Chicago Jewish leaders want to shine light on antisemitism

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Chicago Jewish leaders want to shine light on antisemitism
Leaders in the local Jewish community said some Chicago protests are tinged with antisemitism, and want to draw attention to any hate or threats.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Leaders in Chicago's Jewish community came together Wednesday to shine a light on alleged antisemitism.

The leaders voiced their concerns about violence and the threat of violence after the October attack on Israel.

They said embedded in some rallies calling for cease-fire and humanitarian aid for people in Gaza is antisemitism.

"We stand in absolute unity when these groups and their supporters use Israel war, Israel's justified war with Hamas to bully, intimidate and instill fear in the Jewish community," said David Goldenberg, Anti-Defamation League Midwest regional director.

The ADL Midwest reports incidents of antisemitism up 360% around Chicago after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

They point to an attack of a Jewish man earlier this month at a Logan Square movie premiere about the Hamas attack on Israel and some of the comments when the city's only Jewish alderperson called for a resolution condemning the Hamas attack.

The ADL reports most of the reported incidents are harassment, vandalism and assault that do not rise to the legal definition of a hate crime, and that many of the targets are young people, sometimes by social media and in-person.

"I physically was attacked on the street when a man who got close enough to see my Star of David necklace; he pushed me, yelled and tried to do worse before being stopped by someone else, giving me the chance to run away," Chicago college student Kylie Miller said.

Nationally, the FBI found an increase in hate crimes even before the Israel-Hamas war.

The FBI reported 2022 had more hate crime offenses than the previous years in the five-year FBI review.

Locally, Chicago police are investigating a possible hate crime at a mosque on State Street that happened Sunday.

During Wednesday's Loop press conference with Jewish leaders, they asked all to report and speak up if they see antisemitism.

"We must combat hate together. We must educate students to identify and stand up against online hate speech, which is critical for the future of respect, tolerance and peaceful coexistence," said Alison Pure-Slovin, Midwest director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.