suggested that the reason Kelly was asking such difficult questions was because she was menstruating. The Huffington Post quotes Trump saying, “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” This clearly demonstrates the fundamental lack of respect that Trump has for women.

Trump’s hate and disrespect is normalizing anti-Semitism all over the country. It is specifically affecting schools, as teenagers feel emboldened to perform hate crimes against their peers. The victimization of Jews is not the only issue. People of different races, ethnicities, genders and sexualities feel persecuted in Trump’s new administration. After seeing his impact over the past few months, we must ask ourselves, is Trump really making America great again?

                                                                                                          – By Lily Coll

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