Truth be told, I never know what I am going to write about until I sit down at the computer and start typing. So much has happened in the last two weeks. Do I talk about the heinous crimes the Asian American community has been subjected to recently? Do I bring up the correlation between Asian Americans being singled out and discriminated against just as the Jews were singled out and scapegoated in Nazi Germany? Do I connect racism to the reason Jews fled Egypt as we celebrate Passover? Yes, yes, and yes!
By the time you read this my family will have completed two Passover Seders, but I can’t help wondering, was Pharaoh racist? The Cambridge English Dictionary describes a racist as “Someone who believes that their race makes them better, more intelligent, more moral, etc. than people of other races and who does or says unfair or harmful things as a result”. In other words, someone who believes themselves to be superior to other races or nationalities.
Jews suffered terrible persecution in the mid-14th century when the plague (referred to as the ‘Black Death’) reduced the European population by a third. Rumors spread that it was due to a ‘Jewish conspiracy’. According to Rutgers University’s Martin J. Blaser, a historian and professor of medicine and microbiology, rumors spread that Jews were poisoning the wells with the plague. As a result tens of thousands of Jews were massacred and was considered the “worst persecution of Jews” before the Holocaust.
Blaser also pointed out that “When there are big epidemics, people get scared and they often look to blame some kind of intruder or stranger. It has happened especially with the Jews.”
Since the start of the pandemic the Asian community has been blamed for causing the Coronavirus. As a result there has been a high rise in hate crimes and violence (including bodily harm) towards the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
With the recent attacks on the AAPI community, the upcoming Holocaust Memorial day of Remembrance on April 8 could not have come at a more appropriate time.
Remember, you are invited to attend the City of West Hollywood’s Holocaust Memorial event where I am the featured speaker. Mark your calendars for April 8 at 12 noon PST, and hold onto this Invite link.
Click here to join the Zoom event
Meeting ID: 921 9378 7384
To call in with your phone, find your local number here: https://zoom.us/u/ablSIE0ZpC
Wishing those who celebrate Passover a ‘healthy and happy’ time with family, whether it is in-person or via Zoom. And my sentiments are the same for my friends who will be celebrating Easter on April 4.