ADL Florida has compiled their most recent posts in the Sun Sentinel South Florida 100, which features “Issues and opinions from 100 of South Florida’s most influential people in government, politics and culture.” The Sun Sentinel is the largest newspaper in South Florida, so I thought it may be a good idea to highlight the messages the ADL has been regularly using it to push to millions of Floridians over the past decade. Common themes include anti-White hatred, slander and incitement, promotion of Jewish-supremacy and a genocidal, Jewish apartheid state, promotion of sexual deviancy, calls for censorship, and the subversion of Christian churches and ideals. See the archive below.
July 10, 2022: Just a few days ago, we marked Independence Day. Our patriotism is not just allegiance to the flag or to the Republic for which it stands. We are patriotic to our democratic ideals and to each other as fellow citizens. President George Washington wrote to the Jewish community of Newport: “For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” We owe it to each other to demonstrate compassion and not sow division through bigotry.
July 1, 2022: This Pride Month, ADL joined with Keshet, Catholics for Choice, the Interfaith Alliance, the Reform Action Center and the Faith for Equality Coalition to launch Faith for Pride, a month-long effort to include the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in religious services and programs. Our overall goal is to demonstrate that people of faith support legal protections for LGBTQ+ people. We join together to ask people of various faiths to urge senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to pass the Equality Act and afford the LGBTQ+ community the same rights and protections that all Americans should enjoy.
June 10, 2022: This Pride Month, ADL joined with Keshet, Catholics for Choice, the Interfaith Alliance, the Reform Action Center and the Faith for Equality Coalition to launch Faith for Pride, a month-long effort to include the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in religious services and programs. Our overall goal is to demonstrate that people of faith support legal protections for LGBTQ+ people. We join together to ask people of various faiths to urge senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to pass the Equality Act and afford the LGBTQ+ community the same rights and protections that all Americans should enjoy.
May 6, 2022: ADL has been releasing our annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents since 1979, and we’ve never had a year like 2021. Florida saw a 50% increase in antisemitic incidents with 190 incidents recorded, an all-time high. This follows a 40% increase the prior year. Harassment incidents included flyer distributions, bomb threats, Zoom-bombings of religious services and targeted antisemitic slurs over social media and text. Vandalism incidents included swastikas and antisemitic graffiti in schools, on the car of a Holocaust survivor, in a cemetery, and at the Florida Holocaust Museum. We urge anyone who is targeted with antisemitism or bigotry to report it to law enforcement when relevant, and to ADL at adl.org/reportincident.
March 6, 2022: LGBTQ+ resources removed from the Florida Department of Education’s website. LGBTQ-related books removed from numerous school libraries. The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill – currently being fast-tracked in Tallahassee – is patently offensive, dangerous for children, teachers and schools, and could further enshrine the marginalization of Florida’s LGBTQ community. Our state senators have a historic opportunity to firmly say no to appeals to divide us. Florida can be known as a state that is welcoming, accepting and inclusive of all its diverse communities, or a state that is hallmarked by fear, exclusion and bigotry.
January 30, 2022: Last week, the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day – all while the Florida Jewish community is reeling from a 40% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2020, antisemitic flyers on homes in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, students reporting harassment in school and online, and more. The lessons of the Holocaust remind us that antisemitism, or any form of bigotry, can escalate quickly from ideas and rhetoric to biased acts, systemic discrimination, violence, and even genocide. We must stop antisemitism and hate in their tracks and ensure that “Never Again” is a promise that we keep.
January 9, 2022: The year has just begun. And already, ADL Florida has received reports of antisemitic and bias-motivated incidents in Florida, which include multiple incidents of online harassment. We have seen vandalism with swastikas in Palm Beach County and northeast Florida. Bomb threats were called into numerous historically black colleges and universities, including one here in Miami. Hate directed towards any of us is directed towards all of us – and so, we must respond in kind and in unity. Let’s all work to fulfill that resolution for 2022.
December 24, 2021: While 2021 presented vast challenges, our Florida community is seizing the opportunity to create a hate-free world. Over the last school year, 1,600 Florida students, teachers and staff participated in ADL workshops to learn strategies to challenge bias, and 56 schools received No Place For Hate designations. Schools throughout the state are accessing ADL’s antisemitism education resources. We don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve to begin our resolutions. If we continue to commit ourselves to a shared vision of a world without antisemitism and bigotry, if we resist the temptation to compartmentalize our compassion, challenges that seemed insurmountable might easily be overcome.
December 12, 2021: During the December holiday season, even the most well-intentioned educators may struggle to acknowledge the joy of the holiday season without excluding students of minority religions. ADL recommends that educators take the opportunity to educate students about diverse holiday traditions. If educators teach about religious holidays (which is constitutionally permitted) and avoid celebrating religious holidays (which is not), they can instill a wonderful holiday lesson – that a welcoming environment for all is a great gift.
November 28, 2021: Last week: At Thanksgiving, we reflect on gratitude. We are thankful for those who speak out and stand up for justice in these trying times, those who expose bigotry to sunlight, those who force hatred to retreat into the shadows, and those who stand up as allies. Our modern Thanksgiving declaration must be that antisemitism is not a problem for the Jewish community alone. Racism is not a problem for the Black community alone. Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia – and all the efforts to marginalize and isolate people – these are all of our problems. Let’s rejoice at our next Thanksgiving that we tackled hate together.
Looking ahead: Hanukkah is a beautiful, eight-day Jewish holiday known as the Festival of Lights. With our #ShineALight campaign, we encourage companies to affirm their commitment to speaking out against antisemitism, include antisemitism education as part of diversity initiatives, and make sure that Jewish employees know that they support a safe, equitable workspace. Companies can take the opportunity to review policies on religious observances so that people of all religions do not have to choose between their convictions and their job. Hanukkah reminds us that even one small light has the power to illuminate darkness – so let’s shine a light and spark hope.
October 3, 2021: This October marks three years since the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history – the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, at which 11 people were murdered. With antisemitic incidents increasing by 40% in Florida in 2020, we must all work diligently to transform grief and anger into whole-of-society action. On Sunday, Oct. 10, ADL is holding our annual Walk Against Hate, an opportunity to move together toward a future without antisemitism, racism and all forms of bigotry. Let’s get to that finish line – because we are stronger than hate. You can join in at walkagainsthate.org/Florida. I look forward to walking alongside you.
September 19, 2021: Twenty years have passed since the worst attack on the United States in its history. We remember and honor the 2,977 people who lost their lives in the attack as well as again thank the many first responders who responded to the attack, many of whom have since died from the lasting effects of working to save the attack’s victims. Twenty years later, with increased international terror and extremism within Florida and across the United States, the Anti-Defamation League continues to commit to enhancing our security and to fighting all forms of extremism.
September 5, 2021: As the Jewish community prepares for the High Holidays, we face myriad continued challenges including a continuation of antisemitic incidents and vitriol from multiple sectors of society, a resurgence of COVID-19, and a domination of extremism in the headlines. The High Holidays offer an opportunity for introspection. So – while we continue to socially distance ourselves, did we find new ways to connect? Did we denounce antisemitism, no matter where it emanated from? Did we stand as allies with others who experienced bigotry? We all can – and must – avail ourselves of every chance to work together to create a hate-free world.
August 29, 2021: As students begin their return to classrooms, educators and administrators should note that a number of Jewish holidays will take place throughout September and early October. ADL encourages schools to make an effort to allow for reasonable accommodation for those who choose to celebrate and observe. Accommodating religious observances is the right thing for schools to do, as it demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and it is often legally required for Florida’s public school students. A calendar of Jewish holidays is available at adl.org, and we invite administrators and educators to reach out to us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 15, 2021: “Our worst fears have been realized tonight … They’re all gone.” With those haunting words, reporter Jim McKay announced to the world on Sept. 5, 1972 that nine Israeli members of the Olympic team who were held hostage in Munich by the Palestinian terror group Black September had been killed, in addition to two Israelis murdered at the Olympic Village. At this year’s Tokyo Olympics, for the first time, a moment of silence was held, inclusive of the Israeli team. Although decades too long in the making, commemorating the victims highlights the very ideals of the Olympics and the depravity of extremism.
August 8, 2021: The rise in hate incidents over the past year has been alarming for us all, including our youth. As students prepare to return to school, it is vital that they have the tools to stand up powerfully against hate. Last week, dozens of Florida educators and students came together for ADL Florida’s No Place For Hate® Summit. They were inspired by Palm Beach County Schools Teacher of the Year Toshimi Abe-Janiga and Miami Dolphins’ Senior Director of Community Relations and Youth Programs Rashauna Hamilton. These students and educators will be empowered to address bias, bullying, inclusion and allyship that are crucial to our diverse community.
July 25, 2021: Last week marked the 27th anniversary of the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’ largest Jewish community center, the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA). In the attack, 85 men, women, and children were murdered and to date, no arrests have been made in connection with this atrocity against the Jewish community. Amidst a rising tide of antisemitism here in Florida, across the country, and globally, we must remember the victims of the AMIA attack and honor their memories by pursuing justice and combating antisemitism and hatred wherever we can.
July 11, 2021: We just marked Independence Day, when we demonstrate our national patriotism and hope for unity. However, our growing divisions are deeply felt. We must recognize that hate toward any of us is hate toward all – and we must work urgently to counter this hate. We need to speak out against antisemitism, racism and all forms of bigotry not only when it rears its head toward a group we belong to, but also when it targets any marginalized group, which is why I am proud to begin leading the ADL Florida Region. We must stand united, so that we never fall divided.
June 27, 2021: Antisemitic incidents spiked during last month’s conflict between Hamas and Israel. Jewish Americans were harassed and assaulted in Los Angeles, New York and here in Florida. A recent ADL survey shows that 75% of American Jews are more concerned about antisemitism since the fighting, and 41% are more fearful for their safety. While there are acceptable forms of criticism of Israeli policies, the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state crosses the line into antisemitism. We must stand united against those who would target Jews for acts of hatred simply because they are Jewish. This is antithetical to our shared American values.
June 11, 2021: As we mark Pride Month, we celebrate the LGBTQ community and the strides taken to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. We also recognize the continued challenges and rampant discrimination that the LGBTQ community is subject to, as seen with the anti-transgender youth sports ban that was signed into law by Gov. DeSantis as Pride Month began. Societies built on empathy and inclusivity should never set one group apart. We support transgender youth in Florida and transgender people everywhere, because discrimination toward any of us is discrimination toward all of us.
May 29, 2021: In 2020, ADL tracked a 40% increase in antisemitic incidents in Florida. The current escalating incidents against the Jewish community are terrifying. Elected officials, law enforcement, community leaders and social media companies must take immediate action against this abhorrent surge of antisemitism. Harassing and assaulting Jewish individuals and vandalizing Jewish institutions have nothing to do with disagreeing with the policies of the state of Israel. We urge anyone who experiences or witnesses an incident of antisemitism or hate to report it to law enforcement where appropriate, and to ADL at adl.org/reportincident. Enough is enough.
May 9, 2021: Antisemitic incidents in Florida rose by a staggering 40% in 2020, with 127 harassment and vandalism incidents, compared to 91 incidents in 2019. While in-person interactions were limited due to COVID-19, we quickly learned the term “Zoom bombing.” Haters found their way into our religious and educational spaces in ways never seen before, like the funeral of a loved one in North Florida, Shabbat services for various synagogues, kindergarten classes and more. The continued rise in antisemitism that ADL tracks remains a threat not only for the Jewish community, but should alarm us all.
April 25, 2021: We might have hoped that, faced with a pandemic, massive revenue losses and increased attention to addressing systemic racism and hate incidents, our leaders in Tallahassee would intensely focus – albeit with debate – on advancing legislation that favors our diverse population’s needs. And yet, unnecessary and unconstitutional legislation about freedom of assembly, bills discriminating against female transgender athletes, and voter suppression measures filled the dockets. Soon thereafter, headlines, social media feeds, and dinner conversations were inundated with divisive and polarizing rhetoric. Our democracy is supported by freedom for all; it is curtailed by bigotry. Our elected officials must lead us – not divide us.
April 11, 2021: Last week we observed Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, to reflect not only on the indescribable atrocities committed in years past, but also so that we can be reminded of the need to interrupt hate today. We know the deadly consequences when hate is left unchecked. Florida has a mandate to include Holocaust education in public schools – the standards should ultimately provide opportunities to explore this history and apply lessons to today’s society. Students should learn to firmly and frequently take action against bigotry and elevate our shared values of equality and diversity.
March 28, 2021: This week, as the Jewish community marks Passover, we will tell our children about the strength and leadership that was needed thousands of years ago to stand up against cruelty, and firmly declare that freedom from bondage and hatred is divine. And we will tell them that, because we remember our ancestors’ suffering, we must stand up against tyranny, extend a hand of friendship to those seeking refuge and advocate for the rights of those whose voices are silenced or ignored. May they truly understand that the first plague described in the story of the exodus was that of oppression itself.
March 11, 2021:Since the coronavirus pandemic began, there has been a surge in racist and hateful behavior targeting Asian-Americans. In the last year, reported anti-Asian hate crimes have increased significantly – from harassment with racial slurs to violent assaults, including the killing of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco. ADL urges Congress to prioritize and condemn the rise in this unfounded, vile anti-Asian hate; hold perpetrators accountable; and use their positions of leadership to support and stand in solidarity with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities.
February 28, 2021: If you are a victim in Florida of a hate crime, and you are targeted because of your gender, gender identity, or disability – your attacker’s charges would not be subject to any hate crime enhancement penalty. The ADL-led Florida Hate Crime Coalition, which includes more than 330 leaders and groups and 30 corporate allies, calls on our legislators in Tallahassee to amend Florida’s hate crime law by passing House Bill 43/Senate Bill 194, adding these categories. To take action in ADL’s latest efforts on this legislation, please text HateFreeFL to 52886.
February 14, 2021: Today, we commemorate the lives of those who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. These families and their communities will forever remember this infamous day. Shortly after the attack, conspiracy theorists – including white supremacists – spread claims that student activists were “crisis actors,” and even used antisemitic tropes. These conspiracy theories gained new attention recently with the release of videos of a now-freshman congresswoman harassing Parkland student advocate David Hogg while in Washington, D.C.. We can honor the MSD victims by standing up against these messages before they become mainstream, and even find their ways into elected office.
January 29, 2021: This past week, the Jewish community marked International Holocaust Memorial Day, and Tu B’Shvat – a Jewish ‘Earth Day.’ As we face a resurgence of antisemitism and extremism, we must affirm that “Never Again” is not a slogan, but a resounding call to action. And, with the overlapping of these two important dates, we can approach the fight against antisemitism and bigotry from a place of hope. When we plant seeds, we commit to watering and cultivating them to bear fruit. We plant the seeds today against hate, so our children can reap a world free of its horrific impact.
January 17, 2021: In his August 1963 speech in Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence … we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” These words still ring true, and we are, again, at a crossroads. We must remind ourselves of what unites us and work together to rebuild this nation. We must strengthen our allyship, civility and our resolve to go beyond partisanship, holding steadfast to America’s indivisibility – with soul force.
December 20, 2020: Since Thanksgiving, we’ve seen an unacceptable string of antisemitic incidents: A Boynton Beach couple, after mailing their Judaica items, found them vandalized with antisemitic language. A woman was subjected to antisemitic harassment by another patron while grocery shopping in Boca Raton. A man and his son having ice cream in Miami Beach were accosted with antisemitic threats by a man who had multiple knives on him. We’ve seen white supremacist propaganda in Jupiter, Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, Cocoa Beach, Orlando and Sunrise. Yet, underreporting remains an issue. Report antisemitic or bias-motivated incidents to law enforcement, and to ADL at adl.org/reportincidents.
December 6, 2020: As Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, which begins on Dec. 10, we remember with sadness two antisemitic attacks during the holiday last year – the horrific stabbing attack at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, N.Y., and the shooting at a kosher store in Jersey City, N.J. While Jews were targeted, the victims in Jersey City also included a Hispanic man and a police officer. In other words: Hatred touches us all. We urge senators Rubio and Scott to cosponsor the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which would authorize grants for law enforcement to promote hate crime training, prevention, and data collection.
November 22, 2020: Our strength as a nation is rooted in our First Amendment and the ability to engage in civil discourse. Florida boasts four fellows in The Aspen Institute and ADL Civil Society Fellowship: Jason Jenkins, senior vice president of communications and community affairs, Miami Dolphins (2021); Saif Ishoof, vice president for engagement, FIU (2021); Deputy Chief Patrick Robinson, Sarasota Police Department (2020); and Samah Abukhodeir, managing partner of The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm (2019). These fellows are part of a diverse cadre selected for their potential to generate creative, nonpartisan, novel community approaches to the most pressing issues in our society today.
