Originally published in the New York Daily News.
What happened yesterday in Jersey City is exactly what Jewish Americans have been saying for years as anti-Semitism has spiked from coast to coast: There are life and death consequences to anti-Jewish hate.
Violence has always been the handmaiden of anti-Semitism, and this fact has repeated itself again and again in our country and around the world. There is a direct line between the mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the Poway Synagogue shooting, and the Jersey City attack. Indeed, there is a direct line connecting these events and all anti-Semitic attacks with the Holocaust and the long history of persecution and violence Jews have faced.
While every victim of anti-Semitic violence is a unique and beloved individual, each of these attacks begins and ends with a hatred born of ignorance, prejudice and fear.
In the direct aftermath of the horrendous attack in Jersey City, we must of course take time to remember and grieve for those we lost, including the brave law enforcement officer who was killed in the line of duty. Moreover, we are grateful to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who has provided the city and especially the Jewish community with steady leadership in this time. Under his watch, Jersey City has been a friend and ally to its sizable Jewish community; in some ways, this makes this attack all the more shocking, a reminder that anti-Semitic violence can happen anywhere.
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But we must also see anti-Semitic attacks as connected, and use the lessons we have learned from past attacks to look to and prepare for the future. Rather than solely lament the senseless loss of innocent life, I want to propose tangible steps we can take to do something about it now: today, tomorrow and in the days and weeks ahead.
1. The presidential elections are underway, providing presidential candidates, along with prominent political figures taking part in the discussion, with a golden opportunity to stand up for the Jewish people. Each candidate should sign a pledge to use their campaigns as platforms to promote Jewish security and inclusion. News organizations must also press candidates to address anti-Semitism on the debate stage. How we deal with issues like white supremacy and anti-Semitism, both on the right and the left, should be a question posed to every candidate as debates continue — and the Jewish community expects real plans and initiatives.
2. President Trump should take action to move us back on track. I urge the president to address a joint session of Congress to address the issue of anti-Semitism to the American people at large.
3. Congress should dedicate America’s next National Prayer Breakfast this January to addressing anti-Semitism across religious lines. The prayer breakfast is an event unparalleled in scope and impact, and would be an excellent time for prominent political and religious community leaders to engage on anti-Jewish hatred, which bears implications for all religious denominations. This is a rare opportunity to galvanize our country’s diverse faith-based communities in common cause.
4. We should welcome and encourage philanthropists to put their dollars toward real, current initiatives that can make a difference in this fight. Ron Lauder recently donated a generous $25 million to fighting anti-Semitism through education. Our schools and national education system are one of our most effective tools for combating hate and misinformation early in life, and we owe them our support. This is a social contribution that our community is deeply grateful for, and we hope others will follow his example. Teachers, clergy, employers, community organizations and others should participate in these worthwhile programs to promote understanding and inclusivity at a grassroots level in this nation.
5. Finally, we must track threats like this and preempt them wherever possible. Law enforcement at every level should have the capability to confidently predict such threats, and this must be given top priority. Furthermore, the private sector should take the initiative to come forward and support law enforcement efforts to track and preempt the dangers of hate.
America is the only nation of its kind because we derive our strength through diversity, of people and ideas. However, there is no tent big enough to accommodate anti-Semitism. There are no “good people” who espouse these ideas. The paradox of tolerance is that we must not tolerate the slaughter of our own people on the basis of how they pray, what they look like or whom they love.
Now is the time for action.
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