“No Hate in Our States” AJC Westchester/Fairfield: The Zionism = Racism Lie Isn’t Over*
By Myra Clark-Siegel, Director, AJC Westchester/Fairfield
We are honored to feature Westchester Human Rights Commission Chair Rev. Doris Dalton in this month’s “Reimagine What’s Possible: No Hate in Our States” column.
Q: What drew you to interfaith/intergroup work?
Rev. Dalton: As an ordained Methodist minister and Deacon, I’ve always been drawn to anti-racism and interfaith work and their intersection. As Westchester Human Rights Commission Chair, I believe that our county is very diverse and unique and want to further engage people to dialogue and discuss how we grow stronger together and give each other mutual respect and dignity.
Q: Please address some areas of strong interfaith/intergroup dialogue? Areas for improvement?
Rev. Dalton: Westchester has very strong interfaith groups and dialogue and cooperation; something I have not seen at this level elsewhere. There is a strong desire in Westchester to stand with and for one another.
Areas we could improve include standing together when we are not in times of crisis, “when the weather is fair”. Despite COVID, we can still engage in conversation and dialogue.
Q: We at AJC are deeply committed to interfaith/intergroup dialogue and standing together, ensuring pluralism and equality for all. What steps can address both antisemitism and hate aimed at minority communities?
Rev. Dalton: Great question! I’ve become clearer on the need to be very definitive about the dangers of white supremacist ideology that is antisemitic, anti-black, racist, sexist, and toxic, and permeates society.
If there are policies or practices that exclude and don’t work towards equity, we’re not working for justice for all. Truth-telling about history is key to us being to move forward well. If we’re not honest about our past and how we failed in history – slavery, antisemitism, the Chinese Exclusion Act, children in detention centers on the Southern border – we are destined to repeat those mistakes. We can always do better.
Q: In AJC’s report on the State of Antisemitism in America, we found striking differences on views by the Jewish community and general society about the level of antisemitism in the U.S. What can be done to help the Jewish community feel safe?
Rev. Dalton: It’s not up to the Jewish community to say, “please be empathetic with us”. It’s a choice we all have to make as a Community of Conscience to stand with our friends who are American Jews. That is the call for all of us to carry.
Q: What would you say if you had 5 minutes with the President of the U.S. to address interfaith/intergroup issues?
Rev. Dalton: We’re facing the retirement of a Supreme Court justice. I would urge the President to think about a justice who would not be afraid of taking a definitive stance on free speech versus hate speech. We see the danger of white supremacy. I would urge him to think about how we create laws and put in place decision makers who will move our democracy forward.
Myra Clark-Siegel is AJC Westchester/Fairfield regional director. To join our efforts: email@example.com.