American Jewish Committee and the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced on March 29, that more than 525 mayors across the United States, including six in Arizona, have joined their national effort to combat anti-Semitism.
The two organizations are calling on mayors across the country to sign a statement declaring that anti-Semitism is incompatible with fundamental democratic values.
“Anti-Semitism is a growing societal menace, it comes from multiple sources, and mayors are uniquely positioned to lead their cities in taking concerted steps to fight it,” said AJC CEO David Harris.
The statement, Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism, in part reads: “In a world of global communications, where anti-Semitic ideas spread rapidly, a concerted and principled response is required to raise awareness, to educate and to ensure decency prevails. As mayors and municipal leaders, we have a unique responsibility to speak out against the growing menace of anti-Semitism.”
The mayors of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, Mesa , Glendale and Tuscon have signed on.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who is Arizona’s third-ever Jewish mayor, said hate and violence is unacceptable.
“It is critical to combat hate, whenever and wherever it arises,” said Gallego. “It is why I am proud to join more than 500 mayors in signing this pledge, and in actively working to make our nation a place where every individual feels safe, and is treated with dignity and respect.”
Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega pointed out that as a man of color, it is especially important to him to sign the declaration. “I’m the only Latino ever elected here in Scottsdale,” he said, adding he shares the common experience of being targeted by prejudice and prejudicial actions.
“I’m stepping up to confront this danger to our community,” he said. “I believe government at the local level is the most effective, responsive and accountable.”
Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke said his signature signifies that “Chandler remains committed to being an inclusive, equitable and safe community for all.”
Mesa Mayor John Giles said he wants every Mesa resident to be treated with dignity and respect.
“It’s important to reject any form of discrimination and to stand against anti-Semitism. I was happy to join mayors across the nation, uniting in our support of the Jewish community and to promote awareness and mutual understanding in our cities," he said.
Representatives for the mayors of Glendale and Tuscon did not respond to a request for comment.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said his organization has always called on mayors to speak out against hate crimes.
“By signing this statement, more than 525 mayors registered their opposition to the dramatic increase in anti-Semitism we have experienced in our country and pledged to work together to reverse it,” he said.
As part of signing the pledge, the mayors agree to condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, including hatred and prejudice directed towards Jews; stereotypes or conspiracy theories about Jews; Holocaust denial or distortion; and anti-Israel animus that crosses a line to target Jews or deny the Jewish state’s right to exist.
Additionally, the mayors also will support national, state and local efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism; reject notions that Israel’s actions can justify or excuse anti-Semitic acts; and affirm that a climate of mutual understanding and respect among all citizens is the bedrock of pluralistic communities.
In 2019, the Conference of Mayors adopted a policy condemning the disturbing and increasing trend of violence towards individuals and institutions based on faith. That resolution specifically condemned “anti-Semitic acts and statements as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”
The AJC-USCM initiative comes as incidents of anti-Semitism, some of them violent, continue to rise across the United States, confirmed in FBI reports and AJC public-opinion surveys.
American Jews, who make up less than 2% of the U.S. population, were the victims of 60.2% of anti-religious hate crimes, according to the FBI 2019 Hate Crimes Statistics report.
AJC’s 2020 State of Antisemitism in America report found that 88% of Jews considered anti-Semitism a problem today in the United States, 35% had personally been victims of anti-Semitism over the past five years and 31% had taken measures to conceal their Jewishness in public. JN