URGE MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL TO ADOPT RESOLUTION TO COMBAT ANTISEMITISM
The Montgomery County Council is currently considering a resolution that provides guidelines for, and commits our County to, combating the scourge of antisemitism. Working in coalition with the ADL and the AJC Washington regional offices, we must overwhelmingly pass this resolution to address the alarming rise of antisemitic incidents in Montgomery County. IT IS CRITICAL THAT COUNCILMEMBERS HEAR FROM JEWISH MOCO RESIDENTS AND THEIR ALLIES WHO SUPPORT THIS RESOLUTION.
Antisemitism has exploded across the United States. In 2021, ADL tabulated 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the US, a 34% increase over the previous year and the most since statistics have been tabulated.
60% of religious based hates crimes in the US are against Jews even though we are less than 2% of the population.
The recent Montgomery County annual police bias report said, “of the 34 incidents motivated by bias towards religion, 85.3% (29) were considered anti-Jewish, despite Jewish persons making up only 10% of the population.”
Increasingly in America, it can be dangerous to identify as Jewish. We have become the targets of deadly synagogue shootings, attacks, and hostage taking situations from Pittsburgh to Poway to Upstate New York and Texas. In our own backyard, swastikas and other antisemitic symbols have been found on buildings, trolley stations, and school property, and Jewish students report incidents of antisemitic bullying.
So, what is our county doing to address this issue?
Councilmember Andrew Friedson has introduced a resolution to address this worsening crisis, which uses the gold standard definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This resolution, unlike a law, is not legally binding. Rather, it utilizes the IHRA definition as an expression of communal values and an educational tool to fight antisemitism in our local community.
Since 2005, the IRHA definition has been used by and/or adopted by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the European Union, the Obama, Trump, and Biden Administrations and many other international private and public bodies. It is supported by the official bodies representing Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism.
So, what’s the problem?
Opponents of this resolution falsely claim that its passage would infringe upon free speech and prevent criticism of Israel. These concerns are unwarranted. By definition, a resolution is not legally binding. Furthermore, freedom of speech and political debate are constitutionally protected rights that can’t be impacted by a local resolution. Nevertheless, Councilmember Friedson is adding clarifying language to the resolution to address these concerns.
What can I do?
Email your councilmembers and urge them to support Councilmember Friedson’s resolution to combat antisemitism. Montgomery County should not be an outlier among city, county, and state governments that have adopted the IHRA definition. Our County Council must meet this moment with courage and conviction by unequivocally denouncing antisemitism through passage of this resolution.
IT IS CRITICAL THAT COUNCILMEMBERS HEAR FROM JEWISH MOCO RESIDENTS AND THEIR ALLIES WHO SUPPORT THIS RESOLUTION.