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On Tuesday, Senior Director of JCRC Marcy Paul and I traveled to Columbus for an Ohio Jewish Communities (OJC) meeting at the Governor’s residence. Over 35 people – including Federation, JCRC, and OJC professionals and lay leaders – came together with Governor Mike DeWine, Director of Faith Based and Community Initiatives Michele Reynolds, and Ohio Department of Public Safety Assistant Director Karen Huey to discuss the surge in antisemitism.

Even though the attendees were collegial, we were quickly reminded that this was, in fact, a solemn meeting as we were talking about something quite serious and potentially nefarious.

As the meeting took place, Governor Mike DeWine made a very interesting comment. He said that as Governor, he feels he will not be able to accomplish all his goals. However, it is imperative to set the tone so these important discussions happen not only now, but into the future.

I felt this was a critical and profound statement. The reality is antisemitism can’t be fixed during one political term. It has long affected Jewish communities across the globe. No matter who is in office, it is crucial these issues plaguing the Jewish community stay at the forefront. And thanks to OJC, who serves as a powerhouse of advocacy for the Jewish people across the state, our voices are collectively heard.

There were three key points discussed at the meeting:

  1. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance “working definition” of antisemitism.
  2. Antisemitism on college campuses.
  3. Community safety and security gaps.

The “working definition” of antisemitism has been used by the US State Department since 2010. In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a non-legally binding working definition. Although they are very similar, the US now uses the latter definition. The adopted definition states, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions, and religious facilities.” In 2019, an executive order was issued requiring the US Department of Education to use this definition in investigating civil rights complaints. OJC requested the Governor support the use of this definition.

We next talked about antisemitism on college campuses. Reports of antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents are skyrocketing. Students, faculty, and staff are being targeted. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), reports of antisemitism on campuses have tripled between 2012-2019. Federal data has religious-based hate crimes on college campuses almost doubling between 2009-2017, with the majority of those crimes targeting Jews. After discussing the serious threats many Jewish students face on a daily basis, OJC requested that the governor continue to make the topic of antisemitism on college campuses a priority. Our hope is through discussions with university top officials, students of all affiliations can feel safe and secure.

The third item discussed – community safety and security gaps – highlighted the need for security not only at Jewish institutions, but within public spaces as well. What local law enforcement needs is the ability to utilize artificial intelligence to help keep the Jewish community protected, including increased police presence when a situation does occur. The state will open applications soon for another round of security grants. We will keep you updated as information is released.

I am so incredibly thankful we have OJC in our corner. You can read more about this critical organization by clicking here.

For a more in-depth understanding of the issues facing students on college campuses, join us on Tuesday, August 10th at 7pm for “Community Conversation: Antisemitism on College Campuses: Student Voices, Parent Concerns, Hillel Response.” Click here for more information and to register.

 

 

 

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