By Ben Tinsley
FORT WORTH — With a stroke of her pen, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on Tuesday, Aug. 25 officially endorsed the Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism Initiative championed by the American Jewish Committee.
In doing so, Mayor Price became part of a group of U.S. mayors around the country who are pressing their European counterparts to publicly address and take specific, concrete action against a rising wave of anti-Semitism. AJC Regional Offices across the country have been gathering mayoral signatures throughout the summer.
The mayor lauded the initiative, both during the signing and in a follow-up statement issued afterward.
“Hatred unchecked, against any community, is a disastrous thing,” she said. “From across the country, we as mayors formally acknowledge that anti-Semitism is unacceptable wherever it arises. Today, I reaffirmed the commitment to our country’s values that support democracy and freedom.”
The mayor is no stranger to inclusiveness. Under her watch, her own, highly successful interfaith council — of which Congregation Ahavath Sholom Rabbi Andrew Bloom is a member — was organized.
During the signing ceremony in her downtown Fort Worth City Hall office, Mayor Price said it is important for people of all faiths to pull together and work together and learn from one another.
“We get isolated in our own little niche and if we are not careful we can forget there are those who really need our help,” she said.
The mayor was joined during the signing by Kim Kamen, the AJC’s associate director of the department of regional offices; Casie Squires, the AJC’s Dallas assistant regional director; Harriet Whiting, a member of the AJC’s Dallas regional office executive committee; and prominent Fort Worth Jewish community member Red Goldstein. Also in the room was Mayor’s Aide Rachel Horton.
The Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism statement is plainly stated and emphatic in its inclusive stance.
“We call upon mayors, municipal leaders and other officials in Europe to join us in affirming that anti-Semitism is not compatible with fundamental democratic values,” it states. The Mayors’ statement emphasizes, “in a world of global communications where anti-Semitic ideas can and do spread quickly, the impact of the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe does not stop at Europe’s borders.”
As of Price’s signing, as many as 235 confirmed mayors and municipal leaders representing more than 64 million people had joined he effort, according to the AJC.
The U.S. mayors who have signed on to the initiative include Mike Rawlings of Dallas, Bill De Blasio of New York, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Ed Murray of Seattle, Annise Parker of Houston, Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Tomás Pedro Regalado of Miami, Marty Walsh of Boston, and many others.
The statement, incidentally, pledges a commitment to working within and across U.S. communities to advance the values of respectful coexistence. It calls on mayors and municipal leaders in Europe to add their names and to affirm that anti-Semitism is incompatible with fundamental democratic values.
The initiative was conceived and spearheaded by Mayor Setti Warren and AJC’s Boston Regional Office, according to the AJC.
The Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism statement affirms a core set of principles — including the condemnation of anti-Jewish hatred in all forms; rejection of the notion that anti-Semitic acts may ever be justified by one’s view on the actions or existence of the State of Israel; and declaration that anti-Semitism and any prejudices due to religious differences are inconsistent with core American values.
It also asserts the belief that the promotion of mutual understanding and respect among all citizens is essential to good governance and democratic life.