Normally my Shabbat messages come every other week. But from time to time a topic is too important to wait for the next message. Over the last few weeks, we have seen an unacceptable rise in antisemitic statements from public figures, including Kanye West. These remarks are not only hurtful, they are dangerous. When anyone with a significant following expresses an antisemitic view, the danger is that their followers may blindly adopt them as well. This must stop.
Antisemitic statements have an impact on impressionable minds, and they embolden those who already hold similar views. This weekend we saw antisemitic white supremacists in California hang banners that simply stated, “Kayne is right.” The neo-Nazis believe they have a champion. I wish these incidents were isolated, but we’ve seen an uptick in local incidents within the last several weeks including vitriolic banners posted over area highways and anti-Jewish flyers espousing white supremacist ideologies distributed in local neighborhoods. These acts are intolerable and unacceptable–especially in the shadow of the four-year anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.
I want everyone to know that when it comes to fighting antisemitism, the Alliance is always there for our community. Antisemitism is not starting, nor will it end with Kanye West, and we will remain vigilant against all forms of antisemitism locally, nationally, and globally. Much of the work we do is not public, it is behind the scenes. We work with the Attorney General and US Attorney’s Office as well as with local law enforcement to monitor and address acts of antisemitism when they occur. We meet with local officials to discuss ways to reduce acts of antisemitism. And we help to organize others to help us fight it because we cannot do it alone. Next May, the Alliance will be hosting an anti-hate summit for educators, law enforcement, and public officials to come together to not only learn why fighting antisemitism and hate is important, but to create action steps that will help us stamp out hate in Rhode Island.
In the short-term, we are calling on all Rhode Islanders to educate themselves about antisemitic tropes and history, to listen to Jewish voices, and stand with us against antisemitism and all forms of hate. We are working with our partners at the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center to help schools teach Rhode Island children about the dangers of antisemitism. And we continue to work, as we always have, to ensure every Jewish institution is safe and secure.
While this rise in antisemitism is concerning, I continue to be inspired by our strong, vibrant community. Please know that the Alliance is here for you, and here because of you.
I wish you a safe, peaceful, and joyous Shabbat.
President & CEO