Princeton Council approves resolution condemning antisemitism

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In the wake of attacks on Jewish synagogues in several states and a threatened attack on a New Jersey synagogue in November 2022, the Princeton Council has adopted a resolution condemning antisemitism.

The resolution, crafted by the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, states that antisemitism is a “centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because of their Jewish identity.”

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Princeton Civil Rights Commission Chairman Howard Levy said the resolution grew out of a recommendation by Mayor Mark Freda, in response to the attacks on synagogues nationwide.

“Sadly, the situation has not improved and probably has become worse, in ways big and small. They say that antisemitism is a leading indicator of hate against other groups in society,” Levy said.

Harassment on the basis of actual or perceived Jewish ancestry, ethnicity, identity, affiliation or faith is a pervasive and disturbing problem in contemporary American society, the resolution states.

“Antisemitism fundamentally contradicts the values of our Princeton community. We are all harmed when any one member of the Princeton community is subjected to hate or discrimination on the basis of an actual or perceived part of their identity.”

Incidents of antisemitism have increased in recent years, the resolution states. Citing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics, it said there were 324 anti-Jewish hate crimes in the United States in 2021 and 683 anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2020. Those numbers may under-report the true number of hate crimes because of gaps in reporting.

“Jewish Americans make up just over two percent of the population of the United States, but hate crimes against them made up more than half of the religiously motivated hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2020 and 62 percent in 2019,” the resolution says.

It is racist to make sweeping negative generalizations about a given population, and that “what is true of racism in general is true of antisemitism in particular.”

“What is particular in classic antisemitism is the idea that Jews are linked to the forces of evil. This stands at the core of many anti-Jewish fantasies,” the resolution says.

Examples of such anti-Jewish fantasies range from Jews control the government, Jews own the banks, Jews control the media, and Jews act as a state-within-a-state, to allegations that Jews are responsible for spreading diseases such as COVID-19, according to the resolution.

The resolution also makes the distinction between criticizing the political actions of the State of Israel and being anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist. There are Princeton residents who criticize the Israeli government, but who themselves are not anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist.

“While criticism of the State of Israel is not anti-Semitic on its face, examples of anti-Semitic acts may include holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s conduct or treating Jews, simply because they are Jewish, as agents of Israel,” the resolution says.

Requiring people who are Jewish to publicly condemn Israel or Zionism, as well as assuming that non-Israeli Jews are necessarily more loyal to Israel than to their own countries are examples of anti-Semitic actions, the resolution states.

The Municipality of Princeton will ensure that information on antisemitism will be made available as educational resources for all local public agencies, institutions and organizations responsible for addressing antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.

The resolution further states, the town encourages local organizations, committees and commissions, such as the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, to hold community education programming to foster open and inclusive dialogue on antisemitism and to identify how the community can address anti-Semitic incidents.

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