Standing Firm Against Hatred

Every day, the news brings more reports of anti-Semitic threats and incidents. One after another, after another.

Bomb threats called in to dozens of Jewish community centers in over two dozen states and to ADL’s national headquarters. Synagogues defaced. Desecration of the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis. And last week, a recruitment poster for a neo-Nazi group was seen on the University of Washington campus.

As we at the Federation will never forget, the risk that any threat could turn deadly is all too real. We must remain watchful and vigilant, always taking sensible security precautions. Here in the Puget Sound region, the Federation is the hub of the SAFE Washington program, which gives Jewish organizations free access to security communications, training and preparedness resources. We have built close working relationships with law enforcement agencies, and we encourage Jewish organizations to contact them for security and preparedness assistance. The agencies and SAFE Washington are eager to help.

The spate of anti-Semitic threats brings another serious risk – people will become numb to the dangers and consequences of hateful and divisive rhetoric; frequent acts of desecration and violence will become an accepted “new normal.” We must never allow that to happen, because it is not who we are as Americans and as Jews. It is critical that we consistently speak out against incivility, intolerance and intimidation that seek to “otherize” – such as the disturbing incident that took place on the UW campus last week when a display by Jewish students expressing their support for Israel, peace and respectful dialogue was vandalized.

Bigoted acts of hatred against any community are acts of hatred against all communities, and together we must dedicate ourselves to fight hatred in all its forms. We must stand firmly for our Jewish values of welcoming the stranger, working for justice and repairing our world.

Shabbat Shalom.