The Desensitization to Antisemitism in America

America thought we left the war against antisemitism in 1945; we were wrong.


Photo by Mattia Ascenzo on Unsplash

We must stop the virus of hate.

A screenshot of the antisemitic comments under a Jewish Tiktoker’s post
A swastika drawn inside of my yearbook freshman year.

Marches in Charlottesville. Bomb threats. Tombstones overturned in Missouri. Vandalism. Assault. Shootings in buildings of worship. When hearing about acts of terrorism such as these, what groups of people do we think are targeted? Minorities such as POC, religious, and ethnic minorities are victims to hate crimes similar to those. However, there is a group of people we do not expect to fall victim to hate crimes; people of Jewish ethnicity and religion. Although the Holocaust occurred nearly 100 years ago, antisemitism did not die with Hitler. Instead, antisemitism has manifested its way into other sectors of the world, one place being the United States.

Antisemitism is hostility or prejudice against people of Jewish ethnicity and religion. In America, hate crimes against Jews have increased rapidly, however, it is receiving minimal media coverage. The small number of reports on antisemitism is not making headlines, and collecting data on the topic is difficult. Only 0.2% of people in the world are Jewish due to the Holocaust, which ended in 1945. Not only are there a small number of Jews in the world, but there is a lack of Jewish portrayal in media. However, Jewish representation has improved with celebrities David Dobrick, Madison Beer, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Zac Efron, Doja Cat, Drake, and more. In television shows and movies, if there is a Jewish character, their central personality trait is being Jewish and fitting the Jewish stereotype. Qualities that are accentuated in Hollywood are parents who are bankers, wealth, curly hair, and big noses, which is only contributing to the stereotype placed upon Jews. These stereotypes are hurtful to breaking the stigma around Jewish people, especially the stereotype of Jews being money-hungry.

A text message of a swastika (an emoji that should not exist).
A message written inside my seventh-grade yearbook.

As reported in Dissent Magazine (see website below for further information), in America, hate crimes against Jewish people have been increasing rapidly with a 12% jump and over 2,100 antisemitic acts in the past year. In New York City, more than half of the reported hate crimes were directed at Jews. In 2019, there were 1,127 reports of harassment, 919 acts of vandalism, and 61 cases of assault. Hate crimes, harassment, and battery were reported in every state, but Alaska and Hawaii. The following states had nearly 45% of all antisemitism cases in the United States: New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

Antisemitism does not always go to the extent of bombing or assault. Name-calling and Holocaust joke fall under the category of antisemitism, even if they’re meant to be perceived as entertaining. Why is antisemitism normalized and tolerated? Since there is a small number of Jews in America, there is not a large number of people affected such jokes. “I was called a k*ke in sixth grade and told my entire family should have died in the Holocaust.” an anonymous source reports. “I’ve even had swastikas drawn on my items and the Heil Hitler salute made at me.”

For the protection of Jews across America, we must de-normalize and raise awareness about antisemitism. Hate crimes and offensive jokes will only perpetuate if action is not taken to educate Americans about the harmful effects of antisemitism.

For more information, visit these websites:

Why Anti-Semitism Is on the Rise in the United States