Hate has been in the news lately. It has infected the nation’s society, driven in no small part by social media. That’s where haters promote their lies, mistruths and venom. And there are way too many people who rely on social media to get their news. And worse, they believe the “news” they see and read about on social media. Over time, it seems, it begins to destroy common sense.
Among the targets of the hate spreading across our nation today is our Jewish population. Antisemitism is flourishing in the country. With the small Jewish population in Georgia (only 1.2% of Georgia’s population is Jewish) I don’t know as many Jewish people today as I have in the past. But over the years I’ve had friendly relationships with a lot of people of the Jewish faith. With that in mind, I don’t agree with the current trend of antisemitism.
One hundred years ago, downtown Hazlehurst was filled with Jewish-owned stores and businesses. Various Jewish holidays and observance were news items that were regularly reported in The Hazlehurst News. Jewish families were important to the Hazlehurst community and were valuable members of the community.
In March, 1923, Hazlehurst News Editor Otto Middleton penned the following in his weekly column:
“The Baxley News-Banner has been boycotted by the Jews of Baxley, according to an editorial appearing in that paper. The News-Banner claims that the Jewish merchants of Baxley want cut-rate advertising space to advertise their wares to the people of Appling County. The News-Banner refused to cut regular advertising rates, and rightly so, and the “boycott” began. The Baxley News-Banner is one of the oldest institutions in Baxley and deserves the full cooperation of all the people of Appling County, for certainly it has been the main factor in building that section of Georgia from the wilderness into one of the garden spots of Wire Grass Georgia.
“The Jewish merchants of Baxley are far different from our Jewish merchants. In Hazlehurst the Jews keep our large presses running most of the time heralding their wares to the public. Our Jews are really ‘city builders’ and believe in patronizing home. They own their own homes and are among the largest taxpayers. No worthy cause goes by our Jews unnoticed and, really, Hazlehurst is proud of them, as they help make Hazlehurst one of the best little cities in Georgia.
“If the Jews of Baxley begin to fight their home paper they will learn in the course of time that they are fighting Baxley and all it stands for.”