November 8, 2020: We just witnessed one of the most consequential elections in the history of our nation. And yet, as of this time, the outcome of the U.S. presidential race is still undetermined. As the final votes are tallied, we reiterate our long-standing calls that every vote counts and every vote must be counted. ADL will stand up vigilantly against antisemitism and extremism, as we have for over 107 years. If extremists try to exploit this moment of national uncertainty, to spread words of hate and to act out online and on the ground, we will be there to support our community.
October 25, 2020: The right to vote is central to the success of our democracy. In 2020, voting takes on an added layer of complexity due to COVID-19 as we grapple with the decisions about when, where and how to vote. These questions can pose a special dilemma for members of marginalized communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic due to longstanding and systemic racial inequities. We need to find meaningful ways to make progress in dismantling systemic racism and inequality. Ensuring safe and accessible voting is a critical and effective prerequisite. Make sure to report any bias or disenfranchisement you witness.
October 11, 2020: In denying review of a case, Supreme Court justices Thomas and Alito recently issued a troubling opinion characterizing the landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which ruled that same-sex couples have the right to civil marriage, as an affront to religious liberty. To be clear, that decision in no way limits Americans’ religious beliefs about or observances of marriage. Our nation’s religious freedom protections are a shield for faith, not a sword to harm or discriminate against others. The justices’ opinion is a deeply troubling rebuke of binding court precedent and individual civil rights.
September 27, 2020: As I sat with my family for Rosh Hashanah, news broke about the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A pioneering Jewish woman, her impact on jurisprudence, gender equality and civil rights was formidable. She once said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” As we find ourselves in ever-polarized times, we should pay heed and stand up for the policies we believe in; do so in a manner that reflects not only your personal values, but with the integrity that you hope to inspire in others.
September 13, 2020: Looking ahead: As the Jewish community prepares for the High Holidays, we find ourselves mired in the convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, increased antisemitic incidents and significant political polarization. How then can we sincerely wish for and expect a ‘sweet’ new year? We can denounce antisemitism whenever and wherever we encounter it. We can push for reforms that address systemic racism in our society. We can relegate homophobia to the dustbin of history. If we stand up for ourselves with strength and determination, and do so just as devotedly for others, sweetness can be a shared experience.
August 28, 2020: Many Florida students will attend class virtually this fall. Bias, bullying and cyberbullying can follow them online, and leave a harmful, lasting impact. Seemingly innocuous aspects of virtual learning, like chat functions, can be used for sharing hurtful comments and documents. Parents and educators must have meaningful conversations with their children about these issues and explain that there are real-life consequences. Educators and administrators should proactively review their policies and share them with parents and students, so they are ready to take action. Ensuring a safe learning environment, even virtually, must be a priority.
August 16, 2020: A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a North Florida transgender student who fought the St. John’s County School Board’s efforts to bar transgender students from equal restroom access. The court ruled that the district violated Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ADL was proud to join a legal brief in this case. We urge educators and administrators throughout Florida to seize on this momentum and seek every effort to stand with transgender and gender non-conforming students. No one – especially not our children – should face discrimination because of who they are.
July 31, 2020: John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Charles Evers all passed away in the last two weeks. Yes, they were icons in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but they did not limit themselves to inspiration. They galvanized action in others – difficult, but necessary action – what Congressman Lewis deemed “good trouble.” In a speech to ADL leaders, he said, “We have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, to create a society free of hate … We must respect the dignity and the worth of every human being.” Let’s carry through with their visions and get in some good trouble.
July 19, 2020: It is truly disturbing to see anti-Semitic rhetoric elevated and shared on social media and by those in the spotlight. Whether it is the Philadelphia Eagles’ DeSean Jackson tweeting a (mis-)quote by Adolf Hitler, or entertainer Nick Cannon tweeting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories stemming from Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam – they should apologize, to be sure. They should also dedicate themselves to becoming educated about anti-Semitism, learn why those tropes are offensive, and make commitments to share lessons learned publicly – because we are stronger when we stand together in the fight for justice.
July 5, 2020: While vigorous debate on policy matters should be encouraged, elected officials should set the bar high for the tone of our society’s civil discourse. In a recent post on Twitter, Representative Anthony Sabatini used ‘Mask-Nazis’ to refer to those who support wearing masks to prevent #COVID19. Invoking the Nazis in an attempt to delegitimize political opponents has no place in civil discourse, and trivializes the murder of six million Jews and millions of others. Whether on COVID-19 regulations or any other policy, Florida’s leaders should be able to demonstrate the strength of their arguments without appealing to Nazi references.
June 21, 2020: Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with lower federal courts in confirming that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. ADL was proud to join a coalition legal brief in the case supporting LGBTQ rights. The Florida legislature should do the same for the workplace, housing, and public accommodations by enacting the Competitive Workforce Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to our State’s Civil Rights Act. All Floridians deserve equal protection under the law.
June 7, 2020: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. bears words from his I Have A Dream speech: ‘Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope’. Protests and civil unrest here and across the U.S. are symptoms of long-festering wounds, and have put America’s state of despair in the spotlight. We must hold on ever tighter to our hope for justice. If we are indeed to find a measure of justice for the memory of George Floyd, it must be rooted in the understanding that bigotry towards any of us is bigotry towards all of us.
May 24, 2020: ADL’s 2019 Audit of Antisemitic incidents reflected 2,107 acts of harassment, vandalism, and assault — the most since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in the United States in 1979. This reflects a 12% rise nationally over the previous year, and a 20% rise in Florida — up to 91 incidents. This rise strongly reinforces the need for louder voices of condemnation by leaders and officials, and more intense and effective education efforts about antisemitism and all forms of bigotry. These acts threaten, intimidate, and harass individual targets and the entire community. Antisemitic or bias-motivated incidents should be reported to ADL at adl.org/reportincident.
May 10, 2020: In recent weeks, some extremists have participated in or held anti-quarantine protests, carrying signs with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans. In San Diego, a man decided to wear a KKK hood as a facemask when he went grocery shopping. Anti-Asian xenophobia and anti-Semitic Zoom-bombing are rampant on the internet. We must not let the history of this time period be written with hate and sown with the seeds of division and discord. It is precisely now that we must demonstrate our capacity for compassion and push hate and extremism into the margins.
April 26, 2020: This past week, we marked Holocaust Memorial Day separated from our communities and from Survivors – dozens of whom have succumbed to COVID-19. Given the hate and antisemitism we’ve seen these past months, we must ensure – now more than ever – that our children understand that ‘never again’ is more than a catchphrase – it is a call to action. To that end, Congress should pass Holocaust Education legislation, and our school boards implement the Florida Holocaust Education mandate. Parents: loudly condemn antisemitism and all forms of hate, be an ally to anyone victimized, and make sure your children see your example.
April 12, 2020: Three holidays observed this month – Passover, Easter, and Ramadan – are largely built around people coming together for prayer, shared meals, and a sharing of history. This year, the holidays will be marked by physical separation. Through harassment, hateful rhetoric, and even zoombombing, we have started to define ourselves versus ‘others’. This is a time to contemplate themes in the holidays – unity, memory, freedom – and strive to be inclusive of who ‘we’ are. If we do so, our children will one day gather for the holidays with their children, and remember that we collectively defied fear and hatred, and persevered.
March 29, 2020: As our children adjust to the ‘new normal’ as we deal with COVID-19, they’re spending more time online – where antisemitism and bigotry can thrive. Parents can talk to them about why it’s important to learn about diversity especially now. ADL’s book of the month series has age-appropriate literature, many of which can be accessed by Kindle or other book readers. Each book has a discussion guide for parents and educators. The books teach about bias and prejudice, promote respect for diversity, and encourage social action. These resources can be accessed at: florida.adl.org/botm/.
March 15, 2020: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, antisemitic conspiracy theories have spread widely, and reports of discrimination and violence against Asian-Americans across the country have surged. This latest example of scapegoating provides a teachable moment to discuss how groups of people are blamed for a problem in society. We should be able to discuss the spread of coronavirus without resorting to stereotypes and xenophobia. When something like the coronavirus makes the headlines, there is bound to be fear. Teaching your children or students about the disease as well as the impact of scapegoating can lead to empathy for all people.
March 1, 2020: ADL just released its Murder and Extremist report for 2019, showing that 38 people in the U.S. had been killed by far-right extremists. The FBI recently arrested a Spring Hill, FL man, one of four accused in a neo-Nazi harassment plot. Haters are among us, often disguising as patriots. Seeking to destroy others in the name of an ideology is not the American way. What makes us stronger is our ability to embrace diversity – in every aspect of our lives – religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, and yes, political views as well.
February 17, 2020: A ‘Parental Rights’ bill is being considered by the Florida legislature. If passed, parents could opt their children out of state-mandated Holocaust education, or even censor materials on the subject. Palm Beach County School District is dealing with the aftermath of a Principal who remarked to a parent about the Holocaust that “…not all parents want their students exposed so they will not be and I can’t force that issue.” An unintended consequence of this legislation would be providing cover to those who would like to deny the Holocaust.
February 2, 2020: Last week marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A recent Pew poll showed that while most adult Americans know about the Holocaust, fewer than half can answer questions about how many Jews were murdered or how Hitler came to power. The lessons of the Holocaust remind us that failure to condemn anti-Semitism can lead to tragic consequences. If hate isn’t countered, it can escalate to biased acts, systemic discrimination, violence, and genocide. Educators and families must teach children to stop this escalation and make it more difficult for hate to flourish.
January 5, 2020: In the aftermath of horrific anti-Semitic attacks in New York, ADL has called on public officials and local community leaders across the nation to speak out loudly and in unison to demand meaningful change to better protect the Jewish community. Today, Sunday, January 5, ADL is cosponsoring a ‘No Hate, No Fear’ Solidarity March in New York City against anti-Semitism. While we are witnessing a resurgence of anti-Semitism, we are taking a stand that this will not be our new normal. On Sunday, show your solidarity by posting on social media with #JewishAndProud, #NoPlaceForHate or #StandTogether
December 15, 2019: The December holiday season is a time when public school children of minority religions or religious beliefs can feel like outsiders. Acknowledging the season without excluding those children is a yearly challenge for schools and teachers. Educators should take care to not cross the line between teaching about religious holidays (which is constitutionally permitted) and celebrating religious holidays (which is not). There can be no better holiday message than to create welcoming environments for all.
December 8, 2019: Expressions of anti-Semitism in the U.K.’s Labour Party, now led by Jeremy Corbyn, have been rising. Nearly half of the British Jewish community is willing to consider emigrating should Labour win in the upcoming election, according to recent polling. In unprecedented pre-election comments, the Chief Rabbi of the U.K. gave a sharp rebuke to anti-Semitism within the party. Politicians everywhere should know that anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry must always be denounced. This is especially true in the U.K., where just last week a Rabbi was assaulted leaving synagogue by teens screaming ‘Kill the Jews’.
November 24, 2019: This past week marked Transgender Day Of Remembrance. Sadly, seven Black transgender women have been murdered in Florida over the last year and a half, and several of those murders are being actively investigated as potential hate crimes. This must stop now. Anyone who perpetrates a bias-motivated act of violence wasn’t born with hate in their hearts. Hatred is learned, and can be unlearned. So – never pass an opportunity to be an ally or to challenge bigotry. It only takes one person to make a difference.
October 27, 2019: On Sunday, October 27th, we will mourn those lost one year ago in Pittsburgh. Beforehand, the attacker shared anti-Semitic and biased views online. On Monday, October 28th, ADL Florida is holding No Place For Hate Day, and we are encouraging people to go online and share an image with a message conveying equity, equality, and acceptance, with the hashtag #noplaceforhate. Let’s stand firmly united against anti-Semitism and for justice and fair treatment for all.
October 21, 2019: On October 27, 2018, a white supremacist killed 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. The shooter allegedly told police that he wanted to kill Jews, whom he condemned for bringing immigrants into the country. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the attack, let us remember Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger, and all who have suffered acts of anti-Semitism and hate.
September 29, 2019: Every fall, students and employees who observe the Jewish High Holidays must resolve scheduling conflicts. Accommodating those who observe these — or other religious observances — is not only the right thing for schools and employers to do as it creates a welcoming learning environment by demonstrating a commitment to diversity. It is often legally required. However, teachers, professors, or employers should be informed about holiday absences as early as possible and ask for any important information or material that will be provided during the days or classes missed, so they can enjoy a happy and sweet new year.
September 8, 2019: On September 9, 1957, President Eisenhower signed into law the first civil rights bill to pass Congress since Reconstruction. Sixty-two years later, the fight for justice and fair treatment for all persists. Recently, forty-eight Congressmen signed onto an amicus brief to a case before the Supreme Court arguing that LGBTQ people shouldn’t be protected when facing employment discrimination. Under Florida law, LGBTQ people can still be fired, evicted, or denied service. A push for federal law to allow for LGBTQ people to be fired simply because of who they are is both heartbreaking and perilous for our democracy.
August 5, 2019: ADL is proud to partner with a record-breaking 250 public, private, and charter schools in Broward county to be part of ADL’s nationwide No Place for Hate® (NPFH) program. NPFH supports schools in taking the lead on improving and maintaining an inclusive and equitable school climate. As modern technology has changed the face of bullying behavior causing 24/7 victimization, anonymity of aggressors, and far-reaching audience impact, NPFH® trains students, staff, teachers, administrators, and parents through facilitated workshops, and offers free resources for combating intolerance. More than anything – it imparts students with the tools necessary to be allies to each other.
July 28, 2019: Twenty-nine years ago this week, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. It ensured equal treatment and access to employment opportunities and public accommodations for those with disabilities. While the ADA’s passage was a milestone towards equality, it didn’t end discrimination. For example, the employment rate for people without a disability is nearly double the percentage of those with a disability. The fight for the rights of people with disabilities has been waged for decades, as pressure from veterans and civil rights organizations compounded. It is paramount that we recognize that the struggle for equality and recognition continues.
July 14, 2019: The recent events concerning the former Principal of Spanish River H.S. demand we take a closer look at Holocaust education in our state. The mandate for Holocaust education, passed in 1994, has no reporting mechanism, nor any apparatus for the state to monitor compliance. Incidents of vandalism targeting Jews and Jewish institutions, using Holocaust and Nazi references, are increasing, and Holocaust denial and the trivialization of Nazi atrocities are becoming normalized. The need for Holocaust education for our children is great – Florida’s leaders must take action to meet this need and ensure the success of the 25 year-old-mandate.
June 30, 2019: The question of whether citizenship should be included in the 2020 census was answered last week, and we at ADL wholeheartedly agree with the Court’s decision to block the question from appearing in the census. It is clear that the motives behind the inclusion of this question in the census are un-American and meant to provoke fear. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and if it is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people, then the inclusion of immigrants – without prejudice – must remain as a staple of our continued democracy.
June 16, 2019: After the horrific attack at Pulse, ADL Florida committed to redoubling our efforts to teach respect for all, monitor all forms of extremism, and work for comprehensive hate crime laws and better reporting of hate crimes. Three years later, we have made progress, but recent homophobic comments from some Florida leaders threaten to set back those strides. Meanwhile, the state legislature has failed to move forward a bill that would include gender identity in the state’s hate crime statute. LGBTQ people can still be fired, evicted, or denied service. ADL has much work to do – and will continue the long fight for equality for all.
June 2, 2019: As many students across Florida prepare to head to summer camps, administrators and counselors should remember that bullying and bias are not confined to the academic school year. Spending all day together or in the case of overnight camp, sharing a bunk, is a great opportunity to get to know people who are different, learn and appreciate those differences, and become more culturally competent. Staff can empower campers by teaching them to become allies to each other. Making allies will build confidence and a respect for diversity that will last a lifetime.
May 19, 2019: While we’ve seen significant progress towards legal equality for all, there have been setbacks. Congress will soon vote on the Equality Act, designed to counter discrimination against LGBTQ Americans who remain largely unprotected from discrimination in 30 states – including Florida – in education, health, housing, public spaces, or employment. Lawmakers in many states are depriving LGBTQ Americans of their civil rights or considering legislation that would sanction discrimination. Even hate crime law in Florida fails to cover gender identity. Our children pledge allegiance each day to a Republic that stands for liberty and justice for all; Congress must do the same.
May 5, 2019: South Florida lost a true champion of equality – former Sun Sentinel Columnist and Editorial Board Member Gary Stein. In a June 2011 column on arguments made by opponents to gay marriage, he wrote, “It’s when you try to decide how other people should live their lives that you lose me.” He understood that while hate and bigotry will never be erased from the hearts and minds of every single person, we can all stand up to acts of discrimination. May his memory – and his archives – be a blessing.
