BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) — Anti-Semitism is steadily increasing across the country in the wake of the war in Israel, and one of the latest cases was found in Middle Tennessee.
Some drivers in the Brentwood area were stunned to find an anti-Semitic message spray painted at Exit 74A on I-65 in Brentwood over the weekend. Dr. Carol Swain, a former political science and law professor at Vanderbilt University, snapped the picture of the messaging on Sunday.
“I’m at the age now where I am not surprised by much, but I did not expect to see it,” said Swain. “I do know that when I posted there were some people that said ‘Oh, I saw that Sunday morning; I saw that as I was going to church.’ When I took the photograph, it was late in the evening. It was getting close to dusk.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) painted over the messaging Monday afternoon. This latest case is part of a rise in anti-Semitic incidents since the attack on Israel.
“I believe it’s a message to the whole Nashville community and it’s not just isolated. I believe we would be a mistake if we just focused on the anti-Semitism of that message. It has to be seen in the context of the pro-Hamas, pro-Palestinian rallies that are taking place downtown on the steps of the capitol,” said Swain.
Incidents like this are growing, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) center on extremism.
In the one-month period between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7, they documented 832 anti-Semitic incidents of assault, vandalism, and harassment across the United States, an average of nearly 28 incidents a day. This represents a 316% increase from the 200 incidents reported during the same period in 2022.
“We’re seeing it in every part of society; we’re seeing it in every state in the country,” said Eytan Davidson, regional director for ADL Southeast.
The ADL also released information today on a survey of U.S. adults that found that 71% of Americans agree hatred toward Jews is a serious problem in the U.S., a one-third increase from 2022, when 53% of Americans agreed. For Swain, she said it’s time for the community to come together.
“I think other people to need to exercise their free speech rights and make sure that we condemn it loudly and boldly,” said Swain.