Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise—Is Social Media Feeding Into The Hatred Of Jews?

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Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise—Is Social Media Feeding Into The Hatred Of Jews?

As many ultra-Orthodox Jewish families saw themselves unable to pay to reside in the increasingly expensive Brooklyn neighborhoods, they begin turning their eyes to the suburbs.  Here, for years, they have found open space, as well as cheaper housing.  As a result, they have established somewhat modern-day versions of the shtetls of Europe, living much as their ancestors had for centuries before the coming of the Holocaust.

These communities, which Hasidic's reside in, stretching from New York's Hudson Valley to the Catskills, and into Northern New Jersey, have seen flare-ups of rhetoric following them.  The rhetoric is aimed at the Hasidic community's development, that many say is actually cloaked in feelings of anti-Semitism.

After a pair of attacks, both of a violent nature, within the past few weeks, many are fearing that the intolerance is starting to boil over.

A man and woman killed a law enforcement officer on December 10 and afterward took refuge in a kosher grocery in Jersey City.  They proceeded to shoot and kill three patrons inside the supermarket, before they themselves, after a lengthy gunfight with police, were killed as well.  The incident reportedly happened in a neighborhood that had seen the recent relocation of Hasidic families.

Then, on this past Saturday, at a Hanukkah celebration, a man entered a rabbi's home in Monsey, New York, and proceeded to hack at people with a machete.  Of the attendees, five were reportedly wounded, with one still being said to be hospitalized. 

Federal prosecutors stated that the attacker that was charged with the attack had been found to have written journals that contained comments of anti-Semitic nature, as well as images of swastikas.  It was also stated that there was evidence that he had researched online about Hitler and his hatred of Jews.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a public meeting on Monday, in which Jewish leaders stated they blamed the recent increase in inflammatory rhetoric on social media.  They noted that social media, along with local elected officials, were creating an anti-Semitic atmosphere that is ripe for violence.

A local school board member, Joan Terrell-Paige, commented days after the Jersey City killings and labeled Jews as "brutes" on Facebook.  She added that in her opinion, the killers were, in fact, trying to send a message with their actions.  She then asked: "Are we brave enough to explore the answer to their message?"

Is it possible that social media comments, such as Terrell-Paige's, are only serving to fan the flames of hatred and dissent?