November 10, 2022
Juju Chang: I’m so glad everyone broke so much ice there. I truly and sincerely believe, I tell Jonathan Greenblatt all the time, that the summoning power is a superpower and that’s why we’re here. But first, please welcome to the stage the Mayor of New York, the Honorable Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thanks a lot. I’m thrilled to join you all at the Anti-Defamation League’s Never is Now conference. And I know somewhere out there is my good friend Devorah Halberstam, who’s been talking about it for so many years. No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin or their background and religion, people have to learn to hate. Nelson Mandela wrote those words in his 1994 autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and he could have spoken about them today. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in America and, sadly, it has normalized. It has become common. It is fueled by misinformation and conspiracy theories and amplified by social media. And it is given a platform by celebrities, athletes, notable people and misguided former presidents and politicians. People learn to hate again. This month the FBI issued a statement that New Jersey synagogues were under threat and I want to thank FBI Director Christopher Wray who is here and the FBI for their commitment to protecting our Jewish community and all Americans.
We also saw anti-Semitic signs flying over a freeway in Los Angeles as people gave the Nazi salute and anti-Semitic messages were posted in public spaces in Jacksonville, Florida, including during a college football game. All of these incidents happened because anti-Semitic tropes and beliefs were promoted by famous people. Last year we recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents ever recorded in the United States. This is the uncomfortable truth about hate in our society. It normalizes and spreads from one community to another. Lies about COVID-19 have led to attacks on our Asian American brothers and sisters. Conspiracy theories about stolen elections led to the January 6 uprising and violence against politicians and their families. Holocaust denials and belief in replacement theory fuel gatherings of extremists like the one we saw in Charlottesville.
Anti-Semitism and extremism should not be ignored. We have to face it, we have to challenge it. I know the past few weeks have been tense for the Jewish community here and across the country. Many of you feel fear and anxiety no matter where you live. Let’s be clear, hate and anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in New York. No one should ever feel threatened while walking down the street or taking the subway. No one should ever feel threatened when entering their synagogue or place of worship. It’s personal to me. Over the years I have worked closely with the Jewish community and with many of you. I often say that New York is the Tel Aviv of America and we know the power, the influence, the love and the compassion of the Jewish community here. New York City is home to the largest Jewish community in the country.
And as mayor, I take that responsibility very seriously. Public safety is my administration’s top priority. I want you to know that we will continue to protect all communities with all necessary resources. We will prosecute hate crimes wherever possible and we need to reach our young people with anti-bias education so that we can tackle hate at its root causes. Above all, we will not remain silent. We will fight against this rise in anti-Semitism. The memories of those who perished in the Holocaust sustain us. The courage and resilience of our survivors inspire us to act. I want to thank Jonathan and the Anti-Defamation League for the work you do to fight against all forms of hate.
My mother once said, “If you find yourself in a dark place, you determine whether that dark place is a burial or a plantation. And while it may seem like we’re in a dark place right now, we can make this a planting time. Let us devote ourselves to defeating all forms of anti-Semitism. Let us rededicate ourselves to educating generations about the horrors of the past. Let’s dedicate ourselves to taking action when we see injustices happening. Together we can ensure that never is now. Thanks a lot.