How the Jewish Federation is combating antisemitism locally
Last month, I wrote the following Op-ed in hopes local media would publish it and to not only highlight our effort, but also publicly thank those cities who have joined our effort.
At the end of May, the White House released its National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. I feel it is important to share with the community the work the local Jewish Federation has been doing locally to combat it.
Between 2021 and 2022, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that there was a 41% increase in antisemitic incidents here in California. These have included targeted attacks on Jews walking out of synagogues, to swastikas and other forms of vandalism hitting schools to banners being placed on a 405 Freeway overpass saying “Kanye was right” following West’s diatribe against Jews and a series of flyers spewing hate and accusations about Jews thrown on neighborhood driveways. This escalation of antisemitic incidents and vitriol in society has caused anxiety, concern, and anger, which, as a result has forced the Jewish community to focus more attention on security out of fear.
The Jewish Federation worked closely with local law enforcement and organizations like the ADL to discuss ways to handle the situation.
In December 2022, I wrote an Op-ed, drawing attention to the issue and calling for community members to stand with the Jewish community to combat this hatred. However, I knew more needed to be done, and the Jewish Federation jumped into action.
This March, the Jewish Federation initiated our effort by sending letters to the city council members of the 48 cities we cover imploring that their respective cities take the following action steps:
1. Sign the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and US Conference of Mayors’ statement to combat antisemitism and join the over 700 mayors who have already done so. (Only 4 of our local mayors (Brea, Chino Hills, El Monte, and South El Monte) had signed onto the statement before the letter was sent.)
2. Adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
3. Adopt a resolution denouncing antisemitism and all forms of hatred.
4. Establish a task force of representatives from various targeted ethnic and racial groups to work with city officials to develop a plan to confront hatred.
And to ensure they had received and read these letters, we followed up a few weeks later.
During these last two months, the following City Councils responded by passing resolutions, agreeing to sign onto AJC and US Conference of Mayors’ statement to combat antisemitism, and adopting IHRA’s working definition on antisemitism: Claremont, Upland, Monrovia, Alhambra, Sierra Madre, San Gabriel, Temple City, Pasadena, Whittier, Diamond Bar, and Walnut.
I want to publicly thank these city leaders, on behalf of the local Jewish community, for standing with us and publicly stating that your city does not tolerate antisemitism or any form of hatred. And I am hopeful that South Pasadena will be added to this list following its June 7 City Council meeting.
If you do not see your city listed above, I urge you to contact your city’s leaders and ask them why they have not taken a public stand against antisemitism and all forms of hatred. Implore that they take immediate action, as requested by the Jewish Federation, and stand with neighboring communities against hate. Encourage everyone you know to do the same thing and help us in our effort to combat antisemitism and all forms of hatred.
And lastly, if you experience or witness any form of antisemitism or hate, even if you feel it “was nothing” or don’t think it will make a difference, REPORT IT! When I speak with the ADL, the FBI, and even law enforcement, they all say to report every incident. This information helps them build cases, and by collecting this data, it will continue to impact local, state, and federal policies.
The Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys will continue our effort to combat antisemitism locally and with your help, we can make a real difference in our community… together!
Jason Moss is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater
San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.