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Fmr. Biden campaign Jewish outreach director advises Jews to hide faith amid rise in anti-Semitic violence

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Aaron Keyak, who led Jewish outreach for the 2020 Biden-Harris campaign and transition, promoted a column on Twitter suggesting that Jews should remove clothing items denoting their faith amid an escalation of antisemitic attacks and physical assaults.

“It pains me to say this, but if you fear for your life or physical safety take off your kippah and hide your magen david. (Obviously, if you can, ask your rabbi first.),” Keyah wrote in a post containing a link to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency column making the suggestion. Kippah refers to Jews’ head covering, while “magen David” refers to the Jewish Star of David.

Keyak’s recommendation, as well as that from the column, comes amid rising violence against Jews in the U.S.

“This week, Jews across the United States have been attacked because of the fighting in Israel and Gaza. In Los Angeles, pro-Palestinian attackers threw punches and bottles at diners at a sushi restaurant. In New York’s heavily Jewish Diamond District, protesters of Israel threw fireworks from a car amid a violent street altercation,” the JTA column notes. “As footage of those attacks and others spreads online, American Jews say they are feeling a renewed anxiety around identifying themselves publicly as Jews. Some are taking off their kippahs or Star of David necklaces.”

“On the one hand I want to be a proud Jew and express to the world that that’s something I’m passionate about,” Drew Feldman, a theater director who said he more often wears a ball cap these days instead of his kippah out of fear, told the JTA writers. “On the other hand, the Torah says we have to put life above all else.”

But social media users criticized Keyak’s comments as well as his suggestion, while others blamed President Joe Biden and some Democrats who have been criticized for making antisemitic remarks.

“Why won’t Biden ask his supporters to stop kicking the s**t out of Jews? He doesn’t want to offend the Jihad Squad and the Hamas Caucus? What would you say if Trump supporters were assaulting Jews and a Trump campaign staffer told Jews to hide their religion? You’re a coward,” PR expert Arthur Schwartz wrote.

“There is a reason this image is well known in the Jewish community. They do not cower or hide their faith. It’s shameful to tell them to accept living in a world where they must hide it,” conservative editor John Willow wrote in a post that included a period photo of a menorah sitting on a window sill with a Nazi flag hanging from a building in the background.

Other users went on to point out previous tweets from Keyak in which he complained about allegedly living in fear during former President Donald Trump’s administration, though there were no widespread reports of attacks on Jews by his supporters.

Still others suggested that Jews carry weapons to protect themselves, at least where they are allowed to do so.

“The only thing you should conceal (legally) is your firearm. Second Amendment protects the First. We are not Europe,” Breitbart News’ Joel Pollak wrote.

Others agreed.

Jon Dougherty

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