Looking ahead: This was a difficult week. ADL released our annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents, with 1,879 incidents reported in the U.S. last year – including the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Next year’s audit will include last Saturday’s horrific attack at Chabad of Poway. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote Thursday re Holocaust Memorial Day: “There is a direct line that can be drawn from Pittsburgh and Poway and Charlottesville to Hitler’s gas chambers. The connecting tissue… is anti-Semitism.” Evil flourishes when those who witness it don’t speak up. Evil is loud right now – we must be louder.
April 28, 2019: Bias-motivated crime and terror don’t only impact intended targets; they affect entire communities. Our society, too often, measures by quantity. When we learn of lives taken by extremism in Sri Lanka or Christchurch, in Charleston or in Pittsburgh, we tend to hear numbers of victims and gauge the loss. The impact of hate is personal and exponential… but so is the impact of empathy and solidarity. This week marks Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day. We pledge to ‘never forget’ so we can remind the world of who was lost, and the power of being an ally.
April 14, 2019: The Jewish community is preparing for the Passover holiday, where we’ll recount the Exodus from Egypt. In every generation, we are obligated to see ourselves as if we personally had come out of Egypt – as refugees. In our generation, while there are legitimate issues regarding immigration policy to be contested with – the Jewish community knows the consequence of turning people away when leaders share a fallacy that “our country is full”. Let us remember that many of our ancestors came escaping religious oppression, famine, or wars, finding open arms and borders. Failing to remember this is the true crisis.
April 7, 2019: Elie Wiesel said “[Indifference is] a strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil.” As we enter Genocide Awareness Month, examine your actions and inactions, because this ‘unnatural state’ can spread like a plague. Opposing genocide might seem to require great courage, but the sound of silence can kill. Standing up for ‘others’ must be our culture. We must practice, each day, to shine a light on marginalized people. Then we must captivate society with our compassion – because we can.
March 31, 2019: Last week: In the aftermath of the horrific white supremacist terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand, ADL attended solidarity services here in Florida and around the nation. Yet, when people are targeted simply for who they are – ‘thoughts and prayers’ simply don’t suffice; the victim is the whole community. There is a traditional Jewish song that came to my mind – “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to sit together in unity.” Learn who your Muslim brothers and sisters are, challenge your biases, and ask what you can do to be a better ally – and sit together.
Looking ahead: Social media has the potential to unite us together or tear us apart. As the white supremacist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, fades from the headlines – we must remember that the terrorist who murdered 50 Muslim worshippers and injured 50 more weaponized social media platforms by promoting a manifesto of hate, and livestreaming the attack. Facebook and Instagram, for their part, have indicated that they’ll now ban white nationalism and separatism on their platforms. They are to be applauded. However – social media companies should not wait for tragedies like this to implement long overdue policy changes.
March 17, 2019: According to a new ADL report, white supremacists are exploring how to remain anonymous while still advancing their ideologies. They’ve increased propaganda efforts, which maximize attention while preventing exposure of individuals. 2018 data indicates a 182% increase over 2017, with 1,187 propaganda cases reported. They also demonstrate that the tactic of distributing propaganda on college campuses has shifted, with only a moderate increase of 9%, compared to a 572% jump in off-campus incidents. Florida is among the top 7 states for white supremacist propaganda incidents. If you spot hateful flyers or vandalism, report it to police and to ADL.
March 10, 2019: March 31st marks international Transgender Day of Visibility. At a time when transgender people are highly vulnerable to sanctioned discrimination and bias-motivated incidents, including a ban on serving in the military, we must double down on our efforts for all to be treated fairly. Why is visibility necessary for the transgender community? It’s too easy in 2019 America to forget that they are our neighbors, community members, and family, and their human and civil rights are our rights as well. To the transgender community, I say – we see you. To those who support discrimination – we see you as well.
March 3, 2019: The people of Venezuela have long suffered under the vicious totalitarian regimes of Maduro and Chavez. The country’s Jewish population has steadily declined, and many have sought refuge here in South Florida. Like all Venezuelans, they’ve suffered the consequences of a failed government, and also experienced anti-Semitism propagated by the government as well as attacks on the Jewish community. The Maduro and Chavez administrations have often used anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories. Venezuela’s situation is and has been dire, so it is not surprising – but exceedingly alarming – that those in power have chosen to use Jews as a scapegoat.
February 14, 2019: Three people in Davie were apprehended for allegedly perpetrating a criminal scheme targeting undocumented immigrants. Law enforcement believes that the perpetrators kidnapped, beat, and robbed their victims as they believed they would not report crimes to the police. These hideous crimes, targeting people who are in fear of seeking aid or in coming forward as witnesses, illustrate why the enforcement of immigration laws by local police jeopardizes public safety for each and every one of us.
February 23, 2019: Three years ago, ADL formed the Florida Hate Crime Coalition to make Florida’s hate crime law comprehensive and protect all Floridians. However, gender, physical disability, and gender identity are not covered. What does that say about our state? Are women, people with physical disabilities, and transgender people any less worthy of hate crime protections? There is no legitimate reason to oppose this legislation. We urge legislators from both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor the bill and get it enacted this session.
February 10, 2019: While the extent to which the Parkland shooter’s extremist beliefs played a role in the horrific attack at MSD High School isn’t clear, the possibility of some degree of ideological influence remains. According to the Public Safety Commission report, he had an interest in Hitler, the KKK, and Nazis. He was known to use extremist phrases, had white supremacist images on his phone, and adorned some personal belongings – including the ammunition magazines he used – with swastikas. Education officials locally and nationally should increase funding for promoting inclusive school climates, anti-bias education, and hate crime prevention in schools.
January 31, 2019: Anti-Semitic incidents happen all over the country, and unfortunately Florida was not immune to the trends in 2018. Over the past two years we have tracked 197 extremist-related incidents and events in Florida, ranging from white supremacist literature appearing in neighborhoods to terror plots, rallies, and even mass shootings. We counted 98 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 alone. While the vast majority of Floridians reject hatred and extremism, the numbers are a reminder that we must double down in our efforts to stop hate before it results in violence. We can only eradicate hatred when good people stand up and say no to hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
January 20, 2019: Last week, I wrote about the governor’s decision to extend workplace protections to many, but not the LGBT community. This week, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried became Florida’s first statewide elected official to protect public employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge every state agency to follow suit. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, many shared his famed quote, hoping that his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Florida officials should protect their employees on the content of their character, not their intrinsic natures.
January 13, 2019: Before the November election, I wrote a SF100 piece urging every Floridian to support Amendment 4. ADL is thrilled that it passed, and 1.4 million Floridians can now be added to the voter rolls. This is the beginning of the largest enfranchisement of U.S. citizens in more than 50 years. ADL has historically been a strong voice for voting rights, dating to our efforts to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I now urge all those who were forbidden from voting – and indeed, all Floridians – to register to vote, and exercise this fundamental American freedom.
December 2, 2018:As we once again turn our focus to the complexities of comprehensive immigration reform, conspiracy theories are seeping into policy discussions. A current myth says that terrorists infiltrate the U.S. through Mexico. According to a 2015 State Department report, “there are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, despite several erroneous reports to the contrary during 2014.” In fact, the vast majority of U.S. residents linked to terror since 2002 are American citizens. Instead of forwarding falsehoods, first reach for facts. The stakes are too great – for those seeking U.S. citizenship, and for the society they seek to join.
November 18, 2018: After the last attacks by Hamas, I downloaded the ‘Red Alert’ app, which warns Israelis of incoming missiles from Gaza. The app sounded 400 times between Sunday and Tuesday. When I listened, I counted to 15. Israelis can have as little as 15 seconds from hearing a siren to find shelter. A Palestinian man working in Israel was killed, dozens were injured, a bus was hit just after Israeli soldiers disembarked, and there was great damage to homes and businesses. I pray to never hear the Red Alert app again; even more so – that missiles will be turned into plowshares.
November 9, 2018: The vicious attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue reminds us that an attack against any of us is an attack against all. ADL identified 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, an increase of 57 percent over 2016. In K-12 schools alone, we saw a 94 percent increase compared to the previous year. We cannot continue to fail our children. We must monitor and expose hate groups, train law enforcement, advocate to officials, harness technology for good, strengthen laws, and educate our youth to stop hate before it begins. Report bias motivated crimes to law enforcement when necessary, and to ADL at: http://www.adl.org/take-action/report-an-incident.
October 13, 2018: On a cold Wyoming night in October, 1998, a 21-year-old man was taken to the outskirts of Laramie by two men. They tortured him, and left him tied to a fence in freezing temperatures. He died on October 12. His name was Matthew Shepard, and he was murdered because he was gay. Yet, twenty years since his murder, homophobic attacks continue – including unsolved murders of transgender women in north/central Florida. I’m not dejected. I’m fired up. With ADL, I advocated for the Federal Hate Crime Protection Act that bears Matthew’s name. I’ll continue to advocate and educate, in Matthew’s memory, for all of us.
August 19, 2018: Michael Drejka was charged by the Pinellas and Pasco County State Attorney’s Office with manslaughter in the July shooting death of Markeis McGlockton. This is an important step in the right direction towards justice. During a dispute that developed into an altercation, Drejka shot McGlockton, and invoked Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law as his defense. Like the homicide of Trayvon Martin, this fatal shooting requires us to answer a disturbing, broader question: does Florida’s stand-your ground law give cover to dire consequences of implicit bias?” In its next session, Florida’s legislature must revisit this expansive, subjective law.
August 5, 2018: There has been a wave of murders of transgender women of color in north and central Florida. Fear that the murders might be connected has gripped the transgender community. Debate has ensued, as some investigating law enforcement did not accurately list the victims’ gender identity on official reports. Whether these homicides are connected or not, whether law enforcement has made errors or not – the overarching message that needs to be reinforced for the transgender community, and any community living in fear over being targeted simply for who they are: you have allies. You will be protected. You are not alone.
July 22, 2018: The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for migrants seeking to cross the border has resulted in the separation of thousands of families and has created a humanitarian crisis at the border. While a federal judge has ordered the reunification, over 2,000 migrant children remain separated from their parents and are being detained in over 100 different locations around the country. Harrowing reports reveal the emotional toll and abuse suffered by parents and children in immigration detention. The administration must quickly reunite these families and end the cruel policies that created this crisis.
Looking ahead: Last week law enforcement undoubtedly saved numerous lives in Miami-Beach by thwarting the arson of a condo complex. The alleged perpetrator said he wanted “to kill all the Jews” in the complex. Although this is compelling evidence for hate crime charges, the suspect’s receipt of an eviction notice could be an additional motive that undermines such charges. If Florida’s hate crime law definitively covered mixed-motive hate crimes, prosecuting this case as a hate crime would be a non-issue. This case is the poster child for making the hate crime law comprehensive, including coverage for mixed motive crimes.
July 1, 2018: I am profoundly disappointed by the Supreme Court’s misguided ruling upholding the ‘Muslim travel ban’. America means equity and inclusivity. It means inviting people from around the world to benefit from and enhance the American experience. It was the Supreme Court that allowed our nation to incarcerate more than 100,000 American citizens and others of Japanese descent in the 1940s, because a whole group was thought of as suspects. While we must be smart about protecting our nation’s security, those safeguards must reflect reality — not prejudice.
June 18, 2018: It’s been two years since the massacre at Pulse. The LGBTQ community should know that they don’t stand alone — not in mourning, nor in activism for equality. Although some municipal laws have been passed and implemented, there is no state law preventing someone for being fired, evicted, or denied service because they are LGBTQ. There’s no state law mandating an enhanced penalty if a hate crime is perpetrated against someone based on their gender identity. As we mark PRIDE Month, let us declare that while we can’t bring back the 49 beautiful souls taken — we can still make them PROUD.
June 3, 2018: As students across Florida finish their spring semesters and many head to summer camps, administrators and camp counselors should remember that name-calling, bullying, harassment, and bias are not confined to the academic school year. Camps can proactively incorporate lessons and activities to build empathy and understanding. Empower your campers by teaching them how to safely report or intervene, and provide them the opportunity to become allies to each other. Making friends and memories at camp is good, but making allies will build confidence and a respect for diversity that will last a lifetime.
May 20, 2018: The U.S. joined the international community in congratulating the State of Israel and the State of Palestine on their 70th anniversaries. These two great nations, living side by side in peace, are beacons for so many who have sought coexistence, and yet stumbled. I would have loved to have written this as a full op-ed. Israel’s 70th anniversary celebration and the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem were marred by the terrorist group Hamas, which cloaked its efforts to infiltrate into Israel as a peaceful protest. For now, I celebrate Israel’s anniversary. I pray to write about celebrating peace.
May 6, 2018: In the Snapchat app, a Sarasota-area high school student posted a picture of himself asking his intended prom date: “If I was black I’d be picking cotton…but I’m white, so I’m picking you for prom?” This may seem shocking, but racism and anti-Semitism are awash throughout social media apps, video games, and the like. We work with internet and social media companies, but parents must be active participants in our children’s social media use. If we stay on the sidelines — bigotry will be their virtual reality.
April 29, 2018: I am looking forward to participating in the community event #TogetherWeRemember at Sanborn Square in Boca Raton. The Interfaith Coalition of Boca Raton, ADL, and others will show that we are stronger when we work to fight hate together. #TogetherWeRemember is a grassroots action movement to stand up to identity based violence. As April is Genocide Awareness Month, we must recognize that bigotry does not occur spontaneously. It must be nurtured to advance. We must stand up to hate at its most benign levels — because even they are in fact malignant.
April 22, 2018: I’m very proud to be the Florida chair of an organization that steps in and steps up after an incident like what occurred at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. Along with like-minded organizations, ADL will be preparing an anti-bias curriculum for Starbucks’ May 29th training. But how many incidents like this occur each day? Every business, school, and home should commit to a long-term process to recognize the implicit biases that we all have. Bias is learned and can be unlearned; it can also be managed proactively. Provide opportunities to learn about others and foster empathy. Let’s get to work.
April 15, 2018: This week we marked Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. As we bear witness to a dramatic increase in acts of anti-Semitism and extremism in the U.S. and around the world, Jewish students — arm-in-arm with Holocaust survivors — are visiting the Nazi extermination camps. In an opening statement at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who carried out much of the Holocaust, Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner said, “With me stand … six million accusers.” These students will be the standard bearers for coming generations, sharing the harrowing experiences of the survivors and the murdered six million. May they stand strong.
March 25, 2018: In the wake of tragedies, we all “send our thoughts and prayers.” When Dr. King led the march from Selma to Montgomery, he was joined by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Upon returning, he was reportedly asked if he had time to pray when he was partaking in the march. His response: “I prayed with my feet.” Stoneman Douglas students have brought a nation to its feet, and this weekend we march forward. Thoughts and prayers aren’t statements of potential, but affirmations. If we use everything we have to step forward — we can be the answer to our own prayers.
March 18, 2018: A recent ADL audit revealed a nationwide increase of 57 percent in verified anti-Semitic incidents over the previous year. Additionally, about 60 percent of extremist murders in the United States were committed by white supremacists. In the wake of these sobering findings, the Anti-Defamation League held community events in Miami and West Palm Beach this week on extremism and anti-Semitism. Issues of both extreme importance and controversy will be highly prioritized moving forward. As we become galvanized to make significant and sustained change, it is crucial that we are informed with accurate, detailed information. Only then can we act with credibility.
March 11, 2018: Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory attended Minister Farrakhan’s Saviours’ Day Speech where, not surprisingly, he made overtly anti-Semitic remarks and singled out Mallory for praise. Failing to denounce it, voices around the country demanded better and were rewarded with a statement by the organization distancing itself from all forms of bigotry. While this is a good first step, it’s far from adequate. We cannot tolerate selective equivocation, nor can we further a movement for equality by promoting or ignoring discrimination. We shall all march; it will be a sad mistake if some of us will do so out of step.
March 4, 2018:Up until this week, the Neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, whose Florida chapter was once considered the largest in the country, had a YouTube channel. This group, which calls for gassing Jews and a race war, spread its message via this social media app – and violated YouTube’s own community guidelines. ADL and others advocated for the removal of the channel, and it has now been taken down. To combat hate and bigotry online, we all need to play a part. If you come across hateful, bigoted, extremist, or cyberbullying content on social media, report it through http://www.adl.org/adl-cyber-safety-action-guide.
February 25, 2018: Today I invite you to write yourself a note like I did: Dear Tracey – these names will populate on your news feed next year on this date: Alyssa Alhadeff. Scott Beigel. Martin Duque Anguiano. Nicholas Dworet. Aaron Feis. Jamie Guttenberg . Chris Hixon. Luke Hoyer. Cara Loughran. Gina Montalto. Joaquin Oliver. Alaina Petty. Meadow Pollack. Helena Ramsay. Alex Schachter. Carmen Schentrup. Peter Wang. There are thousands more of Florida’s children senselessly murdered with guns. If by this time next year, your activism, advocacy, and alliances have not yet galvanized a change – look into to your children’s eyes, and keep working.
