After Jersey City shooting, ADL and NAACP say, We are in this together –

Posted By on January 25, 2020

By Richard Smith and Evan R. Bernstein

On Dec. 10, 2019, two individuals parked a stolen van in front of a kosher supermarket in Jersey City. They went on to enter the store armed with a shotgun and assault rifle and brutally murdered three innocent civilians. They had already killed Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals less than a mile away. A mere two weeks later, in Monsey, New York, another armed individual entered a Rabbis house during a Hanukah celebration. He savagely stabbed and critically wounded several of the guests.

These two incidents were the latest in a string of high profile and lethal attacks on Jews that began with the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg over a year ago. While these violent attacks underscore anti-Semitism as a driving force for hatred and extremism, Jews are rarely the only target. Just a few years ago, in June 2015, a white supremacist entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot nine worshippers.

The attacks in Jersey City and Monsey show that anti-Semitism is widespread, and it is becoming increasingly violent. At the same time, we have seen a very troubling increase in the use of hateful rhetoric and anti-Semitic stereotypes by elected officials and community leaders in New Jersey. According to Attorney General Gurbir Grewals office, there were a staggering 944 bias incidents in 2019, an increase of 65%. In 2018, ADL recorded 200 anti-Semitic incidents, the third highest in the nation. Preliminary estimates are that this number will be even higher in 2019.

As the representatives of the NAACP and the ADL in New Jersey, we came together this month to say enough is enough and to establish a partnership to stop this trend in our state. Our message is clear. We will not allow hateful individuals to drive a dangerous wedge between our two communities.

This is because we know that anti-Semitism threatens Jews, but it also harms African Americans by reinforcing racist tropes and fomenting division. Jews of Color, for example, who live and worship in communities throughout our state, bear the brunt of both anti-Semitism and racism. In addition, for the many African Americans who are not Jewish, anti-Semitism reinforces racist tropes and divides us instead of uniting us to address the real challenges our communities face. The stereotyping and scapegoating of Jews that we see in anti-Semitism is all too familiar and connected to the racism faced by African-Americans. When we fail to confront anti-Semitism, it undermines our collective goal of ending all forms of hate and securing equal rights for all.

For over a century, the NAACP and ADL stood on the front lines of the joint fight for freedom, justice and equality. And we fully intend to continue this fight together by bringing this partnership to New Jersey.

Moving forward, ADL New York / New Jersey and the NAACP State Conference of New Jersey are committing our organizations to the joint objective of strengthening intercommunal understanding and combating all forms of hate in New Jersey. We will offer anti-bias education to elected officials, build bridges of tolerance and understanding between our constituents, and respond with a united voice to incidents of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry.

At ADL and the NAACP, we know that to truly eradicate anti-Semitism and racism once and for all, we must have meaningful conversations about the way hate functions. We must be able to have difficult conversations about the challenges facing our communities without invoking painful tropes or stereotypes. We must be willing to call out and vehemently reject hatred and bigotry each and every time we see it.

This is no easy task. It involves a commitment to increased dialogue and continued learning. It requires us to see and celebrate the exceptional diversity within the Black and Jewish communities. Dating back to NAACPs founding, Jewish activists and the ADL have played a disproportionate role in the civil rights movement. Similarly, the NAACP and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. stood with their Jewish brothers and sisters in strong condemnation of anti-Semitism. They understood we are in this together.

Whether it involves swastikas scrawled onto our childrens schools, white supremacist propaganda disseminated in our towns, or hateful vitriol sprouted online, the perpetrators of these acts carry a deep-seated disdain for all marginalized communities. We know that we are stronger when we combat these acts of hate together. We can and must do better, because our collective safety and security depend on it.

We welcome all New Jersey residents to join us in this fight.

Richard Smith is president of the NAACP State Conference in New Jersey and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors. Evan R. Bernstein is the Vice President, Northeast Division at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

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After Jersey City shooting, ADL and NAACP say, We are in this together -

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