By LYNDON ZAITZ
The war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has ignited hate violence here in the United States. Incidents of anti-Semiticism have skyrocketed and some Palestinians and Muslims have also been targeted for violence by people with hatred in their hearts.
As Oscar Hammerstein II wrote in South Pacific, you’ve got to be carefully taught prejudice, which caused no shortage of controversy when it was first performed on stage in 1949. The message resonates still to this day. People are not born with prejudice or hatred in their hearts, it has to be taught.
Why are people taught to be prejudiced against Jews, Muslims and people of other races? Why are people taught to hate? It takes a lot of energy to act out on hatred.
As children we mirror what we see, especially at home. When prejudice and hatred of those different is normalized, many don’t question it. Young people don’t ask why we hate those people. These disgusting traits can never be defended.
We can never know what lingers in the hearts and minds of others. Sometimes those feelings seethe inside until something causes them to come spilling out in violent ways.
What happened in the life of the Chicago man who allegedly stabbed six-year-old Wadea Al Fayoune, a Muslim, to death? How was his hatred inflamed? The same question goes for the man who allegedly shot three Vermont college students of Palestinian lineage last week. That man will most likely face hate crime charges. State and federal hate crime statutes are pretty strong, but that is cold comfort to a grieving family.
There are media reports of the Israel-Hamas war resulting in many acts of violence against Jews or Palestinians or Muslims here in America.
Rallies in the United States by Israeli or Gaza supporters is the American way of protest. I would rather see people exhibiting their anger with placards and megaphones than knives and guns.
Victims targeted with prejudice and hatred are no different that the perpatrators: they have families they love, traditions they follow and jobs.
People have got to be carefully taught prejudice and hatred. Let us endeavor to teach something better.
(Lyndon Zaitz is editor and publisher of the Keizertimes.)