Two reports, both released on Feb. 13, show a national increase in both antisemitism and awareness of it in the Jewish and general communities.
In Oregon, those increases spurred the city of Ashland and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon to release proclamations condemning antisemitism (SEE BELOW). Locally, Community Security Director Jessica Anderson helps Jewish individuals, organizations and synagogues defend against and respond to antisemitism. You can read about the courses and resources she offers in the Feb. 1 Jewish Review at jewishportland.org/jewishreview/jr-stories/i-am-your-security-director-too.
The Anti-Defamation League study examined the effects of Kanye West’s antisemitic rants. The ADL found that West, who goes by Ye, had inspired at least 30 antisemitic incidents since October, when he vowed on Twitter to go “death con 3” on Jewish people. Read The Forward’s story on the report at tinyurl.com/mwtdjedb.
The second study, American Jewish Committee’s State of Antisemitism in America 2022
(tinyurl.com/2a88b5ha), details how antisemitism in America affects the lives and actions of Jews and compares those findings to how the American general public perceives the threat.
AJC’s report says that “antisemitism is affecting American Jews’ sense of security, particularly among young American Jews. 41% of U.S. Jews surveyed said the status of Jews in America is less secure than a year ago, up from 31% in 2021.”
It notes that antisemitism is impacting American Jews, especially online and on social media with 85% of American Jews ages 18-29 reporting they have seen or were the target of antisemitism online at least once in the past year.
AJC’s companion survey of the general public contains mixed findings. “Over nine in 10 U.S. adults (91%) said antisemitism is a problem for everyone and affects society as a whole. And yet, only 47% of U.S. adults surveyed said that antisemitism has increased over the last five years compared to 82% of American Jews.”
Ashland proclamation rejects antisemitism
The Ashland City Council passed a proclamation rejecting antisemitism at its Feb. 7, 2023, council meeting.
The city’s Social Equity and Racial Justice Advisory Committee had adopted the proclamation unanimously and referred it to the full council.
Emily Simon, who is both the co-chair of Ashland’s SERJC and chair of Temple Emek Shalom’s SERJC, testified at the meeting online. The rabbi, president and members of Temple Emek Shalom appeared at the meeting in person, though they did not testify, to support the proclamation. The proposal for the proclamation was motivated by the vandalism of the Chabad menorah in a Medford park twice during Chanukah.
The Ashland proclamation references the Holocaust as the most historic example of antisemitism and the current rise of hate crimes, of which 25% in Oregon and 34% nationally were antisemitic between 2019 and 2022.
The proclamation goes on to note “WHEREAS, hatred and bias in any form are not acceptable in our community. The City of Ashland remains committed to our vision of welcoming the world and recognizing our diversity as a key strength for the City and our character…”
And it concludes: “NOW, THEREFORE, The City Council of the City of Ashland, Oregon, on behalf of its citizens, and as supporters and allies of our Jewish community do hereby proclaim the City of Ashland’s condemnation of antisemitism. The City of Ashland strongly stands against hate, bias or violence based on identity and remains committed to the principles of nondiscrimination and human rights. In Ashland we are Better Together.”
Simon testified it has become common for municipalities and other government bodies to adopt antisemitism proclamations in the face of rising antisemitism worldwide.
Following Ashland’s adoption of the proclamation, the city and synagogue SERJCs have reached out to the Ashland’s Oregon Senator Jeff Golden to encourage the state to adopt a similar proclamation. Simon also encourages other Jewish communities around the state to encourage similar proclamations locally.
“This is a concrete step that communities can take in the face of rising antisemitism,” she says. “They can develop a statement that fits their community.”
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon Statement on Antisemitism
Antisemitism has no place in Oregon. Hate has no place in Oregon. We are a community that values diversity and stands united with our Jewish brothers and sisters. We have witnessed this rise in antisemitic attacks worldwide. We cannot be passive or silent as these attacks happen in our community or anywhere. In Oregon, a man charged with arson and bias crimes in Multnomah County for vandalizing two Jewish synagogues and setting fire to a mosque is now facing federal hate crime charges. The Anti-Defamation League reports a significant rise in threats, crimes and other hateful acts – Jewish businesses vandalized, synagogues graffitied, individuals assaulted and accosted. These evil acts, just as much as those attacks on our Muslim brothers and sisters, that are embraced by extremists and ignorant political rhetoric must be called out. As we recently celebrated the struggle, dream and legacy of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are reminded of his words about our force to confront evil: “The whole history of life is the history of a struggle between good and evil. Evil is ultimately doomed by the powerful, insurgent forces of good.” It is incumbent upon us to stand up for all God’s children without discrimination, regardless of religious belief. It is our responsibility to confront evil.
The Rev. Dr. Rodney Page, EMO Executive Director Emeritus
Jan Musgrove Elfers, former Executive Director/President
Frank J. So, current EMO President
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is a longstanding interfaith partner of the Jewish Community Relations Council. EMO is a statewide association of faith partners working together to improve the lives of Oregonians through direct service programs, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and public policy advocacy. EMO remains committed to the humanity in every person and working toward a more inclusive and accepting world for everyone. EMO is the oldest and largest organization of its kind in the nation. It represents a network of 15 Christian denominations and more than 80 faith communities who stand for justice and equality.