Tidewater mayors join AJC’s international initiative focusing on anti-Semitism

by | Aug 18, 2015 | Other News

U.S. mayors across the country are joining an American Jewish Committee (AJC) initiative calling on their European counterparts to publicly address and take concrete actions against rising anti-Semitism.

“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,” states the Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism statement. The Mayors’ statement emphasizes that “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.”

The Mayors United Against Anti- Semitism project comes on the heels of AJC’s groundbreaking strategy conference, “A Defining Moment for Europe,” held in Brussels. At the May gathering, attended by representatives of nearly all European Union countries, AJC released the Call to Action, a detailed plan for European governments to prioritize and fight the escalating problem.

“Anti-Semitism is a cancer that, left unchecked, will metastasize and threaten to destroy the democratic and pluralistic nature of Europe,” said David Harris, AJC executive director, at the Brussels gathering.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, addressing the recent AJC Global Forum, said “AJC released a very thought-provoking ‘Call to Action’ on anti-Semitism that raises important recommendations that all of us can benefit from.”

U.S. mayors who have signed on to the initiative include 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 Setti Warren of Newton, Mass.

Joining these large cities, as the first mayors in Virginia to sign on to the AJC initiative were Will Sessoms of Virginia Beach, Alan Krasnoff of Chesapeake, Paul Fraim of Norfolk and Linda Johnson of Suffolk.

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; a declaration that anti-Semitism and any prejudices due to religious differences are inconsistent with core American values; and the belief that the promotion of mutual understanding and respect among all citizens is essential to good governance and democratic life.

The statement pledges a commitment to working within and across U.S. communities to advance the values of respectful coexistence. And 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.

“Anti-Semitic challenges facing Jews globally are so significant that it is important that we all do what we can to safeguard Jews facing those anti-Semitic threats. A strong statement from political and municipal leaders in the United States indicating that they are firmly committed to fighting anti-semitic actions throughout the world is important,” says Jody Wagner, who is leading the initiative in Tidewater.

“It tells foreign leaders that leaders in the United States are focused and watching what happens in their countries. I was sure that our mayors in Hampton Roads would want to make a statement on this important issue, and I am grateful that Mayors Fraim, Johnson, Krasnoff and Sessom did so,” says Wagner.

To learn more about the initiative, read the statement, or to see who else has signed on, visit www.AJC.org or email RMancoll@ujft.org.

by Robin Mancoll, director,
Community Relations Council