February 11, 2018: Poland recently passed a law criminalizing certain speech related to the Holocaust. It carries fines and a maximum three-year jail sentence for Poles or foreigners who attribute responsibility to Poland for crimes committed by the Nazis. I find this extremely unsettling. There is frustration regarding the term “Polish Death Camps” — as opposed to using the term “Nazi”; however, this law also raises the possibility that Holocaust survivor testimony about actions by Poles could result in criminal charges. While many Poles did help and rescue Jews during the Holocaust, Poland should recognize the crimes committed by some of its people.
January 28, 2018: U.S. Border Patrol agents boarded a Greyhound bus in Fort Lauderdale, which was making a stop on its Orlando-Miami route. According to reports, agents instructed passengers to present a U.S. identification or stamped passport. The agency commented to the media that this was done “while performing an immigration inspection.” Last week, federal agents descended on 7-Elevens around the country, reportedly indicating that it was a warning to companies that may employ undocumented individuals. We must act now to ensure that, while lady justice is blindfolded for equality, her heart beats in tune with this nation of immigrants.
January 21, 2018: Recently, a fight targeting a student at Boca Raton high school invoked sentiments of discrimination. While details of the episode have since been clarified by law enforcement as not bias-motivated, it was quite concerning that many observers stood by, taking videos of the attack, which were posted on social media. Regardless of the particulars of this case, parents and educators must be proactive and inculcate in students that they can be proactive, and stop hate before it starts. They don’t need to wait for an escalation to violence to be an ally. Let others know they are not alone.
January 14, 2018: A pipeline of policies and culture that siphons many minority students from schools to prisons persists in our nation. Data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights shows that racial-minority and LGBTQ students are suspended and expelled at disparately higher rates than their white peers, even though studies have shown no differences in behavior. As we mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we must acknowledge that the dream and the work is not done. And if you become frustrated by society’s ills, including education inequality – remember that the work is yours to complete as well.
January 7, 2018:American equality must fulfill its destiny, and become fully self-evident and truly robust. On New Year’s Day morning, I proposed to my girlfriend (she said yes!). While we are excited to plan our legal marriage, there is currently legislation in Tallahassee that proposes to immunize private businesses from local laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, or public accommodations. Here in Florida, LGBTQ people can get legally married on a weekend and be fired or evicted on Monday because of who we love. When civil rights are legally denied for some, our equality is anything but complete.
December 31, 2017: The re-emergence of white supremacy this year was pivotal. Charlottesville was a flashpoint — the largest white supremacist gathering in over a decade. The participants claimed to preserve “southern heritage,” yet were soon shouting Nazi-era slogans and “Jews will not replace us.” And they did not stop with anti-Semitism. To effectively move the needle, we cannot compartmentalize our compassion. If there is a lesson from 2017, it must be that hatred and bigotry against any of us must be an affront to all of us. If there is a lesson for 2018 — we can only rise if we do so together.
December 24, 2017: It is our hope for 2018 that Florida will ensure that all people are protected from hate crimes. As our state law currently stands, it doesn’t protect anyone specifically targeted for a crime because of their gender or gender identity. Someone who is targeted due to a disability would need to be both mentally disabled and physically incapacitated to be covered. In light of the spike in hate crimes we are seeing nationally, now is the time for the Florida’s Legislature to move SB588/HB211 forward. Our society will be stronger when our values are reinforced in law.
December 17, 2017: Regardless of whether you support or oppose the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, one thing is clear – the line between speaking against Israel’s policies and promulgating anti-Semitism has blurred. Jewish community sites have been attacked in Holland and Sweden. Across the Middle East and Muslim countries, anti-Semitic editorial cartoons have been published, and hate-filled speeches have been made by leaders like Turkey’s President Erdogan. While some protests promoted a legitimate narrative, others included extreme anti-Israel messages. While people have every right to criticize policies they don’t agree with, appeals to bigotry and incitement must be denounced.
December 10, 2017: Every December, public school students, parents, teachers and administrators face the difficult task of acknowledging various religious and secular holiday traditions. There is a line between teaching about religious holidays (which is permitted), and celebrating religious holidays or engaging students in activities that are akin to religious observance (which is not permitted). By observing the First Amendment, students’ appreciation of different traditions can be enriched. A message of inclusivity can bring students together in focusing on similarities and distinctions (not differences) – and the benefits of that message can carry far beyond December.
December 3, 2017: The Dream Act/DACA legislation would allow young people who were brought to the U.S. as children to earn lawful permanent residence status and eventually become American citizens, provided they meet certain criteria such as graduation from high school and passing a criminal background check. This moment will shape not only our immigration system, but also what it means to be an American. Call your legislators today and ask them for liberty and justice for all.
November 26, 2017: Last week, I led the Florida delegation to the Anti-Defamation League’s Never Is Now Summit. A main area of focus was online bigotry. The web amplifies the power of individuals who are able to reach the masses with a simple status update or click of a “share” link. So, if technology reflects the values of those who use it, each of us must renew our commitment to compassion by speaking up for others when we see or hear slander, whether in our Twitter feeds or at our dinner tables. To learn how to report online hate, go to: https://www.adl.org/adl-cyber-safety-action-guide.
November 12, 2017: One statistic was glaring in ADL’s audit of anti-Semitic incidents: in Florida, there was a 200 percent increase in reported incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism between the first three quarters of 2017 and the same period last year. Some targeted individuals’ homes or businesses, others targeted institutions. In many cases of bias-motivated vandalism, the intent is to send a message of intimidation to an entire community. Our response: we will be ever-vigilant in standing up to anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. Florida can and must be No Place For Hate — we urge you to report anti-Semitic incidents at florida.adl.org.
November, 5, 2017: Countering violence and other crimes motivated by hate is not a Democratic or Republican value, but an American value. Led by the Anti-Defamation League, the Florida Hate Crime Coalition (FHCC), composed of 45 organizations, is advocating for a stronger and comprehensive state hate crime law. Florida’s current law has critical gaps: it does not cover gender, gender identity, physical disabilities or mixed-motive hate crimes. Senator Rader and Representatives Geller and Jacquet have filed legislation – SB 588/HB211 – which would fix these holes in the law. The Florida Legislature should support SB588/HB211 because all Floridians deserve protection from hate crimes.
October 29, 2017: Alt-right leader Richard Spencer spoke at the University of Florida, with counter-demonstrators in and outside the rented venue. That morning, a white supremacist-run website called for flashmobs at Jewish and minority locations. The targeted locations immediately spoke with law enforcement – because they’d been coordinating with them during the preceding weeks. Most incidents targeting religious or cultural institutions don’t afford us advance warning. It’s crucial in this day and age for all such institutions to reach out proactively and connect with police. The Anti-Defamation League stands ready to connect you – because security planning cannot wait for times of insecurity.
October 15, 2017: We are spearheading an initiative to bring together the entire state of Florida in an effort to promote unity and stand together against hate: No Place For Hate Day, on Oct 20th. We are asking schools, officials, community and religious institutions, and businesses to take part. Hold a program promoting diversity. Take a picture themed around diversity and post it on social media with the hashtag #noplaceforhate. Let’s use our voices together, not only in response to the incidents and rhetoric that have plagued our country, but also to stop hate before it starts.
October 8, 2017: October is Bullying Awareness Prevention Month. To parents, educators, and administrators: by the end of the 2017-18 school year, many of your students will either have been targets of bullies, bystanders, or engage in bullying behavior. Bullying has three components: repeated actions or threats, a power imbalance, and harmful intention. More and more bullying is based on the target’s intrinsic characteristics. Starting now, you have an opportunity to proactively intervene. Inculcate in your students: bullying happens because of an aggressor’s bias, not because of the target’s identity. And, being an ally requires courage, but can yield the most significant results.
October 1, 2017: Jews the world over just finished observing Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. We fasted, asked for forgiveness from others, from G-d, from ourselves, and prayed to be granted another year. There is a powerful chant that asks who will live and who will die; who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer. In this new year, let’s work to ensure refugees can find shores to rest; children will not be bullied; and Jews and others can practice their faith in a world without hate.
September 4, 2017: For months, the ADL led a campaign calling for the secretary of state to fill the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. This week, Secretary Tillerson reinstated the position (though other Special Envoy positions, critical to American values, remain empty). Hate and anti-Semitism is marching – in America, around the world, and online. An effective obstacle in the way of those who espouse anti-Semitism and extremism is simply to expose them. Then we can counter their defamation with our words and actions. The envoy position is vital to this global effort.
August 27, 2014: The ADL joined with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to form a pact, wherein mayors can commit to: speaking out against acts of hate; punishing bias-motivated violence; encouraging anti-bias education in schools and with law enforcement; encouraging activities focused on diversity; and ensuring civil rights and hate crime laws are enforced. 37 Florida mayors have signed on, including 13 from Broward County – which is phenomenal. I encourage all remaining municipalities and the county mayor to sign on at mayorscompact.org. Commit to the goal that your community shall be no place for hate.
August 13, 2017: It has been two weeks since the President tweeted about disallowing Transgender Americans from serving in the military (*posted on the anniversary of President Truman’s 1948 Executive Action to desegregate the military). Officials have weighed in that the tweet does not amount to policy. The fact that this has fallen out of the headlines is problematic. This is blatant discrimination, and many have attempted to justify it. Let’s be clear – this is a permutation of hate, no different than racism or anti-Semitism. The concerns of those who profess bigotry must not be our society’s – or our military’s – moral compass.
July 30, 2017: I had the privilege to travel to Poland on an ADL Mission. Poland has been coming to terms with its own past and responsibility in the Holocaust and decimation of 3.5 million Jews. I was impressed by many young non-Jewish Poles who feel compelled to learn Poland’s Jewish history, which they see as integral to their own Polish heritage. They use that passion to help revive this culture by restoring synagogues and cemeteries, and supporting Jewish institutions. May we all learn from their example by learning about the other, acknowledging and mending prior hatred, and embracing compassion.
July 16, 2017: Originally just a battle flag, the Confederate flag in its 20th and 21st century use has become a potent symbol of slavery and white supremacy. Too often today, we still see it displayed as a clear act of intimidation — just recently left on the lawn of Evelyn Foxx, President of the Alachua County NAACP chapter — or out of a misguided sense of patriotism, reportedly seen several times at the recent Melbourne Fourth of July Parade. The display of Confederate flags should be relegated for educational purposes only, in settings like museums. Short of that, it willfully invokes hatred.
July 2, 2017: In Chicago, three women were ejected from an LGBTQ Pride March because they carried rainbow flags emblazoned with a Star of David. The organizers said it “made people feel unsafe,” and stated the three were ejected “for expressing Zionist views that go directly against the march’s anti-racist core values.” In response to the ejection, a courageous Muslim woman with the Muslim crescent on her rainbow flag called it what this was in a Facebook post: an act of anti-Semitism. If you have anti-Israel sentiments and then ban Jews — ban all. Otherwise, the rainbow’s stripes of inclusivity will fade away.
June 25, 2017: As ADL Florida Chair, I was blessed to participate in three interfaith Iftars – celebratory dinners that break the daily fast during the month of Ramadan. The beauty, love, and serenity evident at these events were widespread. Just as I do as a Jewish person during Yom Kippur, the diverse Muslim community collectively seeks forgiveness from God and from all people. If we are to be “one nation, indivisible”, we must staunchly affirm that our Muslim brothers and sisters, praying for peace alongside us, are part of that indivisible nation.
June 18, 2017: Some will politicize anything connected to Israel – often to their detriment. Lebanon, Tunisia, and Algeria banned screenings of Wonder Woman because its lead actress, Gal Gadot, is Israeli. Yet the real story is not the anachronistic rejection of all things Israel by these 3 countries, but how Gadot’s nationality has made not one iota of difference for the other dozens of Arab and Muslim states, nor for the millions of others around the world who have rushed to theaters to embrace Wonder Woman’s fight for justice.
June 11, 2017: What will you text your family as we ease into summer? “Beach trip!” “So proud of our graduate!” “Get popcorn for the movie!” In the chaos of 2:06 a.m. on June 12th 2016, Eddie Justice texted: “Mommy, I love you. In club they shooting. Trapp in bathroom.” Eddie was one of the 49 murdered at Pulse — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” In honor of the 49, commit to shining light and love into the shadows.
June 4, 2017: In Manchester, 22 people were brutally slaughtered after a concert by Boca Raton native Ariana Grande. Bias-motivated attacks have occurred across our country as well. We must firmly recognize that innocent victims are innocent and a terror attack is terror, no matter the circumstances. We must not fall prey to hate and allow these extremists to paint our views of entire communities. We need to mourn and must move forward. By continuing to live our lives in pursuit of our democratic values and pluralism, we defeat the terrorists’ and extremists’ ultimate goal of changing our way of life.
May 20, 2017: In these last weeks of the school year, students should be celebrating their achievements. At some schools in Broward, Palm Beach, and Lee Counties, though, celebrations have been marred by vandalism and cyberhate incidents. These incidents have included racist language and Nazi imagery. It is telling that those who wish to strike fear, based on ignorance, have targeted institutions of learning. As students begin their summer recess, parents should discuss with them their thoughts about why these incidents occurred, what their feelings were when they learned of them, and brainstorm actions to take to make a difference in the community.
May 14, 2017: I was so proud to Co-Chair the ADL’s 2017 National Summit, with 30 Florida leaders joining me. This year’s theme, ‘Action To Impact’, is one that must resonate for all. With anti-Semitic incidents spiking, and purveyors of bigotry coming out of the shadows, no one can afford to sit on the sidelines. Be informed by journalists, and listen intently to analysts from various perspectives. Write a letter to the editor. Register and get others to vote. Let your legislators hear from you regularly. Florida: we’re not fans in the bleachers; we’re suited up and being called in to play.
May 7, 2017: Supporters around the world celebrated as Israel marked its 69th year. Why did I choose to do so? Israel’s legitimacy to exist is questioned on the world stage; yet simultaneously its Agency for International Development Cooperation (Mashav) trains professionals from more than 100 developing countries each year in order to share its expertise and technological advancements in water, food, and security. I celebrate Israel as part of the Jewish people, and also as a proud supporter of the advancement of humanity. Israel’s success is the world’s success — and that is a reason for us all to celebrate.
April 30, 2017: This year’s ADL audit of anti-Semitic incidents indicates serious problems in Florida and nationwide. In 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, there was a sharp rise in incidents targeting Jews — especially in the categories of harassment and school incidents. The Torah instructs Jews to be “a light to the nation.” For everyone reading this: shine a light on anti-Semitism and all bigotry — no matter the source. One light will illuminate; many lights together will force hate back to the shadows. Speak up when you hear any stereotype — it can only remain a stereotype if it goes unchallenged.
April 16, 2017: It’s been 70 years since No. 42 Jackie Robinson ran out on Ebbet’s Field, the first professional African-American baseball player. The Civil Rights Act was 17 years away. Exposing our children to “the other” -– any other -– can cumulatively affect their lives. When Jackie passed, ADL’s then-national director noted that he worked “shoulder to shoulder with ADL to abolish discrimination, wipe out prejudice.” For the sake of generations to come, we must put aside our own prejudices and set the standards like No. 42 did –- with power and dignity. If so — imagine where we could be 70 years from now.
April 9, 2017: Starting Monday evening, Jewish families will gather for Passover and its traditions. One tradition is to tell the story of four children — one wise, one wicked, one simple, and one who does not know how to ask. We possess all of these qualities. In this age of news, analysis, and “fake news” though, many of us don’t know how — or what — to ask. Our ability to make informed decisions has been incapacitated. Move beyond opinions you already agree with. Allow yourself to differentiate between opinion and fact. Only then can you confidently stand up for what you believe.
April 2, 2017: Enacted in 1989, Florida’s hate crimes law has longstanding gaps. A hate crime cannot be charged if the victim is targeted because of physical disability such as blindness, gender or gender identity. Sen. Rader and Rep. Pritchett have filed legislation — SB1512/HB1413 — that would fix these issues. In 2015, Florida saw a 39.7 percent increase in hate crimes, and post-election there has been a spike in hate crimes nationally. Now is the time for Florida to stand up to hate and protect all from bias-motivated violence by enacting this long overdue legislation.
March 26, 2017: Tracey Grossman, chairperson-elect, Florida Anti-Defamation League Jewish institutions here in South and across the country have been targeted with bomb threats, among many other bias-incidents. Left out of many responses is guidance on talking with and children, who wonder what motivates people who perpetrate these crimes. Ask questions: do they know who to say something to, do they follow the instruction of ‘if you see something, say something’? Do they think hate is learned? Can it be untaught? How can they demonstrate compassion to those targeted? Now is the time to empower children to develop creative, constructive responses to be allies to each other.
