May 27, 2021
Emilio Varanini, President; Betty Williams, Chair; Ona Alston Dosunmu, CEO and Executive Director
One of the oldest, most pernicious and persistent forms of prejudice is anti-Semitism, which has increased exponentially in recent history. The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Community, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Orthodox Union have all sounded the alarm regarding heightened anti-Semitic violence.
This increase is happening from coast-to-coast. According to The New York Times, of 421 hate crimes reported in New York City in 2019, more than half were directed at Jews, according to police crime data. In Crown Heights, a section of Brooklyn, a Jewish man in his 60s was hit in the face with a brick, breaking his nose and knocking out his teeth. Some athletes and popular entertainers have engaged in anti-Semitic and hateful rhetoric. Meanwhile, a rise in anti-Semitic violence in Los Angeles prompted Mayor Eric Garcetti to say, “Los Angeles stands against antisemitism. We stand against the ideas that Jews should be singled out and attacked because of who they are. It mirrors what we have done too many times together, when we have stood up against Islamophobia or racism.”
Individuals in our society cannot enjoy fairness or justice if they are targeted for violence and unable to conduct their daily lives based on their religion or ethnicity. Core to CLA’s mission is the promotion of fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. Accordingly, we are called as a legal community to add our voices to those denouncing the recent increase in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic hate crimes.
We condemn anti-Semitism, but condemnation is not enough. We challenge our entire membership and the entire bar in the state to interrupt bias of any sort when we encounter it. In simpler terms: we must speak up and step up for justice.