This story will not be found in any newspaper. However, it documents how the Federation works in response to a report of Antisemitism. It also demonstrates that when we work together with our constituents and our community leaders, we can achieve good results.
Early last week, the Federation received messages from a number of constituents who were very upset to see a moving van stored in a parking lot in one of our towns which had certain of the letters of the Company name removed. As a result, the word spelled on the side of the van read “ye”. As we all know, Ye (the billionaire entertainer formerly known as Kanye West) has recently unleashed a torrent of hateful and threatening rhetoric targeting Jews.
For a variety of reasons, we will not mention the town in which this occurred or the company involved. The van was parked in a manner that made sure that everyone driving by clearly saw the message being delivered. We are fortunate that our community members both recognized the problem and reported it to the Federation. Upon learning of the van and its message, we immediately sent the information and photos to ADL and Mike Shanbrom, our Federation’s Regional Security Advisor.
We understood that this was not an uncomplicated matter. First, there was some slight room for unclarity as to whether the “ye” van was an accidental occurrence rather than an intentional message. Second, even when it became clear that the manipulation of the letters was intentional, not everyone understands the message being conveyed with letters “ye”. Finally, if the van were on private property, it is possible that nothing could be done about the issue.
However, we had no choice but to see what we could do about the matter. We called the Town to alert officials about the van. After some explanation to help the officials understand the message being delivered, the Town officials were appalled and quickly agreed to speak with the owner of the Company. At the same time, ADL reached out to representatives of the Company as well. Within a day or so, we received a call from our principal contact with Town who confirmed that the owner had, reluctantly, agreed to move the van.
On Thursday morning, we had confirmation that the van had been moved so that the offending message was no longer visible. The Federation is greatly appreciative of the quick and respectful action of the Town, both in recognizing the problem and in taking action to solve the problem. We also want to thank the Connecticut Regional Office of ADL for its support as well.
There are three lessons to be learned from this matter:
Always report antisemitic incidents, whether criminal or not. The police need to know when our community is threatened, even if no crime has been committed. In addition, organizations like Secure Community Network and ADL keep track of these incidents. Finally, in responding to these acts, there is often an opportunity to remedy the problem and to build relationships so that the Jewish community will have allies in responding to acts of hate,
Bad actions occur, but it is the response that matters in the long run. Every act of hate hurts, However, we do not judge a town or an institution by the fact that a bad act happens to occur. Instead, we judge communities and institutions by how they respond to the bad act. The response in showing support for the victimized group is what is remembered.
Hatred of Jews can create strange bedfellows. The people who conveyed support for Ye have little in common with him and, in fact, represent starkly different variations of extremism. However, hatred of Jews tends to allow the haters to overlook the enmity that they would normally feel for one another. That is a testament to the unique quality of the conspiratorial hate that too often targets the Jewish people.