We were deeply disturbed to see a swastika sign and other Nazi imagery appear at protests outside the Illinois statehouse last week. Public displays of antisemitism have been common at recent rallies attacking local and state governments for their stay-at-home orders. It is particularly heinous to flaunt a swastika vilifying our state’s Jewish governor J.B. Pritzker.
This incident is emblematic of the ways that white nationalists and far-right actors wield antisemitic conspiracy theories to disguise the real sources of blame and injustice. As we face continued economic and social disruptions brought on by the pandemic, those in power will weaponize age-old tropes of collusive and manipulative Jews to redirect public scrutiny and isolate Jews from other communities targeted by white nationalism. (For a comprehensive look into examples of right-wing antisemitism during COVID-19, check out Bend the Arc’s important new project.)
JCUA’s longstanding mission calls on us to combat antisemitism in partnership with diverse communities of Chicago. Along with conducting JCUA member training on the intersections of antisemitism and white nationalism, we are laying the groundwork to share our analysis and insights with community and institutional partners in Chicago. We are also engaging with local and national Jewish social justice organizations around strategies to confront antisemitism.
We at JCUA together with our members understand that we get through these challenges by forging relationships of solidarity. Our safety is tied up with the safety of all other communities targeted by white supremacist hate and discrimination. That’s why we’re working with the Right to Recovery coalition to ensure that people who are hit hardest by the pandemic have the power, resources and opportunities to recover and flourish. We invite your continued participation and engagement in this urgent work.