March 13, 2017: The current waves of threats against Jewish institutions must end. Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch, two Co-Chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force Against Anti-Semitism, sent an important letter to President Trump highlighting many of action items ADL has asked of the administration. Senators Rubio and Nelson co-authored a bi-partisan letter to the president calling for robust action to prevent hate violence and prosecute the 140-plus recent threats. We call on Attorney General Sessions to launch a federal-agency wide investigation, work to ensure that law enforcement enforce hate crime laws, and ask each U.S. Attorney to engage with their communities.
Looking ahead: In 1989, the Anti-Defamation League successfully advocated for a hate crimes law in Florida. Although the law is better than most, it has serious gaps. State Senator Rader and Representative Pritchett have filed SB 1512 and HB 1413, which would close these gaps by expanding the law’s definition of disability, add the categories of gender and gender identity, and cover mix-motive hate crimes. In light of the spike in hate crimes and bias incidents that have occurred in Florida and the nation, it is critical that the Florida legislature move this legislation forward.
February 19, 2017: On a recent mission to Rome and visiting with Pope Francis, ADL Honored the ‘Congregation of Sisters of our Lady of Sion’ for its commitment to justice, and its deep valuing of interfaith affairs. Originally founded in 1847 to offer guidance for Jewish converts to Catholicism, the group’s vision underwent a radical change as Sisters chose to harbor Jews who were fleeing the Nazis during the Holocaust. They have since worked fervently on interfaith relations. Thousands risked their lives to save Jews – it could have been more. Today, many conflate seeking refuge from persecution with illegal immigration. We cannot afford to be confused.
February 12, 2017: It is of grave concern that many are giving up on finding truth, fact and science due to false understanding that there is no fact, or that it is too difficult to uncover. Society has been gravitating towards media and analysis that aligns with one’s pre-set conceptions. Complex issues will only become more prolific, as will their ramifications. We must educate ourselves with nuance, gather facts, and form consensus. This is a cherished freedom. This is smart. The issues we face impact real people and are worthy of our greatest efforts.
February 5, 2017: In 1790, George Washington visited Rhode Island and met with the Jewish community. He later sent them a letter, echoing their words, “…the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens…”. The modern good citizen must fiercely remember and recognize that no citizen – no person – should suffer bigotry or persecution. Let us be vigilant, aware, and awake to ensure we do not create categories into which we lump people. Only together can ‘we the people’ achieve a more perfect union.
January 29, 2017: Fifteen years ago, an acclaimed Wall Street Journal journalist was abducted by terrorists in Pakistan. A horrific video was later released of his beheading. Some of his final words: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.” We can only imagine the in-depth reporting that we are deprived of from the likes of Daniel Pearl, Miami’s Steven Sotloff, and so many journalists who risk their lives covering areas where their own identities make them targets of hate. When we take in “fake news” and consider it journalism, we not only devalue ourselves, but debase their memories.
January 22, 2017: Just a few days ago, President Trump took the oath of office to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” This has been an unusual, contentious, and divisive election. Regardless of party affiliation, we have seen an uptick in extremists and hatemongers usurping the political climate to separate communities and people from one another. We too must abide by an oath to be active citizens, and not be bystanders — especially when hate rears its ugly head against others. Speak out as an ally, stand up, and most importantly prevent hate from having the last word.
January 15, 2017: No victim of hate should be injured a second time by having to stand alone. The Jewish community was hit hard this week. Dozens of Jewish institutions received bomb threats – at least eight in Florida. After the threats, we received a tweet – ‘Equality Florida stands with you’. In Israel terror this week as well, when an Israeli-Arab truck driver ran over a group of soldiers; four were murdered, twelve injured. Afterwards, the Berlin Brandenburg Gate was lit in the Israeli flag. Let the reverberating effects of standing up for one another sound louder than the hate which seeks to divide.
January 8, 2017: The U.S. failure to veto the biased, unconstructive UN resolution on Israel is outrageous; Secretary Kerry’s subsequent remarks contradicted the administration’s own stated philosophy that solving the conflict can only be achieved by the parties themselves. What appears as U.S. justification for Palestinian violence, may embolden further those ripe to commit acts of terror against Israelis. Years ago, the P.A. turned down peace agreements that would have given them a state; even a 10-month freeze in Israeli settlement building in 2009 did not result in an agreement. It is clear that not only are we no closer to peace from an outgoing administration’s recent actions, but we may have moved further away.
January 1, 2017: This coming year, I’d like to see fewer stories about communities having to come together in response to prejudice, bigotry, hate incidents and terror. Instead, I’d like to see more stories about people standing up for one another proactively; about bringing back empathy and understanding; about the digital superhighway being used for honest informing more than a tool for the prolific spreading of hate; about the return of truthful, balanced news; about pride in our country standing together proclaiming: “There is no them, only us.” In 2017, I hope we put our feet back on solid, smart, humble, thoughtful ground.
December 25, 2016: ‘Looking back at 2016’ The most horrific happening this year in Florida was the massacre at the Puse nightclub in Orlando where 49 people were murdered and dozens injured. In the aftermath of the attack, from Orlando to New York to California, vigils were held in the spirit of support and unity. The outpouring of support for the victims and their families is part of the story — it’s a story about hateful ideology manifesting in violent terror. But in the aftermath, it’s also a story about not giving up, and of standing up as allies to bigotry whenever and wherever it appears.
December 18, 2016: One idea for a New Year’s resolution — become an ally. Incidents of hate and bigotry in Florida are on the rise. Even if they target one individual, the intent is to amplify fear into whole communities. Racist fliers at university campuses, vandalism of religious institutions, conflict at schools due to bias. Become educated on controversial issues with an ear towards nuance. Connect with members of different faiths and ethnicities. Advocate to your elected officials. Support organizations that combat bigotry with time, effort, and donations. Be an ally in 2017 — no one should ever have to stand up alone against hate.
December 11, 2016: Sometimes, anti-Semitic expression and anti-Israel sentiment is crossing from protected free expression to unlawful, discriminatory conduct. To effectively address anti-Jewish incidents that may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws, it is crucial to understand current manifestations of anti-Semitism. The Senate recently passed the ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act’, which provides important guidance for the Departments of Education and Justice for federal anti-discrimination investigations involving anti-Semitism, including on college campuses. Florida’s own Representatives Ted Deutch and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, among others, introduced the companion legislation in the House. We hope this important legislation is passed before the upcoming Congressional recess.
December 4, 2016: Harvey Milk was an unrelenting American gay rights advocate, and he became the first openly-gay elected official in the U.S. On November 27, 1978 he and the Mayor of San Francisco were brutally murdered. Milk famously remarked in a speech, “…without hope, not only gays, but Blacks, Asians, the Disabled, Seniors…the us’s – without hope, the us’s give up. I know that you cannot live on hope alone. But without it, life is not worth living. And you…have got to give them hope.” To all the us’s: after recent surges in anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia – have hope. Because you aren’t alone. You are us.
November 27, 2016: We have seen a sharp uptick in anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist, and other incidents of bigotry over the past two weeks — highlighting the worst aspects of our nature. On Thanksgiving, many who had disassociated themselves from friends and family over political differences, were brought together to face one another across the dining room table. It is time to reconnect with open eyes, open minds and open hearts — and with renewed determination to appeal to the best aspects of our nature. And it is time to decide that above all, respect for human dignity and equal, fair treatment is primary.
Looking ahead: President Abraham Lincoln traveled to the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, shortly after this bloody Civil War battle occurred in 1893. Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’ was a 19th century tweet — at just under two minutes in length. He said, “(The world)…can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” There has been an uptick in anti-Semitic and bigoted incidents since the election; although it has been 153 years since this battle — we are still addressing Gettysburg.
November 20, 2016: Last week marked the anniversary of 1938’s Kristallnacht/the “Night of Broken Glass.” Nazi officials quietly coordinated riots, the arson of hundreds of synagogues, the arrest and internment at concentration camps of approximately 30,000 Jews, and untold violence and rape. They did this on the basis of propaganda and discriminatory, anti-Semitic laws separating Jews and Germans. Jews became legally identified as untermenschen, or sub-human. Once Jews were seen as separate, it was easier for them to be singled out for legal discrimination — and then extermination. We must never again allow bigoted ideas to find expression in law. We know the results.
November 6, 2016: This Tuesday will be the first Presidential election since the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The VRA was one of the most significant and effective pieces of civil rights legislation ever passed. It eliminated discriminatory barriers to full civic participation for millions of Americans, and sparked advances for equal political participation. Following the ruling, several states passed restrictive voting laws, which are impacting the rights of thousands of U.S. citizens to vote. Congress must advance the VRA to ensure that, for every future election, all of our voices are heard and our votes are counted.
October 30, 2016: A new report shows that from last August through this July, 1.7 million Twitter users posted tweets containing commonly used anti-Semitic language/imagery, which received about 10 billion potential impressions. This is approximately the number of times a $20 million Super Bowl ad is seen. This bigotry juggernaut normalizes anti-Semitic commentary on a global scale. At least 800 journalists were targeted by these tweets — 83 percent of them were directed at only 10 Jewish journalists. Silicon Valley, we have a problem on this information superhighway. At a minimum, let’s do our part to flag hate speech online, and to call out directly individuals who use it.
October 23, 2016: We just marked 18 years since, because he was gay, Matthew Shepard, was tortured and left for dead near his hometown in Wyoming. He died six days later. The memory of Matthew is a blessing, with his legacy bringing expanded federal hate crimes protections, and his name acting as the title of our country’s expanded hate crimes law, the ‘Matthew Shepard Act’. The number ‘18’ in Judaism denotes ‘chai’ meaning ‘life’. At this 18 year mark, let’s put some ‘life’ back into expanding protections and finally vote to include gender and gender identity for hate crimes protection in Florida.
October 16, 2016: Yom Kippur is a time for serious reflection. Some words of hope for the coming year: May it be a year filled with strength, renewed hope, patience, repairs and beginnings. May we maintain and regain a thirst for knowledge and truth and seek such. May we see the value in each and every person including in ourselves. May we make space for varied viewpoints. May we love better. May we give and be open to receiving more. May we show understanding. May we live in integrity with ourselves. And may we open the door wide to possibility in everything.
October 9, 2016: Two incidents of hate were on public display in Florida – one in Parkland and another in Jacksonville. In Parkland, a Jewish house of worship was vandalized with anti-Semitic hate. In Jacksonville, hateful fliers were distributed at Jewish institutions and private homes. In both incidents the community came together in condemnation. Residents, clergy and town officials worked together to clean up Parkland’s Chabad. The OneJax Institute at UNF issued a statement denouncing anti-Semitism that included signatures from Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist leaders. To have success against the tide of hate, it is crucial we do as was done here – stand united to reject racism.
October 2, 2016: It is heartbreaking that we have lost past Israeli President Shimon Peres – a founder of the Jewish State, who was known around the world for his flourishing optimism for peace in the Middle East. As the Jewish people turn introspective in advance of the High Holidays, we also lament on the still recent loss of Holocaust Survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel. Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown, and it is customary to wish people a ‘sweet’ new year. A year without anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and bigotry is the ‘sweetest’ way to carry forward the incredible legacies of Shimon Peres and Elie Wiesel.
September 25, 2016: If you see something, say something,” is a longtime initiative of American law enforcement. Among the rash of attacks in NY and NJ allegedly carried out by an Islamic extremist ideologue this week, community members noticed something resembling a bomb in the trash, contacted authorities, and this led to an arrest. In addition to these attacks in America, we saw seven stabbing attacks against Israelis in four days, and an attack on the Israeli embassy in Turkey. Stopping terror here and abroad will only be successful if people speak up. When you see something not right, it is imperative you say something.
September 18, 2016: The Jewish community has felt vexed and confounded over the years that the United Nations has been generally ‘united’ only in one area – sharp anti-Israel criticism, and at times, anti-Semitism. With strong leadership from the United States, the U.N. has taken a beginning step to address anti-Semitism as part of its human rights agenda. Last week, it held its second all-day conference on anti-Semitism. ADL was there to provide expertise on stemming anti-Semitism around the world. While serious challenges remain with the U.N.’s actions and treatment of Israel, we hope this event will resonate with U.N. member states and lead to positive change.
September 11, 2016: Fifteen years has passed since 2,977 people were murdered before our eyes. Three years after the 9/11 attack, ADL created its National Counter-Terrorism Center. It’s brought law enforcement officials to Israel to learn from experts, their experiences and lessons learned. Last month, Orlando Police Chief John Mina attended NCTS. While the invitation was extended a month before the horrific attack at Pulse, it provided him with a unique lens in dealing with terrorist incidents. As we continue to encounter international terror and homegrown extremism in Florida and nationwide, our commitment to enhance our security remains a top priority.
September 4, 2016: In Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic speech 53 years ago, he declared that we will not “be satisfied so long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.” Since then we have seen countless minorities elected to office and the first African-American President. Yet, this will be the first presidential election in 50-plus years without a functioning Voting Rights Act. ID laws will disenfranchise minority, student, and elderly voters. Early voting restrictions and arduous requirements for voter registration put the right to vote in peril.
August 28, 2016: Twitter announced that since mid-2015, they have closed more than 360,000 accounts for promoting terror. Terror groups around the world have exploited social media, and this is a critical step in halting their reach. For both international terrorists and domestic extremists, social media remains a crucial element of radicalization. Online social interactions facilitate the spread of extremist messages, making them available to anyone, anywhere. The internet is a powerful tool for social engagement and transformation, and with that power comes enormous challenges. There is much still to do, but – thank you Twitter for stepping up to the challenge.
August 22, 2016:After a Georgia trial infused with anti-Semitism resulted in the conviction of a young attorney named Leo Frank for the rape and murder of a teenager, the governor reduced his sentence to life in prison. Then, exactly 101 years ago, a mob broke into Frank’s jail near Atlanta and lynched him. It was in this pivotal moment that the American Jewish community decided to boldly stand against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all forms, and created the Anti-Defamation League. While America has come far, societal and institutional prejudice still thrives. In Leo Frank’s memory, our bold, imperative work must continue.
August 14, 2016: Students are returning to school very soon. Many will be victims of bullying and cyberbullying this year; recent studies have shown that 20% of young people have already been targets of cyberbullying. Now is a great opportunity to be aware and on top of this issue before it starts. What bullied children may reveal in polls, they may be reluctant to tell a parent or teacher in person. It is primary to teach your children and students the importance of being an ally. It is also primary to be aware of your children’s and student’s online activity, to teach and reinforce responsible use of technology, and to make sure children know you are there to listen if anything goes awry.
August 6, 2016: Last week: Despite targeted boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) efforts against Israel, Singers Joss Stone and Carlos Santana played concerts there. Stone said, “To condemn those you have never met in the hope for peace is quite simply counterproductive.” Santana said, “I’m doing something constructive and productive with my light and my energy.” Amare Stoudemire – formerly with the Sun, Knicks, and Miami Heat, will be playing with the Israeli basketball team HaPoel Jerusalem. We bridge divides and establish a future for all people by engaging, investing, and living. BDS efforts are designed from hate and by default will ultimately fail.
Looking ahead: The 2016 Olympic Games are about to begin. Moshe Weinberg, Yossef Romano, Ze’ev Friedman, David Berger, Yakov Springer, Eliezer Halfin, Yossef Gutfreund, Kehat Shorr, Mark Slavin, Andre Spitzer and Amitzur Shapira; “Our worst fears have been realized tonight…they’re all gone.” These names and this statement are the chilling words spoken on live television in 1972 after eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were held hostage, tortured, brutalized, and murdered by Palestinian terrorists. This week, after 44 years, the International Olympic Committee finally held a memorial. Later this fall, a permanent memorial to the athletes will be unveiled in Munich. May the memory of these members of this international fellowship of sports be forever preserved.
July 31, 2016: Outside of the DNC site, a masked individual burned an Israeli flag. A surrounding group chanted “Intifada Intifada”. The two Intifada’s (aka. armed terrorist uprisings against Israelis), cost thousands of lives. The first Intifada happened 30 years ago. Ever since, as the two sides have advanced toward peace, Intifada and terror have stunted progress. This act outside the DNC took place as the democratic process was unfolding. By wearing a mask, the individual who burned the flag umasked for the world a reminder that encouraging terror and hate has never brought peace, and it never will.
July 24, 2016: We have seen deadly attacks against those tasked with protecting us, and in Florida, the firebombing of a Daytona Beach Police vehicle. There are reasons to be alarmed by the deadly shootings of unarmed black men in Louisiana, Minnesota, and elsewhere by police. And yet, we absolutely cannot tolerate the targeting of police with violence. Solutions to the underlying issues between law enforcement and the communities they serve can only be found through peaceful and constructive means. At a time of increased polarization, we need to stand together and reject violence from anywhere it originates.
