U.S. bishops condemn ‘deeply troubling’ rise in anti-Semitism

Archbishop Jose Gomez, USCCB 2019 spring meeting / Kate Veik/CNA

Washington D.C., May 26, 2021 / 11:01 am (CNA).

Leading U.S. bishops on Wednesday decried a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, and called for prayers.

“The recent rise in antisemitic attacks across the nation is deeply troubling,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop David Talley of Memphis stated on Wednesday. Archbishop Gomez is the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), and Bishop Talley is the chair of the USCCB ecumenical and interreligious affairs committee.

“We cannot remain silent when we witness our brothers and sisters suffering on account of being Jewish, and we will never tire of our commitment to decry every form of hatred, especially those formed in contempt of faith,” the bishops stated.

The Anti-Defamation League has reported a rise in incidents of anti-Semitism, with reports of Jews in the United States being physically attacked by people yelling anti-Semitic slurs.

Some members of Congress also wrote President Biden on May 25, asking for a “united, all-of-government effort to combat rising antisemitism in this country,” in a letter reported by Punchbowl News.

They cited recent incidents including a Jewish man being attacked in Times Square by a group of people yelling anti-Semitic slurs, and a pro-Palestinian group in Los Angeles attacking restaurant diners while using anti-Semitic slurs.

“Jews across the United States are facing an extraordinarily tense environment of fear and insecurity,” they wrote.

The bishops, in their letter, called for dialogue and a “culture of encounter” as preached by Pope Francis, condemning violence.

“We remain steadfast in the promise of the Second Vatican Council to decry ‘all hatred, persecutions, and manifestations of antisemitism directed against the Jews at any time by anyone’,” the bishops said, quoting Nostra Aetate, the declaration of the Second Vatican Council on the relation of the Church with non-Christian religions.

“Our prayers are with those who have been harmed. May all people of good will unite in fostering a culture that rejects all forms of hatred, most especially antisemitism,” they said.

Both the Anti-Defamation League and the members of Congress noted that the surge in anti-Semitism occurred during the recent conflict in Israel and Gaza.

Israel and the Islamist militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, reached a cease-fire agreement last week after 11 days of conflict; Hamas fired rockets into Israel, while Israel’s military conducted airstrikes on targets in Gaza, including residences.

“It is undeniable that this increase in antisemitic incidents has coincided with recent conflict in the Middle East,” the members stated.

“It must be made clear that there is simply no excuse whatsoever for harassing or targeting people because they are Jewish. Blaming Jews for conflict in the Middle East or seeking to hold them collectively responsible for Israel’s government policies is antisemitic, and it is wrong,” they said.

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