On Oct. 7, Rhode Islanders awoke to the shock and horror happening in Israel and the Middle East. The murder of 1,400 Israeli citizens and the taking of 200 hostages by Hamas rocked the Jewish community and many in Rhode Island. Since then, the loss of innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians in the conflict has been difficult to contend with.
Many in our Rhode Island community are earnestly grappling with conversations among friends and family, while others are educating themselves about the history of the region, seeking answers to an incredibly complex conflict. But there is one element to this conflict that has been particularly disturbing, and that is the impact that it has had here in Rhode Island.
Since Oct. 7, Rhode Island has seen a rise in antisemitic incidents, including antisemitic leafleting, bomb threats to local Jewish institutions, and slurs being hurled at Jewish community members. It would be easy to say that the antisemitic activity has been limited to the last few weeks, but that would not be true. Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in hate over the last few years that not only impacts the Jewish community, but the African American communities and other marginalized groups as well.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a troubling increase in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents across the country. These include the tragic murder of 6-year-old Palestinian-American Wadea Al-Fayoume in Chicago. Earlier this month, the FBI released data on hate crimes in the United States. It found that racism and antisemitism have surged to alarming heights, with racially motivated hate crimes disproportionately targeting African Americans, and with Jewish Americans experiencing the largest share of religiously motivated attacks.
Rhode Island has not been immune from this trend, and it is one of the reasons that our organizations work so closely together. We know that we must come together to form a community of conscience, that we are bound by a collective commitment to extinguishing the flames of hatred, racism, antisemitism, and ignorance.
Today our nation is divided, but we must stand together to root out hate. The onus falls on all of us as individuals to forge ahead with a shared vision: one that safeguards the sanctity of every individual, regardless of their color, their creed, or their religion. It is especially in these moments, where the challenges that confront us seem imposing, that we must remember they are not insurmountable.
We Rhode Islanders can lead the way in closing the chapter on our country’s struggle against racism, antisemitism, and all forms of hate. The two of us stand united as allies in this noble endeavor and invite all Rhode Islanders to join us. In these moments, we are truly stronger together.
Harrison Tuttle is the President of Black Lives Matter RI PAC. Adam Greenman is the President and CEO of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.