Partners in the battle against antisemitism

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The announcement last week that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is leading a group of Jewish and Black senators in establishing a coalition to fight antisemitism and racism is welcome news. Booker is a good friend of the Jewish community, and we are pleased to see that he has already been joined by Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tim Scott (R-S. C.).

“The Black community understands the pain of discrimination that our Jewish friends have faced both here and abroad,” Scott said in a statement. “With anti-Semitism on the rise, it’s increasingly important that we stand united.”

We agree. Our community is strengthened by the support of allies. Coalitions among those in a position to support shared objectives are necessary in order to pass legislation and to effect change. We cannot do it alone. We rely on our allies and friends — just as our community has been present and supportive of others in times of need.

The recent fighting between Hamas in Gaza and Israel coincided with a burst of hostilities against Jews in this country and abroad. As we noted in this space last week, the Secure Community Network reported an 80% increase in antisemitic attacks last month. And it’s getting worse. In just one week in May, the Anti-Defamation League found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase, “Hitler was right.” And although that number lacks context — since we don’t know how many similar tweets there were in prior weeks — it is nonetheless disturbing. As Warnock put it, “We all have to hold the line against hate. We have to show up for one another. Coalitions certainly give us the power to do that.”

The Senate Coalition comes two years after the establishment of a similar Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations in the House. That’s good. But now that the structure is there, we need more than words — we need action. We call on the Senate coalition to act quickly to set goals, establish an agenda and take firm steps toward implementation. That includes pressing President Biden to appoint a Jewish liaison to the White House as well as a State Department ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat antisemitism. And it includes a concerted, bipartisan effort to pass the Prevent Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Act.

Finally, while the initial members of the Senate Coalition deserve praise, we expect to see more Jewish members of the Senate join its ranks. The Senate’s three Black members are all on board. We call on every Jewish senator to join, as well. The only ideology that matters here is the firm, unwavering commitment to fight antisemitism and bigotry in all of its ugly forms. Any Jewish senator that doesn’t join will have a lot of explaining to do.
Coalitions are formed because members believe that “we will support them, and at some point they will support us.” Our “some point” has arrived.

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