July 17, 2016: The Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections office bowed to pressure from residents who refused to vote in a polling station located at a mosque. Some blame the Supervisor’s office for acquiescing to anti-Muslim fears, some blame those who complained, some blame polling stations being located in houses of worship in the first place. Though all raise concerns, the most serious issue is the knee-jerk reaction of many in our community to avoid the mosque at all costs. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world and start building bridges of interfaith understanding in our own backyard.
July 3, 2016: According to various sources, nearly 200 terror attacks occurred worldwide just this month – from Orlando to Istanbul. Too often, the names of Jews and Israelis who fall victim to terror are forgotten. This week, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, was stabbed to death in her sleep by a Palestinian terrorist. As I write, news has broken of another stabbing in the Israeli city of Netanya. In a recent speech, Palestinian Authority President Abbas invoked a medieval anti-Semitic canard, falsely stating that Rabbis urged that Palestinian water be poisoned. We cannot combat terror without combating the hateful, violent propaganda that nurtures it.
May 26, 2016: “T’was blind but now I see.” The President sung these lyrics one year ago in Charleston. These lyrics have reminded us over generations to actively choose to see the reality of injustice before us. Two weeks ago: hatred murdered 49 people in an Orlando gay bar. One year ago: hatred murdered nine people in an African-American church. 52 years ago: hatred murdered 3 civil rights workers in Mississippi. Injustice isn’t new, yet these “Amazing Grace” lyrics seem novel. Headlines and vision fade. For the 49 and so many others, we must consciously choose to keep our eyes wide open.
May 19, 2016: Last year, we honored Lady Gaga with our ‘Making A Difference Award’. In her acceptance, she said, “We want to do everything we can to make them feel strong and happy and know that they deserve a kinder and braver life.” At a solidarity rally for those murdered in Orlando, Lady Gaga read the names of the murdered with great emotion. There is no doubt those 50 murdered persons deserved ‘a kinder and braver life’. And so does every member of the LGBT community – in the eyes of the law and the arms of society. Being kind shouldn’t require much bravery. And we will all be stronger for it.
May 13, 2016: Hate has taken on many symbols over time – the swastika, a burning cross. This year, bigotry has entered into the realm of punctuation. The latest gimmick used by anti-Semites to single out Jews on social media is a triple parentheses or stylized (((insert Jewish name))) symbol. It is an online way to tag or accentuate someone perceived to be Jewish – singling them out for harassment. Journalists have been a particular target in recent weeks from The Atlantic, The New York Times, GQ, The New York Post and The Daily Wire. We’re working with tech industry partners to investigate further and put an end to the parentheses.
May 29, 2016: Children around Florida are gearing up for summer camp: the perfect chance to interact with kids apart from their usual school or neighborhood circles. They find themselves amongst kids of different religions, abilities/disabilities, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, nationalities, and even languages. Staff should seize on this ideal opportunity to instill an appreciation for differences, making campers more culturally competent. Like school, camp provides an environment where bias and bullying can be addressed proactively. If they learn to challenge myths and stereotypes over the summer, they can apply them as assets in their schools – and for life.
May 22, 2016: “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” With these words, the Supreme Court ruled on Brown vs. The Board of Education, overturning decades of sanctioned discrimination. In Florida, as in other states, some leaders worked to minimize the verdict; others sought a way forward. Today, wide gaps remain in full access to quality education and fair treatment. Why are schools with high minority populations more likely to have teachers who don’t meet all state certifications? Do disciplinary policies have disparate impacts on students of one background? Sixty-two years ago, our judiciary allowed us to explore these questions. Our answers are overdue.
May 15, 2016: Much attention has focused recently on not permitting Transgender individuals to access restrooms of their gender identity. Some have said the impetus for these measures is to ensure that pedophiles of an opposite sex will not be able to enter bathrooms with children. Let’s be clear: the Nazi law against overcrowding in schools and universities wasn’t about overcrowding. U.S. laws requiring segregation in use of public transportation were not about buses. This is not about bathrooms, nor about dangers from potential pedophiles (who btw can currently enter bathrooms with children). This is discrimination based on unfounded fear and misinformation. Let’s use our laws more wisely and not in ways which promote bigotry.
May 8, 2016: It was once again shameful to hear from the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN. This time he said, “…all colonizers, all occupiers, including those who suppressed the Warsaw [Ghetto] uprising, labeled those who resisted them as terrorists.” This horrible analogy being made is liking Palestinians murdering Israeli civilians with guns and knives and bombs to Jews who stood against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. The comments are patently false, demean the memory of the victims of Nazi atrocities, and are dishonorable from a leader. The Ambassador is carefully guiding a watchful population towards hate and anti-Semitism.
May 2, 2016: The U.S. House Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, including South Florida Congressional Representatives Deutch and Ros-Lehtinen, two Co-Chairs, asked the Department of Education to clarify its efforts to protect students from anti-Semitic incidents and intimidation by including “anti-Semitism masked as anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment”. Just last year, ADL found a 38% increase in anti-Israel programs on campuses. The movement disguising anti-Semitism as ‘anti-Israel politics’ has been exposed; there are too many real injustices requiring attention to spend time on fake ones. Thank you to all Taskforce Members for working to see that American centers of academia are not forums for hate.
April 24, 2016: This week, many Jews will gather together to carry out the tradition of Passover seders. This is not just a meal – it incorporates telling the story of liberation from slavery, and traditions remind us of the horrors of that life. It also includes an important call to action – ‘In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt’. We did not personally experience slavery in Egypt, but that slavery has shaped our collective conscience. Why must we speak out against injustice today? The next generation, our children and our grandchildren, must also see themselves as if they left Egypt.
April 10, 2016: April is Genocide Awareness Month. Genocides of our time did not materialize from thin air. Hate was permitted to fester. Casual stereotyping wasn’t questioned. Bigotry justifying varied treatment was accepted from the living room to the public square to the law of the land. When we accept discrimination, we open the door for bias-motivated violence. Do you want to do better? Don’t forward that article, don’t tell or laugh at that joke, don’t repost that comment. Do check facts and check your own bias. Human beings are responsible for genocide and it’s up to us to stop hate before it takes over.
April 2, 2016: Several suspicious incidents targeting religious institutions occurred recently in South Florida – some may have been motivated by religious intolerance. Law enforcement agencies are to be commended for their prompt responses and investigations. It is crucial that religious institutions connect with law enforcement and regularly review security procedures. Security cannot be effectively addressed when it’s only addressed during or right after a security breach. Having plans in place, running training exercises, ensuring all staff know their roles, and reporting suspicious activity allow religious institutions to enhance their spiritual, welcoming nature knowing precautions are in place.
March 13, 2016: At the inaugural Miami In Concert Against Hate, ADL honored individuals who have been heroes in the struggle against bigotry. Among them: Onesimo Lopez-Ramos, an 18-year-old from Jupiter of Guatemalan descent, murdered by three individuals who were allegedly ‘hunting for Guatemalans’. Jupiter Police Chief Kitzerow and his staff have built working relationships with the communities they serve; it helped with the swift capture of the alleged perpetrators. He ensured that the alleged perpetrators’ charges included hate crime enhancements. We honor the memory of Onesimo, a hard-working young man, and the Chief, who made certain that hate finds no place in his jurisdiction.
March 6, 2016: Just around this time of year in 1945, Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. As we now enter into Women’s History Month and celebrate those who have cracked the glass ceiling and made great strides forward for women, let’s imagine the woman of valor that 15-year-old Anne would have become. Now, at age 86 what would her life have looked like? Would she be a mother, a grandmother, perhaps a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, or a Nobel Prize-winning author? What of the other 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust? When we remember those taken by hate, it reminds us of our duty to fill the voids they leave behind. Sunday,
February 28, 2016: Approximately 870,000 Jews were systematically murdered at the Treblinka extermination camp during the Holocaust. In August 1943, prisoners revolted – 67 escaped. Last week, the world lost Samuel Willenberg, the last known Treblinka survivor. He was the last who could personally bear witness to the murders of the 870,000. Without living testimony, educators have only visual testimonies and multimedia, still enabling students to connect to these important narratives in meaningful, personal ways. Samuel – and many others – recorded the Holocaust’s horrors, including a heart-wrenching piece for South Florida’s WLRN. May Samuel’s words continue to resonate and to teach us for generations to come.
February 21, 2016: An important Resolution is being considered in the Florida House of Representatives. HR 1001 condemns the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Criticism of Israeli policies can be reasonable and legitimate; BDS is neither. It singles out Israel for pariah status, is biased, disproportionate, rejecting Jewish right to self-determination and a two-state solution. Instead of furthering peaceful futures for Palestinians and Israelis, BDS supporters have acted to hamper efforts towards reconciliation. HR 1001 is an essential declaration that Florida rejects the destructive nature of the BDS campaign, and will work to enhance work for peace. Let’s invest in peace.
February 14, 2016: Black History Month was originally celebrated as a week in February highlighting the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. These two men were courageous enough to challenge injustice and hate. They were hopeful enough to dare to dream of a better America in which people of all colors, creeds, and religions were treated equally. They worked so America’s collective conscience could realize its potential of civil rights for all. Let’s be courageous enough to be both hopeful and insistent that future generations live without hate. Let’s make sure to instill in our children today the lessons of equality.
February 7, 2016: Fourteen years ago, reporter Daniel Pearl was murdered by Al-Qaeda. At ADL’s inaugural Miami In Concert Against Hate in March, the late Steven Sotloff – the acclaimed journalist murdered by ISIS – will be honored. Sometimes we remember those who have passed on the anniversary of their death; sometimes on their birthdays. Steven, Daniel, and so many others journalists dedicate their reporting to building bridges by finding humanity behind the headlines. I prefer to remember them by the date December 15, 1791; on that day, the Constitution’s first amendment enshrined a free press. Let’s never cease to benefit from the exercise of that freedom.
January 31, 2016: The world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 71 years after Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz. If we were to tell those Survivors upon their liberation that anti-Semitism would still be thriving 71 years later – what would they say? This week saw four Florida Jewish schools targeted with bomb threats. The leader of Iran released a Holocaust denial video. The U.N. Secretary General issued comments justifying Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians. Pro-Israel LGBTQ voices at the National LGBTQ Conference were silenced by anti-Israel instigators. Anti-Semitism did not end 71 years ago. We must categorically refuse to tolerate anti-Semitism. ‘Never Again’ is a legacy, not a slogan.
January 10, 2016: This week, many of our children returned to school. Due to bullying/cyberbullying, some students have – and will continue – to miss school. The Florida Department of Education sent a letter to school districts reminding them to prohibit discrimination and ensure that harassment and bullying will not be tolerated. Proactively, our schools must foster cultures that are inclusive and equitable. When an incident of discriminatory bullying does occur, the school should follow their policies and appropriately take action. They should also make clear – that school is no place for hate. Students should feel safe and be able to focus on learning in school.
January 3, 2016: In 2016, I hope to see firm, public stands against bigotry and anti-Semitism. Terrorist groups continue to heavily rely on anti-Semitism for propaganda. Jews were blamed for the January and November ISIS attacks in France. The hashtags #stabajew and #theknivesintifada went viral when Palestinians began violently attacking Israelis. Yet in the same year, the French Prime Minister took a firm stand in a landmark speech, “a reawakening of anti-Semitism is the symptom of a crisis in democracy.” More of us need to stand firm against hate and anti-Semitism in 2016. Sunday,
December 27, 2015: 2015 Big Story – civil rights gains and losses: We celebrated same-sex couples’ fundamental right to marriage, marked the 50th anniversary of Selma and the VRA, and applauded 45 states around the country having hate crime laws. Yet, a gay man in Florida can still be fired from his job without protections, Florida does not include gender or gender identity in its hate crime legislation, and voting rights are being threatened. A great Jewish sage said, “It is not your obligation to complete the task, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it entirely.” Let’s keep working in 2016.
Sunday, December 20, 2015: Attacks against the Muslim community have filled our headlines in the aftermath of terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Throughout Florida and around the country, Mosques and Muslim schools have been vandalized. When a religious institution is the target of a hate crime, the effects reverberate and instill fear in an entire faith community. What instills even more dread in me? Silence. As loudly as we must denounce the horrific attacks and the hateful ideologies that influence terror attacks generally, we must also speak out – with wisdom and compassion – against xenophobia and appeals to fear behind local acts of hate.
December 13, 2015: A 15-year-old was indicted for the North Miami Beach murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin from 16 months ago. Whether investigators find anti-Semitism to be a motive in this case, the facts are sobering and require smart action. No one should fear for his security when worshipping – when taking a walk in his daughter’s neighborhood. The boy who was indicted was 14-years-old when he committed this murder. This boy was in possession of a gun. In the aftermath of the murder, ADL was there in North Miami Beach to provide security trainings and to bring together law enforcement and members of the community. We applaud the cooperation and perseverance of everyone involved in the case.
December 6, 2015: When someone passes away, it is a Jewish custom to say ‘may their memory be a blessing’. This week, ADL lost Arthur Teitelbaum, Southern Area and Miami Director from the 1960s to early 2000s — a man who was a blessing all his life. In a post-9/11 interview, he remarked “Now we have an extraordinary situation created by events here and in the Middle East…I can’t think of a better time to talk than right now.” In a flood of hate, he built bridges. I can think of no better tribute than to accept the blessing of Art’s work –- to continue to cross bridges and fight hate however it manifests.
November 29, 2015: As we gather with our families and friends for Thanksgiving, we talk about that for which we are grateful. Our world seems upside down in many ways lately, as terror, fear and hate continue to surface. A Palm Beach County high school student who just returned from ADL’s National Youth Leadership said, “Actions prove who someone is, words just prove who they want to be.”” I am thankful for those who speak out and stand up for what is right – for justice – in these trying times. Stand up against hate worldwide – speak out at your table when someone shows fear and ignorance – you’ll have so much more to be thankful for next Thanksgiving.
November 22, 2015: Horrendous violent terrorism took lives and liberty in Paris. Terrorists are driven to commit violence because of what they think – their warped ideas about life, death, religion. One thing is certain – ideas – ideology – always comes before the bloodshed. Don’t check out when you hear a neighbor, a friend, a family member, a story in the news, a speaker, a vine, an online posting – where someone is espousing hate or bias or anti-Semitism or bigotry or discriminating – even when it appears indiscriminate. Bias-motivated crimes and terror come from hate – don’t succumb to those who devalue anyone’s life – never remain silent in the face of hate.
November 15, 2015: Another week of alarming headlines. My kids have questions – and if I don’t talk with them…who will? ADL’s Table Talk: Family Conversations About Current Events, which provides parents and family members with tools to facilitate conversations about world events and news stories, developed a guide to help families talk about gun violence and mass shooting. Although we are frustrated, sad, angered, and upset by the fact that these shootings continue with regularity, we have to sit with our children and give this news context…let them explore the issues raised by gun violence…maybe one day they will have some answers.
November 8, 2015: As he left a rally on November 4, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish Israeli student. The quest for peace that Rabin strived for has proved elusive, with refused Israeli offers and pervasive Palestinian terror. We can only imagine Rabin’s impact had he lived. We must carry on this work and never cease endeavor towards a secure, lasting peace. President Clinton famously uttered ‘Shalom, Chaver’ – ‘Goodbye, Friend’ – when eulogizing Rabin. Shalom, can mean ‘goodbye’, ‘hello’ and ‘peace’. Twenty years gone, ‘Peace, Friend’ can be more than a eulogy. It can be a declaration of principles for all sides and the only foundation upon which we can build.
November 1, 2015: A Palm Beach Gardens officer recently killed Corey Jones on I-95. The FBI, State Attorney, and others are investigating. The details they release will hold the key to our understanding of this particular encounter. Whether this incident proves to be bias-motivated or not, however, it underscores the ongoing, articulated concerns of minorities with unequal justice. The reflex for many is either to dismiss such incidents as exceptions, or overstate them without taking into account law enforcement’s immense responsibilities. What is certain – we must all have the courage to listen deeply, and for now, to express our condolences to the Jones family.
October 24, 2015: Social media is a tool that can mobilize us for good or evil. Many have benefited from amplifying important causes on social media. Yet, these platforms – more than ever before – are currently being used to drive terror against Israelis. Instructional videos on stabbing, unfounded allegations of a Jewish/Israeli conspiracy to take over the Al Aqsa Mosque, clips of Muslim preachers calling for attacks on Jews, images, and hashtags, are all going viral. Palestinian and Arab leadership continue to spread incendiary rhetoric. It’s important – take the time to report incendiary speech you read online, and to challenge hate speech with good, civil speech.
