Orlando Sentinel: Take A Stand: Speak Out Against Antisemitism
“We’re all human.”
That’s a line from the song that opened the recent rally outside the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, where Floridians of every color and creed, and from every walk of life, joined forces to denounce the anti-Jewish graffiti that had been scrawled on the museum’s outer wall. The gathering reflected one of Florida’s core strengths — diversity in race, gender, religion, and political philosophy. Public officials and private citizens alike should emulate this example by standing up and speaking out against antisemitism. Because the hard truth is that too many Jewish Americans feel unsafe right now — and they need to know their fellow Americans have their back.
The desecration of this sacred space — which honors the six million Jewish men, women, and children murdered in the Holocaust — is one of many troubling incidents that have occurred in recent weeks. In Miami Beach, a Jewish family visiting from New Jersey was attacked. In New York, a brick crashed through a window of a kosher pizza restaurant. In Los Angeles, men shouting antisemitic threats harassed Jewish diners outside a sushi restaurant. Synagogues have been vandalized in Arizona, Illinois, and Utah. There can be zero tolerance for these physical and verbal assaults.
Meanwhile, in Nashville, a hat store sold “not vaccinated” Star of David patches for $5. This is a gross misappropriation of the symbol that European Jews were forced to wear as a means of separating them from their non-Jewish counterparts and then subjecting them to persecution. It demeans the memory of the millions of Jews killed during the Holocaust and trivializes the pain endured by those who managed to survive this effort to exterminate an entire people.
What we need is clear. We need leaders in Washington, Tallahassee, and communities around the country to condemn anti-Jewish conduct in morally unambiguous language, without any attempt to excuse, rationalize, or justify such behavior. Perpetrators of these attacks should be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with our laws. Additional funding should be provided to improve security at synagogues, Jewish community centers, and other faith-based institutions. We should redouble efforts to educate our fellow Americans, especially our young people, about the long and violent history of antisemitism, history’s oldest hatred. We must “never forget” what happens when good people remain silent in the face of anti-Jewish acts.
During a recent town hall meeting organized by the Jewish Federations of Southwest and Central Florida, attendees were encouraged to combat antisemitism in all of its pernicious forms. One good way to do that is to visit ActAgainstAntisemitism.org, which offers information about concrete steps you can take to make a difference in your community. Please, make your voice heard. Rather than being a bystander, take a stand.
We’re all human, and we’re stronger when we’re united.
Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy represents Florida’s 7th congressional district. Keith Dvorchik is the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and CEO of the Roth Family Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando.
This op-ed first appeared in the Orlando Sentinel.