Anti-Semitism on the Rise in the Bay Area


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Michael Francisco, CONTRIBUTOR

Antisemitic groups and incidents have been on the rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, causing concern among residents and local authorities. These groups promote hatred and discrimination against Jewish communities and have been known to engage in acts of violence and vandalism.
One such group is the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi organization that has been linked to several violent crimes across the country. The group promotes white supremacy and has been known to target Jews, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Another group that has been active in the Bay Area is the Proud Boys. While not explicitly antisemitic, this far-right group has been known to associate with white supremacist organizations and has been accused of promoting hate speech and violence. In 2019, members of the Proud Boys disrupted a talk by a Jewish author at a bookstore in Berkeley, causing damage to the store and assaulting several people.
In addition to these organized groups, there have also been incidents of antisemitism in high school and college campuses across the Bay Area. At UC Berkeley, for example, there have been several instances of swastikas and other antisemitic graffiti found on campus. In one particularly alarming incident in 2019, a Jewish student was assaulted on campus and told to “go back to Israel.”
Another recent incident involved a Hayward High School teacher who has been placed on leave after almost two months of cumulative complaints from parents, faculty, and students about his “Masterclass in Antisemitism.” The teacher, Henry Bens, allegedly gave a nazi salute during class and handed out pamphlets containing anti-semitic tropes.
These incidents left many members of the Bay Area Jewish community feeling frightened and vulnerable. In response, local organizations and leaders have been working to combat antisemitism and promote tolerance and understanding.
One such organization is the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of San Francisco. The JCRC works to build bridges between the Jewish community and other groups, and has been actively engaged in efforts to combat hate speech and hate crimes. They are also working with local law enforcement to ensure incidents of anti-semitism are properly investigated and prosecuted.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is also actively monitoring hate groups and working to promote tolerance and understanding in the Bay Area. They offer resources and support to victims and work with law enforcement to track and prosecute hate crimes.
Political leaders in the Bay Area have spoken out against antisemitism. In 2019, San Francisco Mayor London Breed signed a proclamation declaring her commitment to combating antisemitism and promoting tolerance and understanding. Other local officials, including State Senator Scott Wiener and Assembly member Phil Ting, have also spoken out against hate speech and hate crimes.
While the rise of antisemitic groups in the Bay Area is a cause for concern, there is hope that the community can come together to combat hate and promote understanding. Through the efforts of organizations like the JCRC and the ADL, as well as the leadership of local officials, the Bay Area can continue to be a welcoming and inclusive place for all people.