June 12, 2020 — Washington, D.C.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) President Harriet Schleifer and Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer, presented today to members of Congress a six-point action plan addressing the pernicious legacy of racism in the United States. They addressed a roundtable hosted by the Black-Jewish Congressional Caucus entitled: “Where do we go from here? How the Black and Jewish Communities Can Collectively Dismantle Racism.”
“For generations, Blacks and Jews have marched together to demand equal justice. Today’s conversation takes us another mile in that long walk,” said Schleifer. “Together we will continue to press on, using the tools of our democracy to make America’s founding promise a reality. Together we will write what we hope is the last chapter in the story of America’s long confrontation with racism. AJC stands – and marches – as a willing partner in this noble effort.”
The AJC plan’s six points are:
- Support the George Floyd family’s call for a national taskforce to examine systemic inequities. Such a model should be implemented nationally and in local communities.
- Close the vast gaps in reporting on hate crimes across America. Currently, the FBI relies on voluntary submissions of hate crimes data from local and state law enforcement agencies. Inaccurate and incomplete reporting has stymied efforts to fully comprehend this social pathology and formulate responses. AJC has been a strong advocate for the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, also supported by the Caucus. On a related front, AJC urges final passage of legislation to make lynching a federal crime – at last.
- The difficult task of police reform must be tackled. While Americans rely on law enforcement to count and report hate crimes, AJC recognizes that too many injustices take place at the hands of police – a small but significant minority that stains the honor of the women and men in blue who serve communities across our country. Many of the reforms outlined in the Justice in Policing Act are a good start and hopefully will receive bipartisan endorsement. AJC will not support the wholesale defunding of police departments – institutions essential to the welfare and safety of the general public.
- While the notion of reparations excites controversy, a comprehensive effort to finally close the wound of historic racism is long overdue. Resources must be allocated to redress stubborn inequities and indignities. Education funded on the basis of local property taxes cannot meet the needs of struggling neighborhoods. Impoverished communities will require additional resources, creatively programmed. AJC backs the Caucus support of enhanced education on slavery and racism. This is vital for all Americans.
- Amidst a crucial election season, AJC is especially mindful of the importance of focusing increased attention on the ability of all citizens to have their say. One element of the current outcry over injustice and inequality is the threat to citizen enfranchisement. The basic right to vote can never be debated. The only debate should be over how best to ensure the enfranchisement of all Americans while safeguarding honest elections.
- A comprehensive examination of the violence motivated by white supremacist ideology is necessary. All U.S. public officials must consistently condemn white supremacist violence, and law enforcement agencies should receive enhanced, specialized training about white supremacist groups which pose a deadly and dangerous threat to the United States.
Read the full AJC statement to the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations.
The bipartisan Black-Jewish congressional caucus was launched on the stage of AJC’s 2019 Global Forum. Led by Representatives Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Will Hurd (R-TX) John Lewis (D-GA), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), the caucus currently counts more than 50 politicians from both communities, who have pledged to learn from each other and advocate for joint concerns.