October 18, 2015: Every October 11th for almost three decades has been ‘National Coming Out Day’. Many Americans live under the constant pressure of hiding their identities, having yet to reveal their sexual orientations or identities to friends, families, and loved ones. This day offers an opportunity to celebrate those who have come out — their courage inspires others. October 11th is also a day for friends, family and members of the community to seize the opportunity to come out as allies. And once we are allies, standing up and showing support can be a 365 day venture.
October 11, 2015: Miami-Dade Police Department Director J.D. Patterson, recently returned to south Florida from travel to Israel with the Anti-Defamation League’s National Counter-Terrorism Seminar. In years past, participants have come from St. Petersburg and the University of Central Florida. During the trip, American and Israeli law enforcement exchange knowledge and best practices on counter-terrorism policing, both proactive and reactive. They meet counter-terrorism experts, police and intelligence officers, and more. They visit strategically important sites, and see first-hand the methods, technologies, and resources that Israeli security and law enforcement utilize. By focusing on techniques that can be shared, we hope to create a safer Florida.
October 4 , 2015: October is National Bullying Awareness Month. Often, those targeted by bullying are those with physical, mental, or other disabilities. And often, those targeted have no allies – no one to turn to or stand up for them. It is a great time for FAU to be opening an Academy for Community Inclusion, designed to teach job and life skills to persons with disabilities. Given resources and support, those among us with such hardships can not only progress beyond their own limitations, but break boundaries for all of society. People can be cruel, devaluing those with disabilities. Kudos to FAU.
September 27 , 2015: This week was the groundbreaking ceremony for a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Northwest Regional Library in Coral Springs. ADL is a co-sponsor and community partner in this project. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy,” Dr. King wrote. Challenge and controversy abound in American domestic and foreign policy. I can think of no better time for us to rededicate ourselves to Dr. King’s ideals. Let’s measure up this election cycle.
September 20, 2015: Looking ahead: While national headlines have focused on a Kentucky clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Florida headlines showed promise; soon, official marital and divorce forms in Florida will dawn the term “spouse” instead of “husband and wife.” It is a small sign of our progress, since the ruling by a federal judge in Tallahassee last August of Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Still more must be done, like putting a stop to employment and housing discrimination and enhancing Florida’s hate-crime protections. We should take time to celebrate progress, but we cannot settle until we resolve conclusively every injustice.
September 13, 2015: Looking ahead: A new year is marked this week by the Jewish community. Each year, ADL wishes constituents a year free from hate. This past year, we’ve seen no end to hate espoused in public debate on immigration, gay marriage, law enforcement and community relations, the Middle eastern conflict, and voting rights. Virulent bigotry and stereotypes are simply anti-American, no matter your approach to arguable issues. As I join with my family and friends over this holiday in the spirit of renewal, I will let them know that xenophobia is unacceptable to me as a Jew and as an American – we too have been strangers in a strange land.
September 6, 2015: Stories of religious institutions being targeted by violent extremists are no longer uncommon. Approximately 300 South Floridians came together to address protecting and better securing their places of worship. Leaders of religious institutions learned practical security measures, and addressed the serious issue of maintaining welcoming places of worship while implementing best security practices. The ADL recommends that leaders in religious institutions reach out and build relationships with their local law enforcement.
August 30, 2015: The trial began this week of a former Klansman who murdered three people at a Jewish Community Center and a retirement community in Overland Park, Kansas last April. News from the trial reminds us of the fragile balance between freedoms and security. From Miami to Pensacola, churches, synagogues, temples and other religious institutions are targets for extremists. It is because of this reality that ADL is holding security seminars throughout South Florida in the coming weeks for Jewish and non-Jewish religious institutions. The most important point to convey at these seminars is that it is essential to work with law enforcement and to be proactive assessing, planning, and implementing security procedures for your religious organization or institution.
August 23, 2015: Every 90 minutes, a hate crime is committed in the U.S. Today, the federal government, 45 states, and D.C. all have hate crime laws. More needs to be done. “50 States Against Hate” is a new ADL initiative designed to enact hate crime laws in five states currently lacking them, and make other states’ existing laws more inclusive. While strong, Florida’s laws do not offer protection in crimes targeting victims due to gender or gender identity. Hate crimes have a profound impact that extends far beyond the specific victims they are directed at. There is truly no place for hate in America today.
August 16, 2015: According to the Florida Department of Education, in the 2013-14 school year more than 3,800 incidents of bullying were reported. This does not include the untold numbers – targets and bystanders – who do not report. In fact, research indicates 47% of high school students nationwide tell no one at all. Administrators and educators should proactively look at the values and culture of their educational institutions, and strive to create school communities of allies. Nationwide, 160,000 children stay at home each day rather than face bullying at their school. This school year – let’s do all we can to bring that number down to zero.
August 9, 2015: Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) eliminating discriminatory barriers to voting and advancing equal political participation for all. Following the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, states began enacting laws that threatened to disproportionately disenfranchise minority, young, poor and elderly voters. Let’s correct this. Urge Congress to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 (VRAA). It supplies a new formula compelling states with a recent history of voting discrimination to checks and balances on future voting changes. This will help ensure that all Americans and all Floridians can have their say in our democracy.”
August 2, 2015: Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This pivotal legislation ensures equal treatment and access under the law for people with disabilities pertaining to employment and public accommodations. The ADA’s had tremendous impact creating fairer opportunities – we have more to do as individuals. Wake up today and see everyone with the same value regardless of perceived disability. Treat those you come across with respect regardless of pre-conceived notions about background and ability. The ADA has improved fairness on the ground – it is our job through personal interactions – to raise the collective consciousness and alleviate bias.
July 26, 2015: Last week: After 50 years with the ADL, National Director Abe Foxman has retired to National Director Emeritus. Nuance is rare in today’s quick-to-judge society. And even rarer is believing and allowing the hearts and minds of people to change. With Abe’s leadership, we were often first to call out anti-Semitism and bigotry, but we were also first to forgive. Abe’s relentless work to build global human bridges, to stand up for those needing a voice and to call out anti-Semitism and bigotry have made our country stronger. Thank you, Abe – you have touched and improved the lives of so many.
Looking ahead: Jonathan Greenblatt, an accomplished entrepreneur with passion for and experience making a difference, assumed the role of ADL’s National Director. Jonathan sees the ADL as an integral American institution. He embraces its ‘double-helixed’ mission – to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and fight to secure justice for all. He recently wrote, “When fair treatment is secured for all, democracy is strengthened and that is good for its Jews and other minorities. And when Jews and other minorities can live safely and securely, that is good for our country.” Thank you Jonathan – for your dedication to this ever important mission.
July 19, 2015: ADL has deep concerns about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran (JCPOA), as it appears to fall far short of ensuring that Iran will not become a nuclear weapon state in the long-term. Also, the JCPOA does not appear to prevent long-term Iranian nuclear weapon capabilities. Much of the world may look at this deal as a conclusion, rather than a step. Congress must now analyze the agreement, gather information from experts, and assess the deal’s implications for the U.S. and all of its allies. An open and respectful consideration that rejects partisan attacks is necessary.
July 12, 2015: Last year, I wrote here about ADL’s Global 100 poll – a first of its kind initiative where we determined levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in 102 countries. We found 26% of the world’s population harbored such attitudes. Recently, we revisited 19 countries. This past year saw shocking violence against Jews in Western Europe. New polling shows levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in France, Germany, and Belgium registering significant reductions. Strong condemnation by political and civic leaders – as was done in these countries – makes anti-Semitism less acceptable. This reminds us that standing up to bigotry whenever and wherever it appears will make a difference.
July 5, 2015: Last week’s Supreme Court decision heralded a historic step toward full civil rights for LGBT Americans. Florida has some inclusive anti-discrimination laws, and in certain circumstances Floridians are covered under the Federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act. However, in Florida a person can still be fired for being gay or transgender. The next important step is for the legislature to add protections to the Florida Civil Rights Act for the LGBT community against employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination. “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote. Let us all hold that truth to be self-evident.
June 28, 2015: In 1989, Florida enacted a state hate crime law. Forty-five states and D.C. now have hate crimes laws to ensure tougher penalties for criminals who target their victims because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. In 2009, a federal hate crime law was established. However, South Carolina still does not have a state hate crime law. The horrific racist-motivated murder of nine human beings in Charleston won’t be acknowledged by the state of South Carolina as a hate crime; it is crucial that the remaining states pass this important legislation.
June 7, 2015: This week, Bruce Jenner revealed herself as Caitlyn Jenner. In response, social media has been full of images and comments that appeal to hate directed not only at Caitlyn but at the transgender community – and this includes users around Florida. Whether you choose to refer to her as Bruce or as Caitlyn, let’s remember she is a human being first. Hate speech is legal in our country; however, so is speech used to repudiate it. Those who would speak out against other forms of hate, racism, and bigotry MUST speak out now as well.
May 31, 2015: The U.S. Civil war ended 150 years ago. While the battlefields are silent, hatred, inequity and opportunity gaps remain to this day. We have no doubt made significant progress. Yet, in 2015 in Florida and beyond, much bigotry is now implicit rather than explicit. For example, suggested bills in Tallahassee still include legislation meant to divide rather than unite. Also, we have unintentionally created a school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately affecting some Floridians. Though we are proud of how far we have come 150 years later, we are not done finding better ways to create equality and justice for all Americans.
May 26, 2015: Too often, children’s voices echo hatred, bigotry, and bullying in society. We have found that hatred is best challenged among Florida school-aged children when an atmosphere of allies is created. ADL has recognized many schools as No Place for Hate® in Florida since 2007. From schools like Cutler Bay HS in Miami to Space of Mind in Delray Beach, from Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton to Northeast HS in Oakland Park, students throughout South Florida have completed school-wide anti-bias programming so they know they have allies and are better able to stand up against hate and bullying.
May 17, 2015: The Catholic Church has made tremendous strides in its outreach and relationship with the Jewish community and State of Israel. ADL, in Florida and around the world, has done great work to further this cooperation. However, we are disappointed that the Vatican intends to officially recognize the State of Palestine. This decades-old conflict will only be resolved through direct negotiations, with painful concessions by both sides, and with Palestinian recognition of the Jewish State of Israel. While we don’t question the Vatican’s commitment to Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, this premature recognition rewards Palestinian circumvention of directly dealing with Israel.
May 10, 2015: Next week, local attorney Gary Lesser of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, will receive the Anti-Defamation League’s 2015 Palm Beach Jurisprudence Award. In both his professional work and his personal volunteer work, Gary exemplifies the League’s primary principle to secure justice and fair treatment for all. It is important to honor Gary and others who lead by standing up, seeking justice and looking out for others. He is our ambassador and we should be proud that Gary Lesser is a member of our south Florida community.
May 3, 2015: On April 18th, Onesimo Marcelino Lopez-Ramos was brutally murdered by three individuals who allegedly targeted him because they were ‘hunting’ for Guatemalans. These perpetrators acted with great cowardice, un-American bigotry and an inhuman sickness of ideological hate. Thank you to the Jupiter Police Department for their swift apprehension of the suspects; we expect based on the evidence that this murder will be charged and prosecuted as a hate crime. No words can bring Onesimo back. But just maybe – if more of us can speak out against hate – we can intervene before the next time.
April 26, 2015: This week, Israel marked its 67th year. There is a great deal to celebrate – a robust economy and the evolution of a ‘start-up’ nation. Florida and Israel have a history of cooperation in security, technology, and the sciences. While the State of Israel is celebrating its freedom and independence, the world owes a great dependence to the Jewish State. Nowhere is the experiment of democracy so tested and challenged. Golda Meir wrote in her autobiography “…My vision for our future?…An Israel that remains a flourishing democracy and a society resting firmly on social justice and equality.” May all nations and peoples strive towards the same goal.
April 12, 2015: On March 30th, the world lost a true hero – Dr. Leon Bass – an African-American Veteran and Liberator of Buchenwald. Having endured horrific racism himself, he decided to educate and inspire action in others, including young students from Florida. Each year, ADL sends a group of students of diverse backgrounds to the Grosfeld Family National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington, D.C. Students view issues of contemporary bias through the lens of the Holocaust. This past week marked 70 years since Buchenwald’s liberation, and since Dr. Bass said – never again. May his voice echo in our children’s hearts.
March 28, 2015: Ten years ago this week, under the leadership of philanthropist Yossie Hollander, ADL joined with Yad Vashem and USC Shoah Foundation to launch Echoes and Reflections – a modern multimedia curriculum to enhance the landscape of Holocaust education. More than 25,000 educators have been trained across the country, including nearly 2,500 educators here in Florida – the most of any state, and impacting hundreds of thousands of students. Using visual history testimony, Echoes helps today’s students comprehend the enormity of the Holocaust, and how these issues are relevant to today’s society, as well as to their own individual world outlook.
March 20, 2015: This week, Florida law enforcement officers with the Tampa Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Jane Castor, received LEAS (Law Enforcement and Society) training with the ADL and the Florida Holocaust Museum. Officers examined the Holocaust through the lens of law enforcement, and discussed the role of law enforcement in a democracy today. Valuing and respecting diversity – standing for individual rights – serving the citizenry without being swayed by politics – standing for something bigger than oneself, is paramount to good police work. Chief Castor and her officers are leaders in this important work.
March 8, 2015: March 7th marks 50 years since Bloody Sunday, when the nation’s attention turned to Selma. Shortly after, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. The Act became one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation. African-American voter registration rates and the number of African-Americans elected to office increased dramatically. In 2013, however, the Supreme Court struck a major blow to the Voting Rights Act, gutting the heart of the legislation. Congress has work to do now to fix the Voting Rights Act to again ensure that Americans can exercise their fundamental right to vote. Please reach out and call your legislators to task.
February 19, 2015: A resolution is making its way through the Senate denouncing the upsurge in anti-Semitism in Europe (the Menendez/Kirk Resolution). Recent individual incidents have captured the world’s attention. Additionally, the general trend of anti-Semitic attitudes as documented in ADL’s Global 100 poll last year showed an average of 24% of adults harbor anti-Semitic attitudes in Western Europe. It is crucial, now more than ever, for the US government to fortify the Jewish community’s message to European leaders: all concerned must act quickly and effectively to ensure that anti-Semitism does not plague that continent again.
February 5, 2015: Governments should respond clearly and publicly to anti-Semitic incidents. We commend French Prime Minister Valls for doing so to the National Assembly after the murder of four Jewish hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris. New measures are being prepared to address anti-Semitism in France. Valls said to the assembly, “…the intolerable rise in acts of anti-Semitism…have not aroused the outrage expected by our Jewish compatriots…It’s up to us to proclaim this message loud and clear. We haven’t said it; we’re not outraged enough.” Go to www.adl.org to urge other European leaders to speak out against anti-Semitism. Enough is enough.
January 22, 2015: This week a controversy took on international proportions with the infamous ‘selfie’ taken at the Miss Universe pageant. It is sad when a young Lebanese woman cannot be photographed with an Israeli for fear of punishment and sanction. Something as benign as an international pageant, with contestants having shared personal and cultural experiences, should be celebrated – not used as a platform for hatred and bigotry. It is time – from pageants, to sports, to international diplomacy – to stand up and reject the appeals to bigotry, racism, and prejudice. The ‘selfie’ in question showed women of various nationalities standing together. May we all do the same.
January 15, 2015: The terror attacks in Paris were shocking to people around the world. Though sadly not shocking but still very disturbing conspiracy theories promoted by anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists blaming Jews and Israel immediately surfaced. Former President Jimmy Carter also attempted to draw a straight line between the attacks and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during an interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Unfortunately, anti-Semitic narratives continue to radicalize domestic and international followers with tragic results.
January 8, 2015: Many have worked tirelessly for the recent victory allowing same-sex couples to enjoy the fundamental right to civil marriage in Florida. ADL was proud to file an amicus curiae brief in the 11th Circuit Court supporting the fundamental right to civil marriage for all Floridians. One hurdle has been overcome in the march towards equality; there is more to be done to ensure that all Americans are not relegated to a second-class status in the eyes of the law. Education is imperative to counteract hatred and bigotry. Let’s keep working tirelessly to ensure justice and fair treatment for all.
July 28, 2014: As expected, those who harbor anti-Semitic views are exploiting the mounting crisis between Hamas and Israel to unleash anti-Semitism. In Turkey, growing hostility toward Israel is increasingly being directed at the local Jewish community. Synagogues in France, Germany and Italy were targeted last week, and calls to kill Jews have been made at anti-Israel demonstrations. Anti-Semitic signs have appeared at anti-Israel protests in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile and even in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Regardless of what happens in the Middle East, there is no justification for anti-Semitism. Political leaders and law enforcement must take action against such tactics.
