Antisemitism in Context
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Holiday Weekend Sees Several Antisemitic Acts in the Sunshine State
At least three antisemitic incidents occurred in Florida over Labor Day weekend: one in Wellington, another at Disney World just outside of Orlando and a third at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs.
In Wellington, antisemitic pamphlets blaming the Jews for the COVID-19 pandemic were scattered around the city. This is hardly the first time such flyers have appeared on Floridians’ lawns overnight (in 2023 alone, similar instances occurred in January, in Orange County, and in April, in St. Petersburg.) In Wellington, the plastic bags holding the flyers also included small “mystery pellets” resembling a type of animal feed, or perhaps a fertilizer. Comments on the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook post detailing the incident claimed that these pellets are used to weigh the bags down as they are tossed onto lawns or driveways from cars.
Meanwhile, white nationalists were gathering their forces and making their way to Disney World. The Order of the Black Sun, the Aryan Freedom Network and the National Socialist Movement had about 15 representatives at a short-lived demonstration outside the famous theme park. Demonstrators praised Hitler, yelled “Jews will not replace us!” and performed the Nazi salute. The gathering disbanded after two hours and did not result in any arrests.
Some 25 miles away, in Altamonte Springs, another small collection of red-clad neo-Nazis and white nationalists banded together carrying swastika flags and chanting, “We are everywhere,” as they circled the park. Sarah Emmons, the ADL’s Florida regional director, said in a statement after the incidents, “We cannot allow for hate and extremist beliefs to become normalized in our society.”
Ireland, August 22, 2023
Recently, a small town in the far northwest of the Republic of Ireland was shocked to discover antisemitic graffiti. Located at the convergence of Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay, Belmullet is a town of only 1,000. In late August, the town was outraged and disgusted by a swastika and racial slurs that had been painted onto the window of a doctor’s office as well as on a nearby bench. It is not known if the doctor is Jewish. Authorities quickly removed the offensive messages.
Switzerland, September 2, 2023
The University of Lucerne in Lucerne, Switzerland, is hiring a Jewish Studies professor but will only be accepting Catholic applicants, as has been its practice in the past. Their justification is that the Jewish Studies professorship is within the Department of Theology, which is affiliated with the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church and thus only permits those with a background in Catholicism (e.g. a doctorate in Catholic theology) to become faculty in the department. Jackie Hajdenberg of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency recently wrote that the department “prohibits non-Catholic professors from teaching ‘doctrinal’ courses such as philosophy, liturgy, scripture, Catholic theology and fundamental theology. That includes teaching about non-Christian religions like Judaism.” One solution, says professor emeritus Alfred Bodenheimer, would be to nestle Jewish Studies into the Department of Philosophy, where there are no faith-based requirements for faculty. Bodenheimer, who is Jewish and worked at the University from 1997 to 2003, realized that his career opportunities at the University of Lucerne would be limited by the Department of Theology’s strict rules around non-Catholic faculty and moved to the more accepting University of Basel. In Lucerne, until Bodenheimer’s suggested solution (or something similar) is accepted by the university, the position will remain open to Catholics only.
Hungary, September 6, 2023
János Lázár, Hungary’s construction and transportation minister, praised Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s leader during World War II and an ally of Adolf Hitler, during a speech at a celebration marking the 30th anniversary of Horthy’s reburial, calling him “a true Hungarian patriot.” Lázár is not the only Hungarian official to have publicly shown support for Horthy’s legacy: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called Horthy an “exceptional statesman” during a speech in 2017. In a social media post, David Pressman, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary, wrote, “The United States is concerned by the participation of a senior Orbán government official in efforts to rehabilitate and promote [Horthy’s] brutal legacy.” Israel’s ambassador to Hungary also posted on X (formerly Twitter) shortly after the incident, saying that Lázár’s glorification of Horthy “has no place in a modern Hungary.”
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