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August 19, 2022 11:42 am
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CNN to Air Special on Rising Antisemitism Featuring Interviews With Victims of Hate, Former Skinheads and More

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Antisemitic graffiti shown in the CNN special “Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America.” Photo: Screenshot.

CNN will air on Sunday a one-hour special about the spread of American antisemitism, the reasons for its normalization in America and ways to help tackle the growing issue.

In “Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America,” CNN anchor and chief political correspondent Dana Bash examines antisemitism online, on neighborhood streets, in the halls of politics and across college campuses. Bash visits Jewish communities in America recently plagued with antisemitic violence. CNN cameras were the first allowed inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California since the deadly attack that took place at the temple in 2019 and Bash also visited Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, where a gunman took congregants hostage earlier this year.

Bash also interviews law enforcement officials, victims of antisemitism — such as a member of Congregation Beth Israel who was held hostage in the attack in January — a former member of the racist Skinhead movement, and scholars and experts, including US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Bash additionally speaks with Cassie Blotner, one of two Jewish students at the State University of New York at New Paltz who were expelled from a sexual assault awareness group allegedly because of their support for Israel and Zionism. The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law recently filed a federal civil rights complaint with the US Department of Education on behalf of Blotner and her classmate.

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Bash, who is Jewish, wrote in an op-ed for CNN on Friday that a conversation she had with her 10-year-old son last year leading up to Hanukkah taught her a simple way to combat antisemitism. She began by explaining that her son asked her a Star of David necklace, but she initially brushed off the request.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the idea of him wearing his Jewish faith so prominently in public,” she wrote in the op-ed. “It is not that I was embarrassed or ashamed — just the opposite. I have always been extremely proud of my Judaism. I display a mezuzah on the outside of the door of my home, as is the Jewish custom. But wearing a Jewish star is something I had never considered for myself, much less my young son.”

When the youngster asked Bash a second time during Hanukkah if he was going to get the necklace as a gift, she admitted that she did not buy the necklace and asked him why he wanted it.

“He said that a lot of his Christian friends at school wore crosses, and that he wanted to wear a symbol of his own faith. He told me he is a proud Jew,” Bash shared. “To hear this come out of my young son’s mouth was jaw dropping. That he takes such pride in his religion — one preserved and practiced for thousands of years through countless generations of my family — made me incredibly emotional.”

Bash’s own Jewish roots trace back to her Hungarian Jewish great-grandparents and aunt, who were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, and her grandparents, who escaped Nazi persecution. After moving to the US, they “never took for granted the ability to practice their Judaism freely,” she wrote.

Bash said she eventually bought the Star of David necklace for her son — he wears it everyday now — and that the experience taught her “wearing a Jewish star can actually be a tactic in combating prejudice against Jews.”

“Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America” airs Sunday at 9 pm ET live for pay television subscribers on CNN.com and CNN OTT, and on mobile apps under “TV Channels” or CNNgo. The special will also be available On Demand beginning Monday on CNN apps and Cable Operator Platforms.

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