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In the Wake of anti-Semitic Attacks, We Must do More than Come Together

By: Donna Lieberman Executive Director

New York is reeling from a string of anti-Semitic attacks in the last week, including a knife attack on Saturday at a Hanukkah party in Monsey that left five people wounded.

These attacks come as anti-Semitic hate crimes are way up in New York City this year and overall since President Trump took office. 

It is impossible to ignore the link between the rise in hateful acts against Jewish people and a president who regularly uses his bully pulpit to foster racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry and violence. But we must also remember that anti-Semitism did not begin with him.

We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Jewish community that are seeing this unthinkable and devastating increase in anti-Semitic violence.  

It is important and valuable for us to stand together and embrace our common humanity, our pain, and yes, our differences. We must commit ourselves to push back against the hate that has become too much a part of our lives — whether that hatred is aimed at the other religion, the other race, the other nationality, the others who are not citizens, or those who have another gender expression, identity, or sexual orientation.

Because when hate wins we all lose.

But it’s also time for New Yorkers to do more than come together as brothers and sisters after these horrific attacks. It’s time for all of us to take responsibility to call out anti-Semitism when we see it; to call out racism; to call out homophobia; to call out Islamaphobia, and to call out all other forms of bias. 

This is true whether this hate is the manifestation of a serious mental illness, or when it comes from some radical fringe. It’s true when it comes from our own friends and neighbors or — as happens day in and day out under the Trump Administration — when it comes from the president of the United States.  

Because when hate wins we all lose. 

And it’s time for us to dig deep and ask hard questions: not least of which is how can we ensure that people with mental illness — and their families — can get treatment that is desperately needed and so desperately hard to find. 

And we need to get to work building bridges — and the respect and understanding that follows — between the many different racial, ethnic, and gendered communities that make New York the beautiful tapestry that it is, or at least that it can be.

When we know each other as people, we are less likely to fall prey to demonization and hate.  When our kids play together, go to school together, and live in the same neighborhoods, we are all less likely to be bullies and haters. And when adults set a good —or bad — example, we all know children will listen. 

To stop the hate, we need the biggest tent imaginable. We must work together to get the job done.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union