BY LAURA KRUG
Dr. Patricia Levy, professor of Diversity at Fort Hays spoke on Wednesday afternoon for the American Democracy Project’s third Times Talk of the semester. She informed the gathering on the causes of antisemitism in America and how it is a problem for the Jewish people that has persisted for centuries. In a time where prejudice can exist almost anywhere, Levy reminds FHSU students that they can fight against hate with advocacy.
“In 2019, over half of all hate crimes have targeted Jews in this country. But people are not aware of what is really going on,” Levy said. She insisted that all American citizens, whether or not they are Jewish should be concerned. “I think you should care because Americans in our Democracy should not be silent about injustice,” Levy said.
Levy has had over 30-years of experience in social work and has published a paper on the psychology of terrorism; as a Jewish American she has experienced discrimination first hand. She has also been impacted by the Holocaust; some of her Polish relatives were victims and she has helped survivors during her time as a social worker.
Levy outlined several main theories on why antisemitism exists. The first was the modern nation-state theory; it states that Jewish people are seen as a threat to countries’ national unity due to their identity. Since the Jewish people identify as the chosen nation of God, they are seen as a threat to other non-Jews since they have divine favor. For the in-group favoritism theory, Jewish people are seen as outsiders by others for their national identity and therefore discriminated against. Finally, religious tensions exist for Jews since some Christians have the misconception that the Jewish people are responsible for Jesus’s death.
Today, antisemitism is alive and well in many aspects of American society, both on the political right and on the left. “Alt-Right” groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and neo-Confederates spread nationwide racism and target Jewish people. On the radical Left, Anti-Zionism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) are exclusionary towards Jews in America.
“No healthy society harbors extensive antisemitism or any other form of hatred, ” Levy said, quoting Deborah Lipstadt.
She urged listeners to not remain silent in the face of injustice, no matter what the consequences may be.
“Please, If you see discrimination going on in front of you- do something,” Levy said, concluding the presentation.
Odalis Jimenez is the American Democracy Coordinator who organized the event. The ADC’s next topic for the Times Talk will be “The Business of Being the Chosen One: Evangelicals’ Unwavering support for President Trump,” presented by Dr. Gregory Atkins. It will take place on February 25th at 12-1 pm in the Forsyth Library commons. Times Talks are held weekly at noon in the Forsyth Library commons.