At this point, the cycle is depressingly familiar: right out in the open in America, a place we thought we were finally safe, is a swastika, or a directive to kill or gas the Jews. It’s reported to the police, it makes the news. That’s the last we hear of it, and the cycle repeats.
In the first of a two-part series, the Jewish Journal has examined why just 18 percent of the 788 hate crimes that took place in Massachusetts between 2016 and 2018 resulted in any arrests. Our report concluded that the reason for this low conviction rate is twofold: it’s often hard to find any suspects in acts of vandalism because there are rarely any witnesses, and even when a suspect is identified, it is hard to convict them of a hate crime without proving a motive of racial or religious bias.
It’s easy to feel powerless and frustrated. But there are a few things that you can do in your own life to respond.
First, the Jewish community needs to continue to meet with law enforcement and elected officials in order to improve their methods of catching and convicting these perpetrators. We need to remind them that the Jewish community feels vulnerable, and they need to keep doing everything within their power to prevent this hatred.
Second, learn all you can about the history of anti-Semitism, and what you can do when confronted with it. This Sunday, the ADL will hold a forum at the Newton Marriott on exactly this topic – just one of a number of existing resources.
Third, continue to advocate for comprehensive Holocaust and anti-bias training in our schools. Call your representatives and ask them to vote in favor of the Genocide Education Act, a bill currently before the Massachusetts legislature that would mandate genocide education in the state social studies curriculum.
And finally, remain fiercely, proudly Jewish. Too many people are trying to make your Judaism a source of fear: instead, let it add joy and meaning to your life.