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Five years ago: “Jews will not replace us”

I can still hear the chants.

"Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us."

I remember watching in horror, five years ago this weekend, as an angry, torch-waving mob of white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and Klansmen marched through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, unashamed of their bigotry and describing their hatred as "pride."

I thought about my Grandpa Boris, who fled the Nazis when they invaded his home town in Poland. I wondered how many times local antisemites had marched down the streets, waving torches, and stirring up violence. I wondered what disgusting garbage they chanted.

I grew up listening to Grandpa Boris's stories and learning about the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis. "Never again," he'd tell me. I'd always nod, but I'd also tell myself that that sort of thing won't happen in America. Everyone agrees that the Nazis were some of history's greatest villains. If they crawled out from under whatever rock they're under and showed up in our streets, everyone would condemn them.

The parade of hate in Charlottesville left dozens injured and one person murdered. But they weren't condemned by everyone. The President of the United States speculated that some of the marchers chanting "Jews will not replace us," were "very fine people."

Since then, antisemitic violence and incidents have only increased across the country, including in New York. This rise in antisemitism threatens the Jewish community everywhere.

It's not an exaggeration to say we know what comes next, Alex. And it's not an exaggeration to say that there's no way in hell I'm going to let it happen.

My Grandpa Boris came to this country to get away from the dangerous cowardice like we saw in Charlottesville, to raise a family in the nation that fought the Nazis. He worked hard, treated people fairly, took pride in his business, and was able to provide a comfortable life for his family, and ensure that we had the opportunities that he never did – especially to be free from antisemites proudly marching through the streets.

I'm proud of my record of working with lots of different people to get results – even folks I disagree with. That's part of what makes good leadership.

But leadership also means drawing the line and confronting evil when we see it.

In Nassau County, I co-sponsored a bill that passed earlier this year to create a special county-wide task force to combat the rise of antisemitism in our community. Moreover, in 2021, I was proud to organize a Stand Up to Anti-Semitism rally on the front steps of the Legislature, joining with religious and civic leaders of all faiths to denounce hatred towards the Jewish people.

Fighting against anti-Semitism is not just rhetoric; it has been central to my life's work and my professional career.

The anniversary of the Charlottesville march is a reminder that we need to send people to Congress who bring more than just policy ideas. We also must demand our leaders have courage to stand up for the principles that attracted folks like my grandfather to this country.

This campaign is rooted in those values. I'm proud to be in this movement with you, Alex, and honored to stand at your side.


Posted on August 14, 2022.
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