August 16, 2021 — New York
Mayors and staff from more than 100 cities across the United States participated today in a training session led by American Jewish Committee (AJC) on combating antisemitism in their communities. The one-hour virtual session was organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), which has partnered with AJC.
In January, AJC and USCM jointly called on mayors and municipal leaders across the country to sign a statement declaring that antisemitism is not only an attack on Jews, but an assault on the core values of any democratic and pluralistic society. More than 690 to date have signed the Mayors United Against Antisemitism statement. The full list is available here.
Mayors and key staff participating in today’s training gained a deeper understanding of the range of antisemitic conspiracies, tropes, and symbols; the multiple sources of antisemitism emanating from the right, left and religious extremists; and concrete steps that can be taken on the local level to protect Jews and promote pluralism.
Melanie Maron Pell, AJC Chief Field Operations Officer; Holly Huffnagle, AJC U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism; and Rebecca Klein, AJC Director of National Outreach, led the session. They were joined by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, chair of the Conference’s Mayors and Business Leaders Center for Compassionate and Equitable Cities, and USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran.
During the session, Huffnagle presented groundbreaking AJC resources, including the State of Antisemitism in America in 2020 report and Translate Hate. Klein shared concrete ways to address antisemitic rhetoric and events in local communities.
AJC’s report, released last October and based on parallel surveys of the American Jewish and general populations, revealed that 88% of Jews consider antisemitism a problem in the U.S., 37% had been victims of antisemitism over the past five years and 31% had taken measures to conceal their Jewishness in public.
In the first-ever survey of the general U.S. population on antisemitism, AJC found a stunning lack of awareness of antisemitism. 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%).
Recent events have heightened the urgency in addressing antisemitism. The conflict between Israel and Hamas in May led to a surge in attacks against Jews in the U.S. and around the world. Antisemitic incidents spiked 80% in the U.S. during the 11-day conflict, compared to the previous month, and incidents, some violent, are continuing to occur in major American cities.
Translate Hate is AJC’s innovative digital resource aimed at enabling Americans of all backgrounds to recognize and expose antisemitic language and images and take action against hate speech. Its glossary of commonly used antisemitic terms and tropes will help further the work of mayors in identifying and responding to incidents. During the session, AJC provided mayors with these resources and a new toolkit for mayors to best fight antisemitism in their communities.
For more than 115 years, AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, has raised awareness about defining antisemitism; identifying hate incidents targeting Jews; and providing guidance to national, state and local authorities on bringing to justice perpetrators of hate crimes.
AJC has conducted similar training sessions for key federal, state and local officials, including the FBI and National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).