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The recent surge in violent attacks against members of the Jewish community is a shameful reminder that centuries of antisemitism continue to poison our nation and our world. Antisemitic violence has been on the rise globally for several years, but since the latest outbreak of conflict in Israel and Palestine, hundreds of incidents have been reported across the United States. 

Like the wave of hate crimes against Asian Americans that followed a rush of anti-China rhetoric, the torrent of assaults on Jewish Americans arises in the wake of widespread criticisms of the Israeli government. No matter one’s views on Israel’s conduct of the war with Hamas or its treatment of Palestinians, antisemitic rhetoric and harassment, intimidation, and abuse against Jewish people is abhorrent and unacceptable.  

As Quakers, we have both a long history of working for peace and justice in the Middle East and a deep moral commitment to nonviolence. We see “that of God” in all people and act in solidarity with those who have been marginalized, excluded, mistreated, and deprived of human dignity. Our belief that all creation has equal worth and dignity has led us to support protections for the human rights of all Palestinians and Israelis, and to reject systems of oppression and discrimination that result from occupation.  

We call on all members of our network and other people of faith to unequivocally condemn these disturbing antisemitic attacks.

But opposition to policies of the Israeli government is not the same as, and must not be converted into, bigotry and rancor against Jewish people. We must stand with both Israelis and Palestinians in the region working in coalition to end the occupation of Palestine and build a just and peaceful future.

We must acknowledge the right of all Americans to conduct legitimate foreign policy analysis and debate that neither advances antisemitic tropes nor dehumanizes those who disagree with them.

Each one of us has a responsibility to speak out against acts that threaten Jewish individuals and families, businesses, neighborhoods, community centers, and places of worship. Each of us must stand with and for people who have been harmed. 

Unfortunately, this has not always been the case, as criticism of Israeli policy in the Quaker and other faith communities has at times contributed to discrimination against Jewish people. Further education and commitment are required to recognize how our conversations can and do perpetuate antisemitic stereotypes.

Throughout history, Jews have endured enslavement, persecution, scapegoating, ethnic cleansing, expulsion, and genocide. But these most egregious and visible forms of violence were made possible by the normalization of hatred and prejudice.  

Antisemitic incidents have risen exponentially in recent years, including in the Charlottesville, VA rally, where attendees chanted “Jews will not replace us” and the mass shooting in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. During the Jan. 6 Capitol riot,  some insurrectionists were seen wearing the slogan “6MWE,” (“6 million wasn’t enough”), referring to the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.  

The recent spate of beatings, vandalism, verbal abuse, online hate, and other forms of intimidation against all members of the Jewish community is despicable. Like all forms of white supremacy, extremism and hate, antisemitism divides and diminishes us as a nation. This must stop. It is wrong and harmful.

We call on all members of our network and other people of faith to unequivocally condemn these disturbing antisemitic attacks.

Diane Randall

Diane Randall

General Secretary (2011-2021)
Diane Randall served as the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation from 2011-2021. She was the fourth General Secretary and first woman to hold the position.