July 24, 2014: Israel has been facing an uphill battle in the latest public relations war in social media, which has witnessed an increase of anti- Israel rhetoric. In addition to targeting Israelis with rockets from Gaza, the terrorist organization Hamas is exploiting Internet and social media platforms to spread propaganda on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Google+. Despite the onslaught of anti-Israel expressions, pro-Israel advocates in South Florida are standing up in the face of adversity by holding heartfelt pro-Israel rallies in Boca Raton, Davie, Hollywood and Miami Beach. The message is clear: support peace and reject Hamas’ platform of terror.
July 14, 2014: The escalation of conflict in the Middle East has led to a wave of opinion in the news and social media where the actions of Israel’s Defense Forces and the actions of Hamas are being equated — deemed tit-for-tat. Calling an apple an orange will never make that apple an orange; trying to “explain” the acts of a terrorist group — which targets rockets at civilians with zero regard for where they land, which murders Israeli teens, and which teaches its own to hate — will never make those action legitimate or justified. The world must stand with Israel and reject Hamas.
July 8, 2014: The abduction and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, teens who were kidnapped on their way home from school, was shocking and alarming. In the days since their funeral, Israelis and Jews around the world have come together to mourn and reflect. In their eulogies, the parents of the three spoke of faith, unity and love. They did not call for vengeance or conflict. The world should learn from these remarkable families who demonstrated wisdom, composure and strength at a time of great personal and national crisis.
June 23, 2014: Against the backdrop of the abduction of three Israeli teens, apparently by Hamas, social media is serving as a platform of support for the kidnapped boys and their families. At the same time, we have tracked a cynical, hateful and dangerous campaign glorifying the kidnapping. Palestinians and others across the Arab and Muslim world are celebrating the kidnapping with photos, cartoons, blog posts, memes and even songs. The choice for Palestinian leadership and society is will they continue aligning with forces promoting terror, violence and conflict? Or, will they reject hatred and take steps necessary for reconciliation and peace?
June 16, 2014: The recent fatal shootings in Nevada of two police officers and a civilian by anti-government extremists are the latest sign of resurgent right-wing extremism — if the country needed any reminder after the three victims in Overland Park, Kansas, murdered by a white supremacist in April. In the past five years, police have engaged in shootouts with right-wing extremists a full 39 separate times. Florida, sadly, is no refuge from extremist violence. Just on June 11, an anti-government “sovereign citizen” in New Tampa pleaded guilty to pulling a handgun on a customer in a car dealership and threatening to kill him.
June 16, 2014: The Chair and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Reps. Ed Royce (R- CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) are leading an effort to ask Members of Congress to rededicate themselves to America’s leadership against anti-Semitism by signing a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Kerry. This letter calls for reaffirming America’s commitment to elevating the fight against anti-Semitism as part of America’s foreign policy. Already, seven Members of the House from Florida have signed on: Ron DeSantis (R), Ted Deutch (D), Alan Grayson (D), Lois Frankel (D), Alcee Hastings (D), Patrick E. Murphy (D), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D).
June 10, 2014: Until Hamas renounces terror against Israel, acknowledges Israel’s right to exist and accepts all prior agreements, we are opposed to the U.S. and the international community recognizing the new Fatah-Hamas unity government headed by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. This new unity government strays from the path toward Israeli-Palestinian peace by joining with a terrorist organization that continues advocating for Israel’s violent destruction. Congress should impose a “pause” on U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority.
June 3, 2014: The terror attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels that killed four people is a tragic reminder of the insecurity facing Jews in Europe. Openly anti-Semitic political parties are on the rise in several EU states and disconcerting levels of anti-Semitic attitudes exist in many others. Social media also amplifies anti-Semitic expressions. When an Israeli basketball team defeated a Spanish team for the European championship, 17,500-plus tweets were posted with #putosjudios (“f—ingJews”), including calls for Jews to be sent to gas chambers and praise for Hitler. Leaders must take a stand to stop this wave of hate.
May 27, 2014: State Rep. Charles Van Zant should retract and apologize for recently uncovered anti-LGBT comments he made at an Orlando conference in March. His erroneous assertions about school materials on LGBT youth produced by American Institutes for Research, Florida’s new vendor for public school accountability testing, included disparaging and insulting comments about the LGBT community. Such a statement coming from an official having a constitutional duty to treat all citizens equally is particularly hurtful and offensive. As a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization, ADL does not support or oppose candidates for public office.
May 19, 2014: Why, 70 years after the Holocaust, is anti-Semitism alive and well in diverse cultural, political, geographic and religious environments? What can be done to turn this tide? ADL just released Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism which surveyed 53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories — in an unprecedented effort to establish a comprehensive worldwide data-based survey of the level and intensity of global anti-Jewish sentiment. The survey found that 26 percent of those surveyed, are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes, a figure representing an estimated 1.09 billion people worldwide. Visit http://global100.adl.org. There is much work to be done.
May 12, 2014: Let’s applaud the 45 elementary, middle and high schools throughout South Florida that are being designated by ADL this month as No Place for Hate® during special banner presentation ceremonies. No Place for Hate® is ADL’s signature anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying initiative that requires schools, students and educators to commit to creating a bias-free environment through school-wide workshops and activities during the school calendar year. No Place for Hate® empowers schools to promote respect for individual and group differences while challenging prejudice and bigotry. This is a victory for bullying-prevention, but more anti-bias education is needed.
May 12, 2014: The LGBT community in Florida remains vulnerable and unprotected when it comes to significant civil rights issues including discrimination and marriage equality. Local leaders discussed successes and challenges in securing civil rights protections for all LGBT Floridians in a panel discussion last week organized by Temple Beth El of Boca Raton and the Anti-Defamation League. The diverse panel and participants agreed — we must work together for bi-partisan support and coalition partners to break the destructive spirit of anti-gay laws, ordinances and attitudes in Florida — and we will.
May 5, 2014: The Anti-Defamation League condemns the reported anti-Semitic activity discovered by UCF students at an off-campus housing complex over the last few weeks. According to reports, one student’s mezuzah was ripped from her doorway and left broken on the ground and nearly a dozen swastikas were discovered carved into the walls of the same apartment complex. On the heels of having just commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is especially upsetting that Jewish UCF students were confronted with such abhorrent anti-Semitic symbols at their home away from home.
April 7, 2014: According to ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents released last week, there were 68 incidents of anti-Semitism in Florida in 2013 marking a 23 percent decrease from 2012. This latest snapshot of anti-Semitism in Florida reflects the positive progress being made in society, and the greater acceptance that the Jewish community has found. While we are encouraged by the decline, we are once again reminded that anti-Semitism still exists. Jews are still harassed. Jewish institutions are still vandalized. We will continue to do our part in eradicating anti-Jewish bigotry through education and public awareness campaigns and work with law enforcement.
March 17, 2014: Ukraine’s revolution has taken “politics makes strange bedfellows” to a new extreme. Ukrainian ultra-nationalists used to curse Ukraine’s leaders as the “Russkie-Yid mafia.” Recently, ultra-nationalist revolutionaries praised their Jewish comrades-in-arms, gave statements reassuring the Ukrainian Jewish community, and had a friendly visit with the Israeli ambassador in Kiev. While there have been a few anti-Semitic incidents over the past weeks — including a serious attack on Thursday — most Ukrainian Jewish leaders are not alarmed.
March 11, 2014: The First Amendment is a powerful right. It protects all speech, including extremist speech. This week, a neighborhood in West Boca Raton was faced with a decision — denounce the display of a Ku Klux Klan flag and a noose on a neighbor’s front lawn or remain quiet. The community-wide response through media reports and ADL’s strong public condemnation of these highly offensive symbols prevailed — causing the perpetrator to retreat and remove the flag and noose. This is a great lesson for our youth; don’t be a bystander. Speak out, stand up and help prevent hate from having the last word.
March 3, 2014: ADL prepares college students in Florida with a broad range of preventive and reactive programs and resources to address the challenges of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity on campus. With nearly 40,000 Jewish students enrolled in Florida’s college campuses, there has been a disturbing increase in incidents of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity on our state’s most prestigious universities. ADL is proud to co-sponsor the Future Leaders for Israel student conference at FAU this month to promote pro- Israel advocacy on Florida college campuses, as well provide a pro-Israel presentation at FIU’s Peace Week also this month.
March 3, 2014: As an organization which tries to counter hate speech and stereotypes, we are particularly pleased with the NFL’s reported consideration of a policy that would penalize players for using discriminatory language during football games. Offensive slurs and racist name-calling have no place on playing fields or in locker rooms.
February 25, 2014: There are two in-state tuition bills pending before the Florida Legislature for the 2014 session. One codifies existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent providing in-state tuition to children of undocumented parents. The other is a broader bill that would provide in-state tuition to undocumented children known as Dreamers. While comprehensive federal immigration reform and the Dream Act languish in Congress, Florida should pass the broader bill giving both groups of children a chance to obtain one of the fundamental components of the American dream: an education.
January 28, 2014: In reaction to publishing a hateful and anti-Semitic editorial cartoon depicting the age-old anti-Jewish canard of Jewish control, ADL called on The Economist to issue an apology. It is unacceptable that one of the only remaining widespread weekly news magazines would so readily perpetuate negative stereotypes. ADL requested that the apology admit the offensive message contained in the cartoon, and explain to readers why such contemptible imagery is rooted in hate and hurtful anti-Semitism.
January 21, 2014: As we celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday tomorrow, it is important to reinforce Dr. King’s legacy to the next generation. We must continue to challenge bias and motivate students to stand up against injustice. The Anti- Defamation League honors Dr. King’s legacy through our newly-released curriculum for grades 3-12 entitled “Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights: Relevancy for Today,” a free online resource for educators in need of new and engaging methods to promote social justice and anti-bias themes in their classrooms.
January 15, 2014: A Chilean soccer club violated FIFA regulations when its players donned anti-Israel jerseys instead of standard uniforms. The United Arab Emirates reportedly barred an Israeli athlete from entering the country to play for Dutch soccer team Vitesse Amhem. And NBA player Tony Parker was seen using the “quenelle” Nazi-like gesture in photos. Parker has apologized and ADL has accepted this apology; we are still waiting to hear from FIFA. Athletes are role models all over the world — we must speak out when they use their authority to further hate and prejudice.
January 6, 2014: Hate crimes statistics were released for Florida this week. As reporting of hate crimes by local law enforcement to federal agencies is not mandatory, many of our cities either did not report or reported zero hate crimes. We are profoundly disappointed. Our nation has made great strides in combating hate crimes over the past decade, notably with passage of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA). Behind the numbers are individuals and communities deeply affected by these crimes. To truly be ready and willing to respond to hate violence effectively, agencies need to participate in the HCSA reporting program.
December 30, 2013: The level of anti-Semitic attitudes reached historic lows in the U.S. in 2013. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism in Florida, the U.S. and abroad persists. Jewish communities around the world, particularly those in Europe and South America, witnessed a rise in serious anti-Jewish assaults, vandalism and harassment. Neo-Nazi and extremist parties participate in the parliaments of four European nations: Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Ukraine. In 2014, ADL will continue to work toward our century-old mission — to combat anti-Semitism and secure justice and fair treatment for all.
December 23, 2013: “Shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest” is how the Anti-Defamation League described the decision by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This violation of the fundamental tenet of academic freedom must be condemned by all who believe that the free exchange of ideas leads to greater understanding and the betterment of society. Moreover, targeting Israeli institutions is based on a myopic and distorted perspective of Israel and is manifestly unjust. We call on academic institutions in Florida and nationwide to enhance their existing relationships with Israeli universities and stand in support of open exchange, dialogue and study.
December 9, 2013: Kanye West fueled a classic anti-Semitic stereotype last week during a radio interview in which he allegedly said that “Black People don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people.” In the interview, Kanye was attempting to explain President Obama’s inability to gain momentum on his policy priorities in D.C. This is an age-old canard about Jews being all-powerful and controlling the government. ADL has called for Kanye to apologize to those he offended.
December 2, 2013: The FBI released its annual Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) Report and should be praised for this important work. Yet, something is not right — 9 major Florida municipalities reported zero hate crimes in their jurisdictions — other Florida municipalities failed to issue reports altogether. A myriad of Florida law enforcement agencies take great lengths to train their departments to identify and report hate crimes. ADL looks forward to working to ensure that this important data is transmitted to federal agencies. Since its inception, the HCSA has become vital for criminologists, policymakers and others in analyzing hate-motivated criminal activity in America.
November 18, 2013: On Nov. 9, Jews commemorated the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), a wave of mob violence against Austrian and German Jews who were attacked on the streets and murdered in their homes, workplaces and synagogues. This anniversary reinforces our determination to prevent hatred. On Nov. 14 in West Palm Beach, 36 artists exposed this mission through a moving exhibit honoring ADL’s centennial. Bill Farran, used linocuts of wooden synagogues to portray the vibrancy of Jewish life in Europe before the war — reminding us life is precious — and we must stop hate from spreading before it takes root.
November 11, 2013: No matter where it takes place – in the classroom, on the playground, in a text message, on Facebook or in an NFL locker room – racism, bullying, discrimination and name-calling harm us. It is first and foremost up to those who hold leadership roles to ascertain and respond to these problems. ADL has called upon the Dolphins and the NFL to investigate specific troubling allegations concerning bullying and racial slurs, and to determine whether it is an isolated incident or more widespread. Athleticism and strength are celebrated in American athletes. Disrespectful and out-of-control behavior is not.
November 4, 2013: The heartbreaking story behind the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick in Polk County, Fl., continues to unravel. Troubling suspicions that cyber-bullying may have been a contributing factor to Rebecca’s suicide have led to the arrests of two young girls, adding to the extensive layers unfolding around this tragic case. It is critical we navigate the complex intersecting issues of free speech, school discipline and policy, parental supervision, prevention, general civil discourse and the dangers of cyber-bullying — for thus far, there has been no justice for Rebecca Sedwick.
October 28, 2013: The Duval County School Board will soon start deliberating whether to rename a high school named after the first Grand Dragon of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest. Emerging after the Civil War, the Klan is America’s first true terrorist group. A public school bearing Forrest’s name implicitly endorses his leadership in the KKK and the Klan’s violent racism and bigotry. Particularly in light of Duval County’s rich diversity, ADL urged the board to rename the school to remove any perceived endorsement of the Klan’s ugly history and foster a respectful learning environment for all.
October 21, 2013: What’s in a name? In the context of sports team names and stereotypes, there are certain namesakes, mascots and logos that are offensive. This week, the Anti-Defamation League weighed in on this debate calling on professional sports teams to seriously consider moving away from the use of hurtful names, recognizing that this decision should ultimately be made by team owners combined with input from fans. We have come a long way in preventing discrimination and promoting diversity, and given the starring role sports play within American culture, we hope that American standards of inclusion, pluralism and equality will prevail.
October 14, 2013: What an honor it is for the Anti-Defamation League, GirlFuture, and a coalition of 12 other local organizations to present “Girl Power Day” on Oct. 13th – an innovative breakthrough for girls’ programming in Palm Beach County. In celebration of the International Day of the Girl, over two dozen interactive workshops will be offered for girls between grades 4-12 on topics including: bullying, body image, self-esteem, leadership, parent-daughter communication, decision-making, and financial and media literacy. It’s not too late to register today – bring your daughters/granddaughters.
October 7, 2013: The United Nations achieved the height of hypocrisy on Oct. 1 by electing Iran to serve as rapporteur for a U.N. committee in charge of disarmament and threats to peace. Paradoxically, on that same day, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the U.N. General Assembly concerning the global community’s greatest challenge: Iran’s violations of international conventions, its threats to peace through its nuclear weapons program, and its sponsorship of global terrorism. Iran’s election to this leadership role further undermines the U.N.’s credibility.
October 2, 2013: One step forward, two steps back. That sums up Iranian President Rouhani’s recognition of the Holocaust last week. While Rouhani’s acknowledgment of the Holocaust is a direct reversal to the ugly Holocaust denial statements made by previous Iranian leaders, his comments on CNN illegitimately drew a moral equivalency between the Nazis’ murder of six million Jews and millions of other innocent people, and the plight of the Palestinian people. This pale form of Holocaust revisionism is demeaning to those who perished in and survived the Holocaust.
September 23, 2013: How sad that the first time a woman of Indian descent wins the Miss America title, it is stained by hateful messages. Ms. Nina Davuluri has been viciously ridiculed through offensive accusations, which include being called an “Arab terrorist” linked to 9/11. In 1945, when Bess Myerson became the first Jewish woman to win the Miss America title, she faced open prejudice and bigotry when sponsors associated with the pageant refused to recognize her. Nearly 60 years later, we all need to work harder to ensure that America embraces and celebrates diversity.
Source: Sun Sentinel