Confronting Antisemitism: Tackling the Issue at the Municipal LevelNovember 15, 2023
Mayors and other local officials are battling rising antisemitism following the brutal Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel. The number of antisemitic incidents in the United States more than tripled in the month following Oct. 7. This statistic is sobering and galvanizing, and a holistic approach involving both federal and local community efforts is required. Local officials are on the frontlines, combatting antisemitism in schools, college campuses, residential areas, and restaurants. Incidents in Miami Beach, Manhattan, Columbus, Minneapolis, Studio City, Cambridge, and Thousand Oaks show the disturbing rise in antisemitism. A poll by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) revealed that 70% of Jewish respondents feel less safe than before Oct. 7. They also expressed security concerns about their communities. Local officials need to take strategic measures, including programming, education, and policing to combat antisemitism. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism should be adopted by cities. Appointing a liaison with the Jewish community, fostering interfaith dialogue, and training municipal staff and law enforcement are steps that must be taken. Municipalities should also use the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism as a framework for action. Local leaders need to consistently condemn antisemitism through public statements. It is the responsibility of municipalities to protect their Jewish communities and enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward antisemitism.