November 2, 2018 — Atlanta, GA
as printed in the Atlanta Business Chronicle
By Dov Wilker, Regional Director, American Jewish Committee
Anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred. On Saturday, October 27, we were again reminded of the horrors this hatred brings.
Unfortunately, hatred in our society is not confined to the Jewish community. Last week, two African Americans were killed in Kentucky just because they were black. And while Atlanta and Georgia have been spared recently, we have our own history to contend with: Leo Frank in 1913, The Temple Bombing in 1958, countless lynchings and church burnings, all because of race and religion.
Now, just as then, the business community’s leadership is more important than ever in helping to create unity. We cannot rely on one sector alone. It requires a multifaceted approach.
On Tuesday night, American Jewish Committee (AJC) presented its National Human Relations Award—which recognizes Atlanta leaders who demonstrate a commitment to leadership values, diversity, inclusion, and pluralism—to David Abney, CEO of UPS.
In the award’s 44-year history, the values it celebrates have never been timelier. I took the opportunity to thank each business leader for their attendance and reminded all to seek out chances to demonstrate and model their best leadership practices.
The event brought together many of our community’s most respected corporate citizens. Each was there to support and facilitate understanding among Atlantans. And the Jewish community noticed. During this difficult time, their presence was palpable and appreciated.
70 years ago, the idea of different faiths, ethnicities and nationalities joined together to celebrate the importance of human relations would be unimaginable. The evening spoke to hope for our city, for our region and for our country.
Atlanta’s business leaders have daily access to platforms and seats at the table that enable each opportunity to be critical role models in shaping society’s direction. The boycott of Davos in the Desert in response to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi is a recent example of a noteworthy opportunity to model leadership. Each empty seat represented a loud and clear message from high-ranking business executives as to the importance of free speech. We need more such voices; a business community that unites us and promotes progress.
As residents of the “city too busy to hate,” we know that we don’t want to remain quiet. We need to continue to show the world how unity is possible, by standing together.
In March 2017, I wrote about how “Anti-Semitism is Bad for Business.” At that time there were daily bomb threats to Jewish institutions. That August, following the events in Charlottesville, I reminded you, Atlanta’s business leadership, to “Never Forget. Never Again.”
We know, that we cannot rely solely on the old alliances. We need to seek out new opportunities and innovative approaches to build bridges, while simultaneously encouraging people-to-people, face-to-face relationship-building. Dinners of Dialogue and Civic Dinners are great, but are limited in scope. We need to inspire out of the box and creative thinking to ensure our city’s business culture provides a welcome place for the expression of diverse cultures and opinions.
Atlanta, a city where faith plays an important role, needs to strengthen the positive influence of our religious institutions. AJC is taking the opportunity to call all Jewish communities across the country—along with elected officials, religious and civic leaders, and other communal allies—to flock to synagogues this coming Shabbat, Friday and Saturday, November 2-3, for #ShowUpForShabbat. Our goal is to open our arms and places of worship in celebration of the Sabbath to underscore that we are united. All are welcome to worship with us, according to their personal preference.
Our city’s growth and business development unequivocally depend on it.