First Amendment Right to Religious Freedom but not for Jew

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Many American Jews now are forced to alter their behavior, including worship practices, or risk assault by pro-Hamas mobs. 

The First Amendment no longer applies to the openly Jewish. As antisemitic rallies, chants, and violence skyrocket in the United States and the Biden administration shifts focus to Islamophobia, many Jews have been forced to take their safety into their own hands.

In America, rallies and other activities in support of the Hamas terrorist organization that are often met with little resistance or protection from local authorities and a neutral passing glance from political leaders and celebrities have driven many Jews to change how they travel, dress, and express their worship.

Columnist and commentator Bethany Mandel told The Daily Signal that her family was no longer allowing her kids to walk to synagogue without protection. 

Mandel said that she and several colleagues also have been forced to stop keeping the Sabbath in order to stay up to date on threats and to cover the Israel-Hamas war and its effects abroad.

Heritage Foundation research fellows Jason Bedrick and Jay Greene both canceled plans to travel to conferences where they didn’t feel safe as Jews. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news outlet.)

Several Jewish students at MIT told The Daily Signal that they’ve changed how they dress to avoid being targeted again by pro-Hamas students on campus—for example, swapping yarmulkes for baseball caps.

Countless synagogues, Jewish day schools, museums, and community centers have increased armed security drastically.

Why change your behavior in a nation where your right to religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution? Because pro-Hamas protesters from Pennsylvania to California continually chant threats such as “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide.” 

Heaven help the Jew who is noticed acting a little too Jewish near a progressive university or pocket of fundamentalist Muslims. He might find his business, synagogue, student center, or cemetery protested, surrounded, and vandalized, as happened in New YorkCaliforniaFlorida, and Ohio.

The pro-Hamas protesters never explain how an Israeli Jew owning a coffee shop or retail store is equivalent to funding “the war against Palestine.” But like most other conspiracies steeped in antisemitism, sound data and logic are absent on principle.

In true American fashion, many Jews are preparing for the increased threats to the safety of their families and communities by arming themselves and taking firearms and self-defense training courses.

Chris Radcliff, a police officer in rural Indiana, told The Daily Signal that a large number of local Jews who didn’t carry prior to Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 Israelis have been filling up his classes on personal defense and firearms safety—and encouraging their friends to do the same.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, an orthodox Jew living in Florida, consistently reports the same. On his daily podcast, Shapiro has reported that gun stores and shooting ranges are packed with Jewish individuals who don’t wish to be the targets of the racial lynch mobs that have begun to form in urban areas such as New York City.

In the past month, two distinct groups of pro-Hamas protesters, one made up of college students at Cooper Union and the other of high school students in Queens, surrounded Jews until police officers had to escort the Jews to safety.

In both cases, the mobs of young people screamed the genocidal chant of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as they beat on doors separating them from terrified Jews inside. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, dispatched counselors from a “diversity, equity, and inclusion” group to lecture the mob of violent students in Queens, in place of any real consequence.

Jewish students have been harassed at MIT, Columbia, Penn State, Harvard, and NYU. Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose by over 400% in the first two weeks after Oct. 7.

Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man, was beaten to death with a megaphone in Thousand Oaks, California, by a pro-Hamas protester, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reported.

A California middle school forced four 11-year-old Jewish students to sign a gag order after they were harassed by a pro-Hamas student who told them that “all Israelis and Jews should be killed.” 

Community leaders also have altered their behavior to avoid offending pro-Hamas groups at the expense of Jews.

The Second Sundays Art and Music Festival in Williamsburg, Virginia, canceled an annual menorah lighting scheduled for Dec. 10 after the founder of the festival said the event “seemed very inappropriate” in view of the Israel-Hamas war and might indicate the festival had chosen a side in the conflict.

The event organizer later offered to allow the menorah lighting, if it were done “under a banner calling for a cease-fire.”

This action drew severe condemnation from the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula, which labeled as antisemitic this pandering and singling out of an apolitical religious event:

We should be very clear: It is antisemitic to hold Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s policies and actions, and to require a political litmus test for Jews’ participation in community events that have nothing to do with Israel. Those standards would never be applied to another community.

After being heckled by pro-Hamas protesters, Brown University President Christina Paxson altered her speech to omit a student’s right to safely wear a yarmulke or the Star of David on campus—choosing only to mention a student’s right to wear a keffiyeh or hijab.

Jews in the United States are under attack, and the Left only has eyes for Islamophobia. 

This isn’t new—only a different flavor of disgrace. After a transgender shooter slaughtered six, including three children, at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mourned transphobia

Racial crimes in which a black individual kills a white individual are often left without the FBI’s “hate crime” label.

There isn’t a single reason that the full weight of our federal government—the same government that found Jan. 6 protesters in mere moments—shouldn’t be brought down on those who cause our fellow Jewish citizens to live in fear. 

Where is the social justice crowd now?

On paper, you have the freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. But after the cowardly responses to the blatant antisemitism that has become so common following Oct. 7, it’s clear that the First Amendment is extended only to a few select groups. Jews need not apply.

Tony Kinnett @TheTonus is an investigative columnist for The Daily Signal and a weeknightly radio show host on 93WIBC in Indianapolis. Original here. Reproduced with permission.