Above: Gottheimer speaks at today’s unity event, bringing together local officials, the NAACP, first responders, and North Jersey faith leaders.
Today, Tuesday, January 7, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), local elected officials, the NAACP of Bergen County, first responders, and faith leaders from across North Jersey united together against anti-Semitism and hate in our communities.
“We are all here today because New Jersey is a no hate state. We may have our ups and downs, as has been the case since the beginning of time, but let me be clear to those who peddle in it: Hate is not – and will never be – welcome here. Today, as we face new tensions, in a world where hate is fueled by social media and cable news, we cannot allow discrimination and anti-Semitism to seep into our own ranks – between those of us committed to justice and equality,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Bill and I must keep doing our job in Washington — fighting for hate crime legislation, for the Voting Rights Act, for more accountability in our voting systems overall, for more resources to protect our religious schools and houses of worship, to stand by our veterans and first responders, and further our fight against terror.”
Today’s gathering of community and religious leaders comes in response to the spike in anti-Semitic incidents and attacks in New Jersey and the surrounding area in recent months. In recent weeks, a deadly attack occurred at a kosher grocery in Jersey City, a Hanukkah gathering at a rabbi’s home was attacked in Rockland County, NY, and other anti-Semitic incidents occurred throughout the region.
The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) most recent annual report on anti-Semitic incidents stated that physical assaults on Jewish individuals had increased 105 percent over the previous year. The ADL has also ranked New Jersey third highest in the country for anti-Semitic acts.
White supremacist propaganda is spreading on American college campuses, with more cases of promoting extremism and hate in Spring 2019 than any semester before it. Additionally, according to the FBI, the U.S. is amid a five-year upward trend in reported hate crimes — affecting people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender, and disability.
Gottheimer works closely with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and Fifth District faith leaders to claw back more resources from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps protect synagogues, yeshivas, Jewish Community Centers, and houses of worship from increasing threats of terror and acts of hate. The Fifth District has clawed back more than $2.9 million from Washington through the Program since 2016.
Gottheimer has voted several times this Congress to reaffirm our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. Gottheimer has cosponsored the Never Again Education Act, bipartisan legislation to help fund programs to teach children about the Holocaust in our schools, as well as the Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act, which would authorize investment in the Nonprofit Security Grant Program at $75 million annually. Gottheimer is also a cosponsor of the bipartisan National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act, or NO HATE Act, to strengthen federal laws that combat hate speech, threats, and attacks and improve national hate crime reporting.
Speaking today alongside Gottheimer were Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse, Jr.; Congressman Bill Pascrell; Assemblyman Gary Schaer; Assemblywoman Lisa Swain; Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle; Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton; Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Zur; First Vice President of the Bergen County NAACP Nathaniel Briggs; Rabbi David Fine, the President of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis; Imam Mohammad Charaf of the El Zahra Islamic Center of Midland Park; Reverend Marilyn Monroe Harris of First Baptist Church of Teaneck; Pete Stilianessis, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers Association; and Ed Donnelly, President of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA). Rabbi Mendy Kaminker gave the opening invocation.
Below: Gottheimer stands united with community leaders, first responders, and faith leaders against anti-Semitism, hate, and discrimination.
Watch remarks from today’s unity event HERE.
Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
I’m incredibly proud to be standing here with my dear friend and colleague, Bill Pascrell. We are all here today because New Jersey is a no hate state. We may have our ups and downs, as has been the case since the beginning of time, but let me be clear to those who peddle in it: Hate is not – and will never be – welcome here.
The great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wisely noted that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
I say that because I’m here today full of hope, not despair. Hope that if we stand together, we can knock down the wave of anger that is engulfing far too many of our communities, both here in New Jersey and around the country — the countless acts of racism and discrimination, of xenophobia, of Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.
Yes, I remain as hopeful as ever that we can get there. And while it won’t happen overnight, I know that the only chance that we will reach the promised land, is if we work with one another, not against one another. I think back 110 years to when the NAACP was founded, in reaction to the Springfield riots. You look at who came together — it was the African-American community and the Jewish-American community, who locked arms in common purpose.
Today, as we face new tensions, in a world where hate is fueled by social media and cable news, we cannot allow discrimination and anti-Semitism to seep into our own ranks – between those of us committed to justice and equality. If we do, then we are just as bad as the haters are. That’s why, together, we must call it out, and stand up to hate, whenever and wherever we see it. And we must rekindle that band of cooperation, with our eyes on the prize.
Others may want us to fight one another – instead of uniting together against evil. In fact, the haters are wishing for us to turn on one another. Because if we are divided, there will never be real progress. We can’t let them win. As it’s said in Proverbs: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
Only if we fight together, with love, in one common purpose, do we have a shot at beating back the massive increase in white nationalism, racism and Islamophobia, and in turning the tide on the brutal surge in anti-Semitism. And it’s a surge — anti-Semitic physical assaults were up more than one-hundred percent last year, according to the ADL, with New Jersey being the third highest in the country for anti-Semitic acts. Just miles from here, we’ve had incidents on town councils and in local organizations, and we’ve seen swastikas in middle school bathrooms and on campaign signs.
White supremacist propaganda is spreading on American college campuses, with more cases of promoting extremism and hate in Spring 2019 than any semester before it.
And right now, according to the FBI, we are amid a five-year upward trend in reported hate crimes throughout the United States — affecting people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender, and disability. This spike is marked especially by hate-fueled tragedies that occurred at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and, of course, the bloodshed in Jersey City and Monsey — the tenth such anti-Semitic attack in a short period, and so many other attacks.
Yet, I’m hopeful, because we are surrounded by good people – who remember that kindness and civility must be at our core – that we must love our neighbor as yourself. And because we are committed to educating our children about the history — about right and wrong. We also understand that the reason we live in the greatest country in the world, is because we know our diversity is our greatest strength. Our diversity lies in our ideas and perspectives, our religious and cultural views, and our economic success. Every aspect of why we are who we are as a country.
The best way that I see for all of us to keep building and perfecting our Union, and make it even more perfect, is to remember that.
Now, we all know this isn’t easy. Democracy takes hard work. It requires debate and civil difference of opinion. It takes mutual respect. It takes men and women protecting us at home and abroad, like the brave firefighters, law enforcement, and veterans here today. And we are grateful to them, especially now as we pray for those in harm’s way in the Middle East.
Bill and I must keep doing our job in Washington — fighting for hate crime legislation, for the Voting Rights Act, for more accountability in our voting systems overall, for more resources to protect our religious schools and houses of worship, and to stand by our veterans and first responders, and further our fight against terror.
With all of you beside us, I’m hopeful that we can get there. We just have to remember that above everything else, ahead of political affiliation, Democrat or Republican, or the synagogue, mosque, or church we belong to, we are Americans – and we are one people. E pluribus unum.
As was the case in Selma, where Rabbi Heschel stood next to Dr. King, all of our communities must fight together against hate. That’s also what happened in 1961, when eight Protestant ministers and a Rabbi from Paterson, New Jersey, Martin Freedman, led the first interfaith clergy Freedom Ride — we must stand together and fight together.
And here today in North Jersey, an interfaith group — Rabbis, Imams, Reverends, and community leaders — we are together again, as people have done before, to fight hate in our community.
In a church, just down the road from here, a dear friend of ours, the great John Lewis, evoked Dr. King when he said, “We must not give up, we must not give in.” Today, and in the days ahead, let’s redouble our commitment to that calling – to overcoming hate in all forms. Let’s not give up, let’s not give in, let’s maintain hope, here in the greatest country in the world, where our best days will always be ahead of us. Thank you and may God bless you.