Hate crimes in the United States are at their highest level in over a decade, and although Jews make up less than 2% of the population, they were involved in more than 60% of 2019 religious hate crimes.
Attorney General Dave Yost of Ohio and Letitia James of New York held a bipartisan conversation about how states are fighting religious hate crimes and improving overall hate crime reporting. The virtual event took place on November 23rd and was moderated by Melanie Pell, AJC Managing Director of the regional offices
According to its website, AJC is the world’s leading Jewish advocacy group with unparalleled access to government officials, diplomats, and other world leaders. Through these relationships and an international presence, AJC can influence opinion and politics on the most important issues: fighting the rise of anti-Semitism and extremism, defending Israel’s place in the world and upholding the rights and freedoms of all people.
“The discussion takes place at a critical point in our history. We are struggling with this pandemic and the systemic inequalities and inequalities, ”said James. “Americans are unfortunately more divided than they have been for some time, and most people are victims of biased acts of hatred. The surge in anti-Semetic hate crimes is a matter of serious concern for all those who care for one another, to realize that we are all inextricably linked. “
James noted that this prejudice even affects aspects of mainstream politics and the internet. She said it was reminiscent of times gone by.
“We cannot allow these actions to be the new normal,” said James. “Freedom of speech must never be confused with freedom to incite violence and hatred, and we are facing a time when intolerance is more common than acceptance and love. Unfortunately, hatred has become louder than love. “
She said citizens have to live up to expectations of inclusion and compassion and tenants to live up to their beliefs.
Yost agreed with James that there are more things that unite than citizens separate.
“You and I share a similar worldview when it comes to hatred and the crimes that all too often follow,” Yost said. He just wanted to add one point: “It’s ironic, I think we’re seeing an increase in hate crimes at this time, right now, and the reason I say it’s ironic is: We never had one responding more immediately to everything from racial slur to actual criminal acts committed with malice because of someone’s identity. However, the times we live in are becoming less and less tolerant, and that’s the irony. “
Yost said the cure for bad language is to use more language to point it out, “However, what we have seen is often a jerky response to just trying to prevent people from speaking.”
What is needed? Tolerance, inclusion, and individual judgment of people, not groups, said Yost.
“The idea of judging groups rather than individual actions is detrimental in my opinion and actually reduces our ability to effectively combat hatred,” said Yost.
He added that both he and James share an obligation to use their offices “and the microphones they each temporarily own” to push back, tell the truth and stand up for love.
The hour-long event was part of Advocacy Anywhere, a new platform that enables individuals to virtually engage with AJC’s expertise, content and advocacy opportunities. To see the discussion, visit bit.ly/36y04Ri.