No Hate In Our States:
Celebrating the Diversity of our Communities
By Myra Clark-Siegel, Director, AJC Westchester/Fairfield
The July 4 shooting attack in Highland Park hit each of us deeply and viscerally. It was horrifically another in a long list of hateful, murderous attacks, including Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX that instantly shattered multiple lives, families, and communities. May the memories of each victim be an eternal blessing and may the wounded have a full and speedy recovery.
So many of these attackers have expressed a deep hatred of “the other”: of immigrants, the LGTBQ+ community, or racial or religious groups. Indeed, as we watch the Congressional hearings on the January 6 insurrection, we are reminded of the sweatshirts that several of the perpetrators wore, reading, “Camp Auschwitz” or “6MWNE”, for “Six million (Jews) was not enough”. These chilling phrases were intentional choices and underscores the education and work we must recommit ourselves to doing.
Indeed, AJC’s groundbreaking 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report, based on parallel surveys of American Jews and of the U.S. general public, highlights that majorities of both American Jews and the U.S. general public agree that antisemitism is a problem in America, though to differing extents. While 90% of American Jews believe antisemitism is a problem, that number drops to only 60% among the general public.
After marking our nation’s 246th Independence Day, we each have a choice: do we shake our heads, mourn the hatred, and then carry on with our day? Or do we say “Hineni” (count on me), and actively reach out and build bridges of understanding with our diverse communities? The responsibility lies with each of us, and the time is never more urgent.
As Buffalo, NY Mayor Byron Brown said at AJC’s Global Forum just weeks ago, “Hatred toward one group of people is hatred toward all of us. We are stronger when we stand together. We can fight hate more effectively when we work together. Everyone can do something. Collectively, coming together, sharing our experiences, our backgrounds, our strategies to eliminate hate make us more effective in working against hate in our communities. I want to thank the American Jewish Committee [AJC] for your work and tireless advocacy against hate in all its forms. We have a shared commitment to fight against hate.”
AJC Westchester/Fairfield’s interfaith/intergroup Community of Conscience and our LFT (Leaders for Tomorrow) high school program are dedicated to doing exactly that – teaching all of us the tools to stand against hate and celebrate the strength of our diverse communities. We hope you will join us in this shared commitment.
Myra Clark-Siegel is AJC Westchester/Fairfield regional director. To join our efforts: firstname.lastname@example.org.