SUN SENTINEL: Call for an antisemitic ‘day of hate’ sparks united counteraction. ‘Hate will have no quarter here in Broward County.’
BY ANTHONY MAN
The call for a “National Day of Hate” from white supremacists promoting antisemitism produced a counter-reaction in Broward, as a range of political, law enforcement, civic and religious leaders joined to denounce antisemitism and other forms of hate. “We are united against the extremists and the white supremacists,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The call for a “National Day of Hate” from white supremacists promoting antisemitism produced a counter-reaction in Broward, as a range of political, law enforcement, civic and religious leaders joined to denounce antisemitism and other forms of hate.
“We are united against the extremists and the white supremacists,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who convened Monday’s event at Chabad of Southwest Broward. “Hate will have no quarter here in Broward County.”The purpose of the gathering, she said, was to “make very clear that hate in our community will not be tolerated, that we are united against the extremists, the white supremacists, that we stand together in this community, and we will do whatever we can to push back and to make sure that haters understand [that] in Broward County and in South Florida that the overwhelming majority of people who live here are people of love, and people who will not tolerate hatred directed toward any community.”
About 50 people came together for the Wasserman Schultz-convened event in Cooper City. The event, which lasted for almost two hours, was held behind closed doors. Several participants discussed their concerns later during a brief news conference and subsequent interviews.
“We’re going to take a stand and we’re going to hopefully embolden and deputize all of us, the entire community to respond to that hate and evil with acts of love and kindness, hopefully law enforcement,” said Rabbi Pinny Andrusier of Chabad of Southwest Broward.
Nationally, the Anti-Defamation League, in its warning about a white supremacist-sponsored “Date of Hate” that had been planned for planned for Saturday, called for “resolve and solidarity” and not to succumb to fear and isolation desired by the perpetrators.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was concerned enough about recent harassment of Jewish people and “seeing coordinated efforts” about the so-called National Day of Hate that it issued a statewide bulletin on Friday and promised to “use the full weight of Florida law to ensure the safety of our Jewish and all faith-based communities against these hate groups.”
One of the incidents cited Friday by ADL, and on Monday by Wasserman Schultz and Andrusier, was a white supremacist group’s actions this month outside Chabad of South Orlando.
The Jewish news site the Forward reported that “slurs and insults” were hurled at Jewish people leaving the Chabad. The Jerusalem Post reported that videos “show members of the antisemitic organization approaching acar driven by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man.” Protesters held signs promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories. “Leave our country, go back to Israel,” said a man with a megaphone.
With the celebratory Jewish holiday of Purim beginning on March 6, Andrusier said he hopes for law enforcement action against those who threaten or commit dangerous actions — and that “once again, goodness and kindness prevails and all of this hate for all men, not just for the Jewish people, ends once and for all.”
Khalid M. Mirza, of Southwest Ranches, board chairman of the Muslim Communities Association of South Florida, echoed the message of solidarity on behalf of all people who are subject to hate. “If one minority group is being attacked, then next another minority group is being attacked,” he said.
The American Jewish Committee, which released its latest State of Antisemitism in America report on Feb. 13, reported that 43% of American Jews surveyed last year reported antisemitism has increased a lot in the last five years and 39% said it had increased somewhat.
Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor, who participated in the event, said he had a message for people “who are thinking about committing a hate crime, or if you have a hateful heart, or you want to commit a crime against a local synagogue or a local temple or a local church.
“I want to tell you that if you commit a crime based on someone’s national origin, based on someone’s race, based on someone’s religion … we will vigorously pursue you and we will vigorously prosecute you. There is no place for hate here in Broward County.”
In March 2021, shortly after he took office, Pryor created a hate crimes unit in the State Attorney’s office through a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund the Broward County Hate Crimes Awareness Initiative, which brings together law enforcement, educational and community organizations. Pryor’s office added $106,000 for the effort.
Through January, a spokesperson said, the unit filed 18 cases, at least two of which were hate-crime enhancements where the allegation involved antisemitism. That doesn’t count other allegations of antisemitism that resulted in criminal charges but not a hate crime enhancement.
Palm Beach County Mayor Gregg Weiss has announced a town hall meeting on Thursday to discuss recent incidents of antisemitism, bigotry and hate.
“The recent displays of antisemitism in Palm Beach County show that hatred of Jews is not historical and distant but is here and now,” Weiss said in an email blast about the event. “This is not just an issue for the Jewish community, it’s an issue for all of us. When one group is targeted, it undermines the fabric of our society and the very principles upon which this great nation was founded.”
Last month, he held a closed-door meeting about recent antisemitic incidents, but Thursday’s event is open to the public.
It is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, west of Delray Beach.
Receive regular email updates from Debbie