VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A new report on the state of Antisemitism in America shows 41% of Jewish Americans feel less secure than they did a year ago. One in five have altered their daily lives out of fear.
“It’s pervasive and we need action,” said Betty Ann Levin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Levin has experienced antisemitism first hand in Virginia Beach. “My kids have in school; not from acts but from comments,” Levin told WAVY.
Antisemitic flyers were also distributed in her neighborhood and others last summer.
“It’s really disturbing and not only Jewish people, but non Jewish people feel targeted,” she said.
The office of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is forming a new Antisemitism Task Force in response to the recommendation of the Governor’s Commission to Combat Antisemitism report issued in December.
“We take our role as the people’s protector incredibly seriously. No one should be looking over their shoulder in fear,” Miyares told WAVY.
The task force’s mission will center on four strategies: monitoring, gathering information, education and investigating instances of antisemitism in the commonwealth.
“You cross the line, you think you can get away with harming a fellow Virginian, you’ll be hearing from our office and from law enforcement very soon,” Miyares said.
Protecting Jewish day schools and synagogues is high on his list of priorities, as well as educating young people on university campuses in Virginia about antisemitism.
Levin is hopeful the new task force will lead to change. “We thought in some ways in 2023 we were past this conversation, but we’re not and so I’m proud that Virginia is going to be a leader,” she said.
Miyares’ office is taking applications for those who want to be involved in the task force. You can submit instances of antisemitic discrimination to AG Miyares’ office, using this online form.
Meanwhile, Levin says the best thing we can all do is talk about it, especially with our kids.
Here are some resources to help guide you in those conversations:
Virginia Center For Inclusive Communities