To the Editor,
After reading the Commentary regarding "Antisemitism in our Backyards" in the April edition of The Jewish Observer, I feel compelled to write the first letter to an editor that I've ever written. The viewpoint expressed is that the "true cause for antisemitism" is a spiritual one - Jews not being religiously observant enough or respecting ourselves. This is unabashed victim blaming and it truly is antisemitism in our own backyard - it's a prime example of antisemitism spouted not by Nazis or white supremacists, but by Jews themselves.
While I can understand calling on Jews to be more spiritual and observant, linking that in any way as a cause of or solution for antisemitism is offensive and dangerously misleading. My grandmother and her siblings weren't murdered by Nazis because they didn't want to pay for kosher meat or buy new Tefillin. If someone hurls an antisemitic slur at me, a secular Jew, it's not because I don't regularly light Shabbat candles and it's certainly not because I have a lack of respect for myself.
Part of combating hate of all kinds includes education and calling out hate speech and antisemitic rhetoric whenever it occurs. Antisemitism in Nazi Germany or Nashville in 2023 has nothing to do with any Jew's faith or observance, but everything to do with the mindset of the perpetrators -- rooted in fear, a desire for power, or other motives that will never have any connection to my spirituality. Any suggestion otherwise is making excuses for hate groups and cannot go unchallenged.