90 Holocaust institutions, 70 scholars decry rise in intolerance and hate speech

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Ninety U.S. Holocaust institutions, and more than 70 individual scholars and educators have decried the rise in intolerance and hate speech.

The institutions and individuals in a statement issued on Tuesday also called on U.S. lawmakers to condemn white nationalist groups and asked citizens to be vigilant.

“Recent months have seen a surge in unabashed racism and hate speech – including blatant anti-Semitism and attacks on Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, women, the LGBTQ community, as well as other targeted groups.  Journalists have been threatened.  Places of worship, schools and playgrounds have been defaced with Nazi symbols intended to intimidate and arouse fear.  White supremacist groups have become self-congratulatory and emboldened,” reads the statement.

“As Holocaust scholars, educators and institutions, we are alarmed by these trends.  History teaches us that intolerance, unchecked, leads to persecution and violence.  We denounce racism and the politics of fear that fuels it.  We stand in solidarity with all vulnerable groups.  We take Elie Wiesel’s words to heart: ‘I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation’,” the statement continues.

“Therefore, we call upon all elected officials as well as all civic and religious leaders to forcefully and explicitly condemn the rise in hate speech and any attacks on our democratic principles.  We call upon all media and social media platforms to refuse to provide a stage for hate groups and thus normalize their agenda.  And we call upon all people of good conscience to be vigilant, to not be afraid, and to speak out,” it concludes.

The statement was co-authored by members of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, a network dedicated to the advancement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research.

There has been a spike in anti-Semitic incidents following the U.S. presidential election, including acts of vandalism featuring swastikas and Trump-related themes left in public areas as well as on the homes of Jewish individuals.

Last week, the watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center said it had received reports of 100 anti-Semitic incidents occurring in the 10 days following the presidential election, representing about 12 percent of hate incidents reported to the group in the United States.

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