By Cheryl Drazin
ADL Texoma is deeply grateful for law enforcement and first responders for their role in ending the tense hostage situation in Colleyville. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims and their families, who have endured a horrific trauma. We are sending our support to Congregation Beth Israel, who had their sacred space violated and we share the concern of the global Jewish community, who are painfully reminded, yet again that synagogues in America continue to be at risk for terrorist attacks.
This incident is a disturbing reminder of the need to call out and condemn antisemitism wherever it arises — whether it be in the form of vicious conspiracy theories about the Jewish people, or inflammatory rhetoric that demonizes the Jewish state. We must stomp out the hatred before it metastasizes into real-world violence.
Make no mistake about it, on Saturday the venue chosen was intentional. It was not a movie theater or a pizza parlor or a shopping mall. Violence in those places is horrific. It was a Jewish house of worship on our holy Sabbath — violence aimed at a synagogue is antisemitism.
While ADL has been tracking antisemitic activity for decades, we know that rates of antisemitism are rising in North Texas — from harassment to vandalism and assaults, the trend line is moving in the wrong direction. The 127% increase in antisemitic activity from 2019 to 2020 in North Texas underscores why data shows that Americans have become increasingly concerned about antisemitism and their personal and communal security.
Antisemitism is the world’s oldest hatred and these ideas have been around for centuries. So, in a time of rising hate, how do we push back against these antisemitic ideas and stop them from spreading?
It goes without saying that we need to build bridges to others in our communities. We know that Rabbi Cytron-Walker’s congregation was a model of efforts at bridge building and bringing in interfaith partners, and efforts such as these have been hugely successful in places such as Pittsburgh, New York and Los Angeles. But we still need to redouble this work on the ground across the country in every community, large and small, and really lean into it.
What does this work look like? It means getting to know each other. Learning from each other. Spending time outside of our own echo chambers, and really listening and hearing people’s ideas, even if they are different from or outside of our own. We are better as a country and as a society when we listen to our neighbors instead of constantly trying to drown each other out.
Education is also vitally important. The antisemitic notions that have fueled violence against Jews around the world were learned, and they can be unlearned. That is why ADL remains committed to bringing our No Place for Hate and A World of Difference anti-bias education programs into schools across the country and in Texas. Antisemitism education is also available at your fingertips with Words to Action for the Jewish community and BINAH for members of the global community.
Americans of all walks of life can also help in the fight by speaking out against hate and demanding that others do the same. This means speaking up even when it is hard to do so: for example, when the hatred is being expressed by one’s own friends, or the members of one’s own political party, or perhaps even from a co-worker or a supervisor or a family member. We all need to have more courage to speak up against this hate regardless of the source.
It is true to say that random acts of kindness can be just as contagious as acts of hate. Let’s recognize the humanity in each other and try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
At ADL, if there’s one thing we’ve learned in fighting antisemitism for more than 100 years, it is that there is no one panacea against antisemitic hate. It is a battle on all fronts, and it takes not just a few committed individuals, but an entire committed community, to end hate for good.
Join us on Sunday morning, April 3, for the ADL Walk Against Hate. Together we can move toward a future without antisemitism, bias or bullying of any kind and say there is no place for hate in our community https://www.walkagainsthate.org/dallas.
Thank for you helping to fight hate for good.
Cheryl Drazin is the vice president of ADL, Central Region.