The mayors of Minnesota’s two largest cities are among the seven Minnesotans who have signed on to a new statement to combat antisemitism.
Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter of Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively, signed a statement that is part of a national effort of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) announced today the launch of a national effort to combat antisemitism. The two organizations, which have partnered on other projects, are calling on mayors across the country to sign a statement declaring that antisemitism is incompatible with fundamental democratic values.
“It is wonderful to see support for this initiative between AJC and the US Conference of Mayors take hold in Minnesota,” said Jacob Millner the AJC’s associate director of the Department of Regional Offices, and the director of the AJC’s Minneapolis-St. Paul office. “Antisemitism is not just a threat to Jews but to the very bedrock of civil society. I am grateful to the mayors who have, so far, come forward to forcefully say NO to antisemitism. This nationwide effort will hopefully not only bring greater awareness but also efforts to combat and educate.”
Joining Frey and Carter, are Mike Elliot (Brooklyn Center), Elizabeth Kautz (Burnsville), Brad Wiersum (Minnetonka), Jeff Wosje (Plymouth), Kim Norton (Rochester), and Jake Spano (St. Louis Park). The statement was released on Jan. 27 — International Holocaust Remembrance Day — and has 196 signers from 9 of the 10 largest cities in the country, 36 states and Washington, D.C., so far.
The statement, in part:
- Condemns antisemitism in all its forms, including hatred and prejudice directed toward Jews, stereotypes or conspiracy theories about Jews, Holocaust denial or distortion, and denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and/or the Jewish state’s right to exist;
- Supports national, state, and local government efforts directed at eradicating antisemitism and preventing extremist indoctrination and recruitment; and support expanded education programs, including Holocaust programs, to counter intolerance and discrimination;
- Rejects the notion that opinions about the policies, actions, or existence of the State of Israel can ever justify or excuse antisemitic acts.
“Antisemitism is a growing societal menace, it comes from multiple sources, and mayors are uniquely positioned to lead their cities in taking concerted steps to fight it,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “By launching this joint effort on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we recall the darkest period of genocide against the Jewish people, and the constant need for vigilance to guard against any and all forms of antisemitism.”
The AJC-USCM initiative comes as incidents of antisemitism, some of them violent, continue to rise across the United States, confirmed in FBI reports and AJC public opinion surveys. American Jews, who make up less than 2% of the American population, were the victims of 60.2% of anti-religious hate crimes, according to the FBI 2019 Hate Crimes Statistics report.
AJC’s 2020 State of Antisemitism in America report found that 88% of Jews considered antisemitism a problem today in the U.S., 35% had personally been victims of antisemitism over the past five years and 31% had taken measures to conceal their Jewishness in public. Moreover, the AJC report revealed that nearly half of all Americans said they had either never heard the term “antisemitism” (21%) or are familiar with the word but not sure what it means (25%).
“In the last few years we have seen a significant increase in hate crimes directed at individuals and institutions based on faith, with the biggest increase among these incidents having been those directed at Jews,” said Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. “We have always called on mayors to speak out against hate crimes when they occur, and the statement we are inviting mayors to sign today provides a way for them to register their opposition to the dramatic increase in antisemitism we have experienced in our country and work together to reverse it.”