The following column by AJC San Diego Regional Director Sara E. Brown appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Sometimes the rest of the world feels far away here in San Diego. We watch the crises across the globe and would like to think “no, not here, we’re not affected.”

If only that was the case with antisemitism, which knows no boundaries. And in communities where antisemitism has been left to rage unchecked, all of society suffers.

American Jewish Committee’s recently published State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report found that 63 percent of American Jews say they feel less secure living in the U.S. than a year ago, a dramatic jump from 41 percent in last year’s report and 31 percent in 2021.

And almost half of American Jews have changed their behavior at least once in the past year out of fears about antisemitism, such as not wearing an item that would identify them as Jewish or refraining from posting online content to voice their support of Israel.

The horrific Hamas terrorist massacre perpetrated against Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent war has sparked an alarming jump in antisemitic incidents across the country. No one should be afraid of being targeted walking down the street, going to school or being at work merely because they are Jewish. But here we are.

FBI statistics found Jews were the victims of 60 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes. Already before Oct. 7, many American Jews were on edge. The Hamas attack worsened their collective anxiety. The American Jewish Committee report found nearly eight in 10 of more than 1,500 American Jews surveyed felt less safe since the massacre.

Antisemitism isn’t just causing havoc for the Jewish community; it’s impacting our democratic processes as well. A series of callers spewed antisemitic vitriol during a February La Mesa City Council meeting. Each speaker took up the three minutes allotted by the council to spread hate speech, vicious anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, and to make libelous assertions like, “Jews suck the blood out from male babies like a vicious vampire.”

We have also seen the ongoing dysfunction at the San Diego County Human Relations Commission. On Feb. 6 the county Board of Supervisors voted 3-0, with two abstentions, to reappoint Taha Hassane, imam at the Islamic Center of San Diego, to serve a second term on the commission. That vote was hurtful, given that Hassane preached to his congregation during a sermon in October that the Hamas massacre was “justified resistance.”

The level of ignorance and vitriol has left many Jews feeling unwelcome and unsafe. The nefarious impact of antisemitism is not limited to our Jewish community; as Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, once noted, “In any country where antisemitism and other forms of hatred are left to rage, democracy is at risk. Freedom is at risk.”

Americans are coming to realize the corrosive impact of antisemitism. More than nine in 10 American Jews and three-quarters of the general public believe antisemitism is a problem in the U.S. today, while 86 percent of Jews and 56 percent of U.S. adults say antisemitism has increased over the last five years.

Antisemitism is a threat to our democracy, our liberty, our values and our freedoms. We must fight it to move forward as a more welcoming, pluralistic society. The hate that may begin with antisemitism invariably spreads to Black, Muslim, Latino and Asian communities too. Tackling antisemitism is a collective action for all of us, not just Jews.

Do not ignore or stand by in the face of antisemitic rhetoric, hatred, incidents, or violence. Stand up and say no, not in San Diego. Throughout history, perpetrators have relied on the silence of bystanders.

Don’t be a bystander. Silence is the oxygen that fuels antisemitism.

Instead, check in on your Jewish friends, co-workers, classmates and neighbors. Your support is both welcome and needed.

Jews in San Diego deserve better. We all do.