A former newsman speaks out against antisemitism and hatred

A former newsman speaks out against antisemitism and hatred

For 30 years of my life, I proudly served as a reporter, including nearly 11 for this publication. Despite having strong opinions on so many issues, it was critical to me that those personal beliefs did not bleed into my coverage.

That meant talking to people whose views were diametrically opposed to my own and treating them with the respect they deserved. It meant not putting my thoughts on politics on my personal social media for fear I’d lose my objectivity in the eyes of those I covered and my readers. Since retiring from reporting nearly five years ago, it took a while for me to give up that reporter’s objectivity.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, my wife and kids went to a local rally opposing the decision. My wife asked me whether I’d be going with them. While I supported the cause, I wasn’t ready to be out front with it. She then asked what kind of message I was sending to my daughters. It was a fair point, and for the first time I attended a rally holding a sign, not a notepad. And while it was a weird sensation, I’m glad I did.

Again, I can no longer in good conscience remain silent. Hate of all kinds seems to be the flavor of the day and we need the silent majority who abhor antisemitism and racism to stand up and not be afraid to speak out.

It was disgusting a few years ago when Asian-Americans were being targeted for no good reason — in New York of all places — during COVID-19 by the ignorant who branded the pandemic as the “China Flu.” The institutional and overt racism African-Americans continue to face must be eradicated — as does antisemitism. This also includes speaking out against those who seek to unfairly tie all Muslims to terrorists.

Fear breeds hate that festers when not enough people are pushing back.

Since the vicious Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, we have seen the terrorist actions condoned and cheered. We’ve experienced a fervor of antisemitism in New York, across the country and around the globe. In Montreal, a Jewish school was hit with gunfire twice in a week. In Los Angeles, anti-Jewish hate crimes jumped 27% so far in 2023. And in New York City, home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, overall hate crimes jumped 135% in October, with Jews overwhelmingly the targets.

Good people can disagree on Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. But to give equivalency to a barbaric terrorist attack is both horrifying and yes, completely antisemitic. The pro-Palestine protesters will say it’s not about being anti-Jewish, but railing against an oppressive Israeli government engaging in what they believe is apartheid. South Africa was long an apartheid state that Nelson Mandela fought against without calling for the butchering and kidnapping of innocent women, men and children.

We need more people to call Oct. 7 for what it was: a massive terrorist attack that is not to be cheered but condemned. And make no mistake, so many of the incidents we are seeing are rooted in nothing more than longstanding antisemitism wrapped in an anti-Israel message.

Recently, pro-Palestine protesters embedded themselves at an annual Shabbat event at the annual Somos conference in Puerto Rico. The Shabbat event was sponsored by UJA Federation of New York and the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, a charity that has helped hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, Jews and non-Jews alike. The protesters targeted that event despite the fact it was decidedly not a pro-Israel event.

And where was this same outrage and protests when the Taliban in recent years outlawed the secondary education of girls? Or when Iran punished its protesters with death?

Where is the condemnation when swastikas are painted on synagogues and buildings. Is that about Israel or a hatred of Jews? The fear has become palpable, particularly on college campuses and in Orthodox communities, where easy-to-spot Jewish adults and children have been taunted and threatened on the streets.

Disagree on the politics of Israel, just like so many of us don’t agree with the U.S. on every issue. But we need unqualified unity against hatred and terrorism from Jews and non-Jews alike and across the political spectrum.

For me, I can no longer sit on the sidelines playing referee. Albert Einstein once said: “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”

History has shown what happens when good people don’t speak up.

Lovett is a former long-time award winning reporter who covered the New York State Capitol for 25 years, including nearly 11 as the Albany bureau chief for the Daily News.

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