When fear is the motive, we are all victims
To understand the type of hate that inspires vandalizing of a Jewish Synagogue on the first day of Hanukkah, we must first understand the plight of Jewish people over the last century, especially during World War II.
The Nazi swastika, the flag of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, is perhaps the most caustic symbol known to man. It represents a dark time in history when Germany became an imperialist power – fueled in the end by racism and anti-Semitism – and stepped on the people of Europe, committing a generation of Jews to genocide as part of Hitler’s vision of conquest.
It is estimated that 6 million Jews were put to death in Eastern European death camps; gassed, shot and tortured in an attempt to eliminate an entire race of people. A brave resistance, during which scores of allied and American soldiers died, finally ended Germany’s march across Europe. But not before the world had witnessed inhumanity at its worst.
That is why it is so disturbing to see the swastika in our own community. It is not just a symbol of hate of the Jewish race, it is a symbol for hate of the human race. Americans, Jewish and otherwise, spilled blood on European battlefields to rid the world of the likes of Hitler. And still, for some, a twisted admiration for Hitler and what he stood for remains – evidence that while most people are inherently good, inhumanity still rears its ugly head.
The vandal(s) who painted swastikas and “Die Jew” on the Temple Bat Yam and around town this week are engaged in fear mongering. They want to make our town’s Jewish residents, and perhaps others, afraid in our own community. It is a despicable act with an even more despicable motivation. That is why it is more than simple vandalism. It is intimidation.
Of course our law enforcement and the FBI will follow all available leads to bring the criminal or criminals who did this to justice. But as a community we must show solidarity with the victims of this crime. South Tahoe’s Jewish community is small, but we are all duty bound to fight the ideology that fuels anti-Semitism.
When a crime of this nature is committed against one of us, it is committed against all of us.