Antisemitism won't go away unless people start to care

Advocating against hate cannot be selective

Carly wants more action against antisemitism.
Photo by Curtis Heinzl

This article includes descriptions of antisemitism and may be triggering for some readers. The Peer Support Centre offers drop-in services and empathetic peer-based support and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Online services can be accessed here.

We are tired. 

We are tired of being the only ones who stand up for ourselves, we are tired of fighting this battle alone, and we are tired of nothing changing.

Antisemitism has been around for centuries and is constantly changing as the world globalizes. However, one thing remains constant: Jewish people are the only ones doing anything about it. 

We are tired of being the only ones advocating for our community’s rights, safety, and wellbeing. 

The working definition of antisemitism is, “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism as directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Antisemitism began long before the Holocaust. Long before the modern era, the most common manifestation of antisemitism were pogroms, violent riots aimed at massacring or expelling the Jewish people. These pogroms were frequently encouraged by government authorities, adding a political dimension to the religious-based hatred we still see today.

Founded in 1919, the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler gained popularity by spreading anti-Jewish propaganda. Throughout the Holocaust, the Nazis would depict Jews as “hook-nosed, thick-lipped, money-grabbing, Talmud-reading, maiden-defiling,” spreading conspiracies like the Jewish population preparing to take over Germany or controlling the world’s banks.

The most aggressive manifestation of antisemitism was the killing of six million Jews. However, those who believe antisemitism ended with the Holocaust are wrong. 

Today, we see acts of antisemitism online, such as in tweets by Kanye West, who has more followers on Twitter than there are Jews in the world. We’ve also seen physical acts of antisemitism in our own city, Kingston. 

On Oct. 1, someone drew a swastika on a fridge in one of the lounges inside the new Albert Street Residence. Just a couple weeks later, two students found two separate examples of antisemitic graffiti on Princess Street.  

Queen’s claims it's committed to addressing forms of racism and discrimination, and the Kingston Police have been alerted on the incidences of antisemitic graffiti. However, nothing has changed. Jews are still the target of hate and only our community is doing something about it. 

Queen’s is full of students who care about the well-being of others. There are EDII workshops offered to both staff and students, rallies in support of one cause or another, and an outstanding number of student advocates on social media. 

As amazing as all of this effort is, antisemitism is always left out. 

With the prevalence of performative activism or sharing an Instagram story to look "woke," it’s hard not to feel worthless when everyone advocates for everything and everyone but us. 

We don’t want fake allies or empty promises, but there's something to be said for the lack of engagement from non-Jewish people in our time of need. When the only people talking about antisemitism are Jewish, it makes our issues feel unimportant.

The Jewish community survives off resilience, tradition, and pride. Jewish students at Queen’s participate in Jewish clubs such as Hillel Kingston, Queen’s Hillel, and Save a Child’s Heart, just to name a few.

We have Jewish students working at Beth Israel Congregation, teaching young Jewish children about our traditions, rituals, and the Hebrew language. We have Jewish students hosting potluck Shabbat meals with over 30 people in attendance—both Jewish and non-Jewish. 

The Jewish students at Queen’s are invested in the Jewish community. We are dedicated to ensuring the survival of our community because it's worth saving, but sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones who truly believe that. 

No matter how proud I am of the Jewish people and the community we've built for ourselves, I must admit I’m also tired. My dad once told me “it is not easy to be Jewish” and I've never forgotten that. He was right; it’s not easy being Jewish, but it’s worth every battle. 

If you're reading this and you’re Jewish, I see you. I understand that you're tired, maybe even scared, but know this is a battle worth fighting.

If you're not Jewish, reflect on what you're doing to help our community. If the answer is nothing, check in with your Jewish friends or share your support. Keep reading articles like this and stay informed about how Jewish people are feeling. 

It’s time to start including Jewish people in your advocacy. You can never be selective about advocating against hate. 


Carly is a first-year MA student in Religious Studies. 

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