Israel and Jewish communities condemn neo-Nazi violence, warn of dangers of hate speech

The Israeli government and Jewish organizations around the world this week condemned the violent neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville, which left one dead and dozens injured, with some Jewish leaders warning their communities to remain vigilant in the face of rising far-right demonstration.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday that Israel stands with the American Jewish community amd called the display of Nazi flags by white supremacists there “beyond belief.”

“The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag — perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism — paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally, is almost beyond belief,” the president said in a letter addressed to Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“We have seen manifestations of anti-Semitism again and again arise across the world; in Europe and the Middle East. In the face of such evil, we stand now as we did then. With faith. With faith in humanity, with faith in democracy, and with faith in justice,” he added.

“I know that the great nation of the United States of America and its leaders will know how to face this difficult challenge, and prove to the world the robustness and strength of democracy and freedom.”

The president of the Brazilian Jewish community has warned Jews and other minorities to stay on alert of demonstration of hate.

Fernando Lottenberg, president of the Jewish Confederation of Brazil and a WJC president, said:

"The neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville show how we should always be attentive and active against hate speech and its propagation. Explicit manifestations against Jews and other minorities in the 21st century cannot be treated with indifference or condescension. It was words and deeds like these that ultimately caused the greatest tragedies in history.”

The British Board of Jewish Deputies also condemned the violence, saying in a statement that stands in solidarity with American Jewish organisations and others taking a stand against the racist “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Board of Deputies Senior Vice President Richard Verber said: “How can it be that in twenty-first century America, you have extremists openly chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans, and mowing down peaceful protesters in car-ramming attacks of the sort we have seen recently in London? We express our solidarity with the victims of violence and echo the calls of our American counterparts for unequivocal condemnation of this violence.”

The Australian Jewish community likewise condemned the violence.

"The events in Charlottesville are a vivid reminder that hate speech is often a precursor to violent behaviour and hate crimes,” said Anton Block, the President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and a WJC vice president. “If we truly value freedom and democracy, we need to stand firm not only against racist violence but also against the hate speech which precedes it. Hate speech has nothing to do with free speech or the robust interchange of competing ideas."

Ronald S. Lauder: Racist rhetoric and violence have no place in our society

 World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder underscored Monday that the racist rhetoric and violence that unfolded in Charlottesville over the weekend have “no place, whatsoever, in our society”, adding that he hopes that “groups of all faiths and backgrounds can work together to foster an environment of tolerance."
“Like all Americans, I was appalled, repulsed, and sickened as I watched the events unfold in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. This type of rhetoric and violence has no place, whatsoever, in our society," Lauder said. “This afternoon, I was pleased to hear President Trump classify the events exactly as they were – racist and bigoted – and to specifically denounce the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists. These groups do not represent America, nor the freedoms that too many generations before us gave their lives fighting for."

"As President Trump said, ‘we are created equal in the eyes of our Creator,’ and I hope that groups of all faiths and backgrounds can work together to foster an environment of tolerance to ensure the events of this weekend are never repeated," Lauder added. "The World Jewish Congress is at the forefront of the fight for tolerance across the world every single day, and the despicable actions of a few will not stop us.”

Lauder on Saturday harshly condemned the violent Neo-Nazi demonstrations that left dozens wounded and one dead.

“The World Jewish Congress unequivocally condemns the inconceivable violence exhibited at the neo-Nazi demonstration today in Charlottesville. Our prayers are with the victims of this violence and their families. It is utterly distressing and repugnant that such hatred and bigotry still run rampant in parts of this country. There is no place in our democratic society for such violence and intolerance. We must be vigilant and united in our opposition to such abhorrence," he said. “We commend the Charlottesville authorities and local government for their quick action in quelling these protests and restoring calm, and sincerely hope that this will serve as a deterrent for future demonstrations of violence.".

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