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Your Jewish neighbors hear you — your silence is deafening 

Elliot Malin
Elliot Malin

On Saturday, January 15th, during the Jewish sabbath, an armed gunman took hostage the rabbi and congregants of the Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. While many Jews around the country and world were cut off from communication because of Shabbat, they were immediately glued to their mobile devices and televisions once Shabbat had ended, yet again transfixed by yet another violent attack on the Jewish community on American soil. 

Over the last few years, hate crimes have steadily increased, especially for Black Americans and Asian-Americans. The Jewish community has stood in solidarity with these communities because they needed and deserved the support. Yet when a hate crime happens to Jewish-Americans, time and time again, we often hear — as we did last weekend — deafening silence.

Two years ago, many American Jews “blued out” their social media avatars with blue squares, just as they did with black squares to stand with their Black neighbors and friends in difficult times. But when Jews have needed such support, we have largely been alone. 


During the recent hostage situation and immediately after, three statewide elected officials, one of whom is Jewish, offered comments and support: U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen, Gov. Steve Sisolak — who issued a proclamation on Tuesday condemning antisemitism and standing with Nevada’s Jewish community — and Attorney General Aaron Ford. I appreciate that. I also appreciate members of Nevada law enforcement immediately springing into action last weekend to offer additional resources and patrols in and around Jewish institutions around the state. I also appreciate the community groups that did reach out to check in, especially those that offered immediate action to help protect and patrol our synagogues. 

Unfortunately, what I didn’t see (or hear) was many of those who have claimed to be our allies reaching out to us or actively showing they stand with us. I won’t name names, in order to keep from starting fresh hostilities, but suffice it to say that many groups and individuals the Jewish community has consistently supported did not show us support — publicly or otherwise.

Hate crimes against Jewish-Americans are the single largest share of religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States. This statistic doesn’t change year after year when released by the FBI. We have to have additional security to guard our synagogues, install bullet proof glass and cameras, and make sure someone is always watching those cameras. Police add to our patrols because they know we aren’t safe in our houses of worship. 

I yell into the void of Twitter constantly about antisemitism across the political spectrum, and yet no one who isn’t Jewish does much of anything to combat it.

All too often we hear people say, “We are only anti-Zionist; we don’t hate Jews.” Yet the hostage situation in Texas rested in “anti-Zionist” rhetoric, the same rhetoric projected by community leaders such as Louis Farrakhan and Zahra Billoo. When we point out antisemitism, we are told to sit down and let others speak because they only dislike Israel, not Jews. But when we are attacked, we hear silence from them. 

Standing against hate takes all of us standing together, fighting for one another — no matter religion, skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or any other identity marker. Jews should not be left out of our national fight for equality and mutual respect.

Elliot Malin is a member of the board for Jewish Nevada, lobbyist for the Anti-Defamation League and Glass-Institute Fellow.


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