Davida Finger

How does it feel to have a bomb threat at your kids’ nursery school?

We found out Thursday in New Orleans when the Jewish Community Center — our kids go to school there — received such a threat. It feels scarier than anything I could have imagined. It feels completely un-understandable.

Who would want to frighten, disrupt, and, at worst, hurt or kill my children and their friends, teachers, and coaches, along with the JCC gym goers, cleaning staff, and other workers?  How much hatred must consume someone to do such a thing, even as a hoax?

I feel angry, confused, and frustrated.  I feel heartbroken that I have not been able to give my children a world that is preoccupied with peace and tolerance.

We should have learned from the experience of both the dead and their survivors that threats like this cannot be brushed off.

I remind myself that families all over the world live in intense fear of regular violence including senseless violence against their children.  And our country has certainly experienced — and continues to experience — its share of violent hate crimes, including attacks on racial and social minorities and religious institutions like mosques and churches.

But I also know that the bomb threat to our JCC was not a random act.  Our JCC was one of more than 50 JCCs threatened like this in recent weeks.  I am not surprised that these threats at JCC nursery schools have now become normalized.

I believe these threats have been fueled and constantly re-energized by the hatred spawned and embraced by President Trump and his administration — including his chief strategist Steven Bannon, a man celebrated by white supremacists for his hatred of Jews, blacks, and immigrants.

The Trump team continues to spread hatred and violence at every turn. On a daily basis, they spew misinformation, scapegoating, race-baiting, Islamophobia, and war-mongering. That mainstream media outlets that offer critique and fact-checking were banned from a White House press briefing Friday while conservative news outlets were allowed in is an even stronger signal that things are getting worse.

Trump has refused to answer questions about what he will do to stop the recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents. Only after some dozens of similar threats to JCCs around our country did Trump issue any statement at all. It was too little, too late.

I agree with the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in its recognition that Trump’s statement — made after trying to publicly shame the Jewish reporter who raised a question about the rise in hate incidents — was merely “a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration.”

There are people who think that I and others in the Jewish community are overreacting to these bomb threats. But watching and waiting in silence to see if things get worse is no option.

My children are here, in part, because two righteous individuals hid their paternal grandfather for five years during the Holocaust.  We should have learned from the experience of both the dead and their survivors that threats like this cannot be brushed off.

Davida Finger grew up in New Orleans and works at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

The Opinion section is a forum for community debate. Views expressed are not necessarily those of The Lens or its staff.