Column Trivializes Anti-Semitism Threat

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Article reprinted with permission from The Plain Dealer.

Letter to the Editor: Kevin O'Brien's column trivializes real threat of anti-Semitism

Kevin O'Brien's Friday column, "Unserious questions, serious answers about anti-Semitism," made assertions that demand our response.

He attempts to trivialize bomb threats to Jewish institutions. Calling in a bomb threat to institutions targeted for their religious affiliation is not a "stupid stunt." These are deliberate attempts to terrorize the Jewish community. There have been 69 bomb threats called in to 54 Jewish community centers in 27 states just recently. These actions are meant to cause fear and anxiety. The perpetrators of these bomb threats are not "knuckleheads." They are criminals.

Contrary to the column's assertion, concerns about anti-Semitism have not been "hanging around for months" because it "must focus-group well." Concerns about anti-Semitism have persisted because there actually has been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents. Did Mr. O'Brien miss the recent coverage of the extensive vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis?

We applaud the media for continuing to raise the national consciousness on this issue that is important to not only the Jewish community but to all those who stand against hate.

Mr. O'Brien's column argues that anti-Semitism remains politically incorrect. Yet, it's only by exposing anti-Semitism that we can prevent it from being normalized. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

When we trivialize hate, hate wins.

Stephen H. Hoffman, Anita Gray and Lee C. Shapiro,

Stephen H. Hoffman is president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Anita Gray is regional director in Cleveland of the Anti-Defamation League. Lee C. Shapiro is director of the American Jewish Committee's Cleveland regional office.

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