Monday, February 24, 2020

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There were two items in last week’s JLNJ (December 26, 2019) related to a pending Highland Park Borough Council anti-Semitism, anti-BDS resolution, that give me cause for concern.

The first item was the report of Assemblyman Gary Schaer’s discussion at the Orthodox forum in our area on December 21 (“Assemblyman Gary Schaer Discusses ‘An Unorthodox Profession’ in Edison,” December 26, 2019) describing what it’s like to be an Orthodox Jewish politician. The article goes on to state:

“In a question and answer period an audience member asked him if he was aware of the contention regarding a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism and BDS... He replied that he was aware of it and asked: Why are we doing this? What are we trying to achieve?... I think it is overreach, and we need to do more outreach.”

The second item was the letter by the two Highland Park Borough Council members, Josh Fine and Matt Hale, “Fighting Back Against Anti-Semitism” (December 26, 2019) who eloquently described the damage caused to Jews by anti-Semitism and BDS, which is itself universally acknowledged to be just another form of anti-Semitism. They condemn these activities, and also call for greater educational programming. They do not mention the resolution itself.

My concern is that with the explosion of violence against Jews worldwide and also very close to home, I think a much stronger response is needed from the Jewish community, especially our own legislators, than just more programming and education. While these are certainly important, I feel that, by analogy, if your neighbor’s house is on fire and the flames are coming your way, much more action is needed than to hold more fire prevention programs.

The Highland Park Borough Council resolution, while only symbolic, would put the borough administration on record as supporting its local Jewish citizens, and by extension all Jews who are now so besieged. In doing so, it would be joining Germany, France, the United States and more than 20 state and numerous city legislatures in openly condemning anti-Semitism and BDS. Symbols are important.

Max Wisotsky
Highland Park