Introduction xiii from the Left and the Right are actually very similar. Antisemitism in general manifests as conspiracy theories. But if we spend our time saying that antisemitism is worse ‘over there,’ then we don’t actually have to deal with it in our own spaces.” The changing and volatile nature of antisemitism and its varying mani- festations, both over time and simultaneously at this juncture in history, can be confusing and frightening, particularly for adolescents and emerg- ing adults. To be at a life stage of trying to figure out where you stand in relation to your faith and cultural identity in the first place,10 and then to have a sense of attack, can fundamentally shape the lifelong relationship that this generation will have with Judaism. Whether they will lean fur- ther into it, pull away, or find new ways to relate to their Jewish identities, the growing shape-shifting specter of antisemitism is an undeniable factor in the Jewish experience of American Jewish life. It can manifest as microaggressions that may not even be recognized as antisemitism at the moment. Bailey, a college student, counts among her first Jewish memo- ries being given the elementary school art project of making Christmas stockings and knowing that it wasn’t something that her family or her faith had a practice of. But she was told by the teacher that it wasn’t “religious” and had her discomfort invalidated. “From an early age, it felt like I was being told that it was impossible to belong because the community I was in was set up in a way that inherently excluded me because of my iden- tity.” Rebecca, a Texan whom we will hear from again later, also has childhood memories of antisemitism, though her experiences were of a more direct nature than Bailey’s. “I grew up hearing kids tell me that I was going to go to hell [because I don’t believe in Jesus]. I always have to have the last word, so I’d be sarcastic and say, ‘Yeah, I have to reclaim my throne.’ I never let them see that it hits me. It absolutely does, and it hurts, and tears are shed, but I never let them see it. If they see my reaction to it, then they win.” It has been said that hatred of Jews is the most acceptable form of hatred toward other people. And the unfortunate reality is that hatred as a whole is on the rise in the United States. According to data collected from 6,506 institutions of higher education by the U.S. Department of Education, the number of reported hate incidents on campuses increased from 74 in 2006 to 1,300 in 2016.11 Vandalism and intimidation account for 76 percent of these reported incidents. The most well-known and infamous incident of hatred on a college campus is elements of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which ultimately left one individual dead.
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