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United Jewish Federation of Utah worried people are 'desensitized' to antisemitism

Posted at 8:53 AM, Jan 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-16 12:39:38-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday's tense hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, where 4 people were taken hostage in a local synagogue during religious services, has raised concerns over the uptick in religious hate crimes in the United States over the past few years.

In a statement released Saturday night, the United Jewish Federation of Utah commended the FBI and local agencies for their handling of the situation, which saw all 4 hostages released safely. However, the statement makes note of a concerning trend.

"It should be acknowledged that we have become desensitized to the need of Jewish Synagogues and other Jewish organizations to have police or heightened security at their places of worship and gathering," the statement reads. "The events in Texas today must be seen in the context of an alarming multiyear rise in religious hate crimes against Jews across the USA."

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most recent data on hate crimes in the United States, there were 8,263 reports of hate crimes in 2020. 15% of those crimes were motivated by a bias towards a specific religion. Of those, approximately 55% were targeted towards the Jewish community, which account for almost 2% of the entire population of the United States according to the the Pew Research Center.

Between this hostage situation and the propagation of antisemitic conspiracy theories online, as seen with the recent fallout and resignation of former Entrata CEO David Bateman, the Federation stresses the need for more education on the danger and harm of antisemitism in the country.

"We call on our fellow Utahans not to remain silent to the antisemitism and ignorance that is simmering in our society. We must not remain as bystanders to those amongst us that exhibit hate to Jews or any minorities in our society," the statement continues. "The United Jewish Federation has been working for years to provide resources to our schools to teach about the holocaust, antisemitism and other forms of hate so that our youth have the tools to better recognize and combat Hate in any form."