By City Councilman Mike Driscoll
The victory of our first black lieutenant governor and a Jewish governor-elect over a man who refused to denounce his antisemitic and racist supporters does not mean that the rising antisemitism we see across the commonwealth and country can be ignored.
Today, it seems that many have forgotten or never been taught “never again.” Some do not know the atrocities that happen when we turn a blind eye to hatred. Over the 12 years between when Hitler was democratically elected and when Nazi Germany surrendered, over 6 million Eastern European Jewish people were exterminated in the Holocaust. This did not begin with a bang, but a smolder. His message of hate was used to vilify marginalized communities.
The attempted erasure of the Jewish people began with the boycotting of shops and the banning of books. Within years it devolved into the mass imprisonment and extermination of Jewish and other marginalized groups with the goal to leave one “pure” white race. We must never forget hatred and evil, when allowed to boil, can explode.
In 2021 the Anti-Defamation League reported 2,717 incidents of harassment, vandalism or violence targeting Jews. This is the highest since the ADL first began tracking these acts in 1979. According to Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, “We don’t see any meaningful decrease in 2022.” (AP, October 2022)
Now, barely four years removed from the Tree of Life attack that claimed the lives of 11 of our Jewish brethren, a man who used the same social media platform to recruit supporters as the Tree of Life attacker received over 2 million votes to become the governor of Pennsylvania. This does not mean everyone who voted for him has hate in their heart but failing to condemn antisemitism and those who fail to denounce it is unacceptable. In 2022, Pennsylvania did not allow the election of someone supported by those who hold hate in their hearts. This does not mean we can rest. We must be prepared to defend our Jewish brothers and sisters from this heinous rise of antisemitism.
As I will highlight in a resolution soon to be introduced in City Council, an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths.
We must acknowledge the condition that our nation is in. A condition where our friends, family and neighbors are being attacked because of their religion, because of their race and because of their sexual orientation.
We must stand together as the defenders against antisemitism, against racism, against homophobia, against hate. We must resist those who espouse hate or are supported by people and groups with hate in their hearts.
We must stand against those who seek to attack people different from themselves. Because all true members of the American nation know that our differences are what unites us. ••
Mike Driscoll, a Democrat, represents the 6th Council District. He was sworn in on June 10.