On Thursday night, the Union Temple synagogue was desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti reading “Kill All Jews” along with other threatening messages. Days before, Brooklyn Heights residents awoke to swastikas and anti African-American racial slurs drawn on buildings. Early this morning, multiple incidents of arson were committed near shuls in the largely Hasidic section of South Williamsburg. All of these hateful acts come days after 11 Jews were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. How we as a community and society react to these attacks will shape our future.
We cannot and will not be silent. We must condemn these attacks to the greatest extent possible. In the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” That is why we as a community, as friends, must come together to deny hate a safe refuge anywhere and everywhere.
One might wish to live in a world where simply ignoring hate leads to its eventual end. In such a world, we could hope to weaken hate by shaking our heads at swastikas painted crudely on houses of worship. We could dismiss hateful speech as ramblings of marginalized individuals. We could mourn, silently, for those who lost their lives in senseless violence. But we do not live in such a world. Complicit silence, at best, and outright bigotry at worst, at the highest levels of our government has stoked the fire of animosity and division. We must continue to fight back and refuse to be silent.
In the coming days, we will be coming together with community and faith leaders to publicly reject this violence and hate. In times where our most fundamental values are threatened, when our basic humanity is denied, when hateful rhetoric attempts to turn us against each other, that is when we must come together.
Council Member and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, District 35
Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., District 36
Council Member Brad Lander, District 39
Council Member Stephen Levin, District 33