The debate over whether religion unifies or divides is longstanding, and has many supporters on either side. While religion has the capacity to promote both community and violence, recently it seems that it is mainly fueling hate. According to a recent report published by the Kantor Center, more Jews were killed in anti-Semitic violence around the world in 2018 than during any other year in decades. The situation is most prominent in Western European countries — particularly in Germany, where the the Kantor Center recorded a 70% increase in violent anti-Semitism. Furthermore, anti-semitism is rising in the United States. A recently published survey revealed 238 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault targeting Jewish students on 118 college campuses across the U.S. Additionally, in New York, city police noted a 22% rise in violent anti-Semitic attacks, according to the report. Social network platforms, such as Twitter, have become channels of communication between extremists and racists.
In recent years there have been numerous attacks directed at the Jewish community. Most notable, was the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In this instance, a sacred space was targeted in order to inflict great pain and devastation to the community. According to Michael Berkowitz, the situation is “particularly volatile” in the U.S. “The combination of a gun culture and conspiracy theories, the extreme right-wing and white supremacy, has created a dangerous situation for Jews,” says Berkowitz. In the wake of increased violence, many members of the Jewish community are fearful and feel the need to increase protection at sacred spaces. This violence shows no indication of slowing down, so it is upon society to combat discrimination and hatred.