Holocaust organizations, scholars and educators sound alarm on surge in hate crimes; issue call to action to lawmakers and citizens

by | Dec 21, 2016 | Other News

(New York, NY)—In a powerful statement issued by an array of Holocaust institutions, scholars and educators from around the world (including United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Holocaust Commission), an alarm is being sounded on the rise of groups that promote intolerance and promote hate speech. Ninety institutions and 71 individuals are calling on lawmakers to condemn white nationalist groups and ask citizens to be vigilant.

The statement reads:

Recent months have seen a surge in unabashed racism and hate speech— including blatant antisemitism and attacks on Hispanics, Muslims, African- Americans, women, the LGBTQ community, as well as other targeted groups. Journalists have been threatened. Places of worship, schools and playgrounds have been defaced with Nazi symbols intended to intimidate and arouse fear. White supremacist groups have become self-congratulatory and emboldened.

As Holocaust scholars, educators and institutions, we are alarmed by these trends. History teaches us that intolerance, unchecked, leads to persecution and violence. We denounce racism and the politics of fear that fuels it. We stand in solidarity with all vulnerable groups. We take Elie Wiesel’s words to heart: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.”

Therefore, we call upon all elected officials as well as all civic and religious leaders to forcefully and explicitly condemn the rise in hate speech and any attacks on our democratic principles. We call upon all media and social media platforms to refuse to provide a stage for hate groups and thus normalize their agenda. And we call upon all people of good conscience to be vigilant, to not be afraid, and to speak out.

This statement is co-authored by members of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, a network dedicated to the advancement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research.