The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


American Attentiveness Towards Judaism: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Israel, Anti-Education

Quintessa Frisch
The Israeli flag waving on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on July 31, 2023

The Anti-Defamation League reported 3,697 antisemitic incidents in 2022 across the United States. With 365 days in the Gregorian calendar, that accounts for roughly ten incidents per day – these are just the reported cases. Considering unreported cases, this already immense number is an even larger amount in actuality. With a 36% increase in antisemitic incidents in the United States from 2021 to 2022, antisemitism is on the rise.

Although not always the case, there is a direct correlation between antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents in the United States. There was a surge of antisemitic incidents in May of 2021 amidst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Out of the 387 incidents occurring during May 2021, 297 occurred during and after May 10, when military action emerged and violence broke out in Israel, Gaza, and surrounding areas. With a reported 148 percent increase in May 2021 to the previous year, the correlation between antisemitic incidents in the United States during times of Israeli tension is evident. Not every American Jew is a Zionist; however, whether Zionist or not, most American Jews have had no influence over Israeli politics in their life.

“While we have always seen a rise in antisemitic activity during increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May [2021] was shocking. Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away,” said ADL CEO and National Director, Jonathan Greenblatt.

As antisemitism seems prevalent throughout the entirety of the United States, it is no surprise that it shows up in Aspen and the valley – specifically at Aspen High School. Whether it is hearing offensive statements walking by, watching students draw swastikas in class, or seeing them marked on the walls of the bathrooms, it makes me wonder, are people really this blatantly antisemitic, or are they just uninformed and ignorant?

This summer, I went on a United Synagogue Youth (USY) program that traveled to Israel and Eastern Europe. With about 40 kids, we visited Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic before spending about a month in Israel. In Eastern Europe, most of our time was spent learning about Jewish culture before and after the Holocaust in larger cities such as Prague, Warsaw, and Berlin, as well as the villages and towns in between. Additionally, we visited ghettos, concentration camps, and extermination camps, such as the Warsaw Ghetto, Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Before this trip, I thought I knew more about the Holocaust than I did. I was expecting and prepared to learn a lot more and gain new experiences, especially by experiencing the sights myself, but I remained shocked by the amount I did not know about the Holocaust. For a week straight, we visited countless sights. Whether it was museums, memorials, cemeteries, or camps, it continuously became harder throughout the week. I had never been in a situation where I had to process new, heavy emotions continuously without a break. With the inadequate amount of Holocaust education that Aspen High School offers, I wondered if the week would’ve been easier to get through and comprehend if I had more realistic expectations.

The Holocaust education in the Aspen School District is insufficient – I don’t think it would be reasonable to say that throughout my time in Aspen, I have spent more than 5 or 6 days learning and being educated about the Holocaust. The few moments that I had learned about the Holocaust it was rushed through and did not accurately explain the depth to which many events happened. Antisemitism appears more prevalent at Aspen High School than many are aware of. From what I have noticed, the majority of antisemitism that I have witnessed at school has been Holocaust-related, with instances ranging from swastikas in the bathrooms to offensive jokes or remarks. While there is never an excuse for antisemitism, I think it would be fair to assume that an increase in Holocaust education would directly correlate with a decrease in antisemitism in the school district and overall.

According to the American Jewish Population Project Data by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, 1.4% of Colorado’s population is Jewish – in Aspen, there is not an exact percentage of Jewish residents. When I was talking about my summer plans prior to my trip to Israel, I received mixed emotions and responses.

When talking to Jewish people, I tended to get more positive reactions. People were excited for me; they asked what sites I would be seeing, what I was looking forward to, and which program I was going with. When talking with non-Jewish people, about 90% of reactions came across as less enthusiastic and insincere. It seemed as if people were curious about why I wanted to go to Israel but were afraid to ask – to me, this overlapped with anti-Israel views.

Many Americans are in disagreement with The Israeli Government. The political state of Israel has been unstable since 1948, when the State of Israel was established – on the same day, the State of Israel was recognized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. Since 1948, Israel has been under immense pressure from surrounding nations, evidently in constant conflict.

This summer, the Knesset reduced the power of Israel’s Supreme Court judges. Previously, the idea of “unreasonableness” was used to overturn policies by higher governmental authorities. The decision this summer implemented fear that Israel would turn into an undemocratic state. Protests were vibrant in Israel throughout the majority of the summer, before and after the Israeli Parliament’s decision.

Considering that this evokes more democratic power in Israel, this is conceptually similar to the ideologies of many American Democrats. One would think that this would encourage support for the Israeli Government on behalf of the United States; however, many Americans’ views on Israel seem to be solely based on their views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Gallup, there is a partisan divide regarding the support of Israel – Democrats tend to lean away from Israel and towards Palestine instead.

“After a decade in which Democrats have shown increasing affinity toward the Palestinians, their sympathies in the Middle East now lie more with the Palestinians than the Israelis, 49% versus 38%,” Gallup reports. “Today’s attitudes reflect an 11-percentage-point increase over the past year in Democrats’ sympathy with the Palestinians. At the same time, the percentages sympathizing more with the Israelis (38%) and those not favoring a side (13%) have dipped to new lows.”

Republicans show higher support for the Israeli Government; 66% are in favor opposed to the Palestinian government, according to the Pew Research Center. Considering the crowd of people I talked to, the majority of the group were seemingly Democrats, or just considerably left – the anti-Israel responses I received aligned with this research.

Although not every anti-Israel person is antisemitic, the relevance of antisemitism in the United States is not up for debate, and a lack of education does nothing but contribute to this – specifically, a lack of Holocaust education.

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About the Contributor
Quintessa Frisch
Quintessa Frisch, Editor-in-Chief
Quintessa Frisch is a junior at Aspen High School. This is her third year writing for the Skier Scribbler and has taken on the role of Editor-in-Chief. Quintessa is looking forward to incorporating more creative designs into the layout of the paper. She is interested in current local and national politics. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors, specifically skiing and playing lacrosse.

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