FIU Tuesday Table Talk Rounds Up the Rising Issue of Antisemitism

Photo via FIU Flickr

Andres Davilas | Contributing Writer

As part of the Holocaust & Genocide Awareness Week, FIU’s Office of Global Learning Initiatives dedicated Jan 24, Tuesday’s Time Roundtable to the rising issue of antisemitism in the United States. 

This table talk was crucial as antisemitic incidents have been on the rise, with almost 3,000 incidents occurring in 2021.

In this talk, there were three main speakers: Dr. Oren Stier, the director of the FIU Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program, Dr. Samuel M. Edelman, the executive director of the Academic Council for Israel and Danielle Yablonka, a Jewish influencer and activist and current communications student at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). 

The panel consisted of the speakers sharing their personal anecdotes of antisemitism, as well as its history in the United States.

Yablonka mentioned her personal anecdote of receiving hate messages on social media after she protested a group displaying the banner “#YeisRight”, in reference to Kanye West’s antisemitic tweets. 

“Because of free speech, they were allowed to have that, which scares me,” Yablonka emphasized.

Dr. Stier connected Yablonka’s story with how the power of a celebrity can have so much influence that people will respond in similar manners, connecting with Dr. Edelman on the history of antisemitism originating from Christians attacking the principles of Judaism because it deviates from the principles of Christianity.

Transitioning from history, Dr. Edelman reassured that antisemitism happens on both sides of the political spectrum, which also contributes to discrimination against other minority groups. He emphasized that this is due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a contributing factor to the rise of antisemitism recently. 

“Antisemitism can–and has–occurred on both sides of the spectrum, which also creates more polarization coming to other forms of discrimination, such as racism,” said Dr. Edelman.

The talk switched to more personal stories, in which Yablonka mentioned another experience when a couple of boys in a high school summer program drew a swastika on an Israeli flag, an experience that left her emotional about how people are afraid of practicing their religion or expressing anything related to Israel.

“I felt terrible,” Yablonka described the incident as she recalls the incident.

At the end of the panel, Dr. Stier asked a final question: “What can we do?”

Yablonka heavily stressed learning about the issues of antisemitism, how to recognize the signs of antisemitism, and contributing to calling out colleagues on antisemitic comments, regardless if you are Jewish or not. 

“Continue to educate yourself on antisemitism and call out people on any comments. Not doing that just adds more to the problem,” Yablonka emphasized.

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