Society for Humanistic Judaism calls for increased government action against hate crimes

Humanism is a philosophy of life that emphasizes the importance of human power and human achievement. Thus, humanists believe the chief power for dealing with human problems is human power.

To this end the Ethical Concerns Committee of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, a committee of the umbrella organization of secular humanistic communities in North America, recently acted to address the rise of hate crimes, bombastic racial and ethnic orotundity, and public demonstrations that have recently been the center of public attention.

A resolution released February 22, 2017, states as follows:

“The Society for Humanistic Judaism condemns the rising hate crimes and malicious rhetoric, which have plagued the United States since the 2016 presidential election, against immigrants, Muslims, Jews and other minority groups. Whether it is the burning of mosques, bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers, vandalism to places of worship, children chanting “build that wall” to taunt their peers, Islamophobia, the elevation of white nationalism, or anti-immigrant sentiment and policies, the president as the leader of the nation must not only regularly and forcefully decry all hate crimes and rhetoric but also identify ways for this administration to actively counter hate crimes.

Remaining inactive against the rise in hate, whether from the far-left or far-right, is dangerous to the fundamental values that we as Secular Humanistic Jews hold dear. It was unacceptable – and we fear purposely provocative – to issue a White House statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention the Jewish people. Jews were targeted for extermination to a degree that was epic in its scope, horror and inhumanity, and to which the word “Holocaust” was specifically applied as a translation of “Shoah,” the Hebrew word for the Nazi genocide of the Jews. It was especially abhorrent when journalists merely ask whether the nation’s leader will condemn the rise in anti-Semitism and the response was to ridicule the journalist, ignore or deflect the question, and/or respond that he personally is not anti-Semitic rather than using the opportunity to educate our citizens.

One statement against anti-Semitism after an unprecedented fourth round of multiple bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers nationwide will not erase over a year of demonizing minority populations for the U.S.’s perceived woes. Now that the campaign is over, we call on this administration to end the scapegoating of minorities and acknowledge that what “makes America great” is not based on any person’s religion, color, or nation of origin. Hate must never be a political tool in a democracy. Democracies thrive on empathy, honesty, evidence and knowledge. Accordingly, the Society for Humanistic Judaism joins other Jewish groups in urging the president to continually and aggressively condemn the rising growth of hate that is flourishing under his administration, and implement actions and policies to reverse the trend.”

Today this statement could be augmented to include a more forthright declaration regarding the demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. Along these same lines it would seem the president deserves the crticism he has received from many fronts for not dealing more honesty and forthrightly in condemnation of neo-Nazi and white supremacist demonstrators who have been emboldened by political speech-making during the presidential campaign and at subsequent political rallies.

Humanistic Judaism, one of the five denominations of Judaism, combines the Jewish values of loving-kindness (Gemilut Chassadim), charity (Tzedakah), and making the world a better place (Tikkun Olam), with the recognition that the responsibility for putting them in practice lies in human hands. The Humanistic Jewish Havurah of Southwest Florida is an affiliate of Society for Humanistic Judaism.