Commissioners Condemn Antisemitism on Kristallnacht 84th Anniversary
Published on November 10, 2022
Recent Threats On Jews & Synagogues Prompt Renewed Commitment to Unity
Recent acts of antisemitism, including a threat against New Jersey synagogues, prompted the Morris County Board of County Commissioners to call for unity and lambast anti-Jewish attacks last night, on the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Also known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” the date marks the night of Nov. 9 and early Nov. 10, 1938, when mobs of Germans and Austrians attacked, looted and burned Jewish shops and homes, destroyed 267 synagogues, killed more than 90 Jews and drove another 30,000 into jails and prisons.
The Commissioners said they were moved, in part, because of social media threats made last week against Jews in New Jersey that prompted the FBI to issue a rare warning and led law enforcement to increase security around synagogues and Jewish organizations to close activities. Coincidentally, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey announced today it has charged 18-year-old Omar Alkattoul, of Sayreville with making the threats.
“What needs to be said is, antisemitism is again growing in our society and in the world -- and it’s not just about lone kooks. Last week’s threat followed the widely reported antisemitic slurs openly uttered and posted to social media by some celebrities in this nation. We are seeing a great deal of antisemitism coming from people who are successful in life, supposedly educated, and in positions of prominence,” said Commissioner Director Tayfun Selen.
The remarks came as the board was preparing to host its annual Veterans Day Observance by honoring local veterans with their Morris County Distinguished Service Medals.
“Veterans served, as I served, for the highest ideals, for the freedoms we enjoy, speech, religion, assembly, and so much more. Those who perpetuate hate based on ANY religion, or ANY ethnic background, do not honor the service of our veterans or those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Deputy Director John Krickus, retired USMC.
Commissioner Deborah Smith, who is Jewish, said the growing wave of antisemitism has been fomenting for many years, undeterred by “polite society.”
“While this scourge has long clouded our society, this latest resurgence has been building for over a decade, and Director Selen touched on something very important: This rise in antisemitism is NOT just coming from lone kooks and neo-Nazis. It is being embraced by many elites in our society, and it has permeated our suburban enclaves, even here in Morris County,” Smith said.
More than 350 Morris County residents participated in a "Community Rally Against Hate'' in January 2020 with the Commissioners and many other county and state officials, as well religious leaders, following several violent attacks on Jews and synagogues around the nation in 2019.
FULL REMARKS OF THE COMMISSIONERS
Director Tayfun Selen:
Before we move forward tonight, I want to address a serious and growing concern shared by all on this board.
Last week, synagogues throughout New Jersey were on lock-down because the FBI said they had a credible threat of an attack on our Jewish brothers and sisters at one of their houses of worship. We did not know where or how it was going to happen. Just that it was a credible threat.
Fortunately, the young man who posted the threat was quickly found, and the FBI determined there was no planned attack. The culprit was an angry young man expressing deep hatred toward the Jewish people on social media.
What needs to be said is, antisemitism is again growing in our society and in the world -- and it’s not just about lone kooks. Last week’s threat followed the widely reported antisemitic slurs openly uttered and posted to social media by some celebrities in this nation.
We are seeing a great deal of antisemitism coming from people who are successful in life, supposedly educated, and in positions of prominence. And these people are on all points along the political spectrum.
I know some of my colleagues want to say something about this tonight, so I will break with our normal protocol to open our meeting to their comments.
However, I will conclude by saying, I am a Muslim American who works on this Board of Commissioners with Jewish and Christian board members toward the betterment of everyone in Morris County.
We come to this from a wide range of backgrounds and ideas to solve problems, and that is what America is all about. My family and I live in Morris County, and we share this great community with people of all faiths, races, cultures, lifestyles and worldviews.
I consider it a personal affront when I see any one person or group attacked or diminished by anyone because of religion, race and just who they are.
Whatever our differences, I urge everyone to unite against antisemitism and all bigotry. We are all Americans, and we cannot let that important bond be broken by hate.
Commissioner Deborah Smith:
Thank you, Director Selen, for raising this issue tonight.
As the one Jewish member of this board, I must note that the rise in antisemitism -- documented by every law enforcement agency and watchdog group in the nation – unfortunately is nothing new.
While this scourge has long clouded our society, this latest resurgence has been building for over a decade, and Director Selen touched on something very important: This rise in antisemitism is NOT just coming from lone kooks and neo-Nazis.
It is being embraced by many elites in our society, and it has permeated our suburban enclaves, even here in Morris County. Historic contributions of Jewish Americans to our nation’s history are being diminished by some, questioned by others and even erased from schools.
It is not just acts of vandalism, violence and threats of violence – all of which are terrible to watch – but a more insidious wave infecting the pop-culture these days. We hear it from musical artists and on TV talk shows, like “The View,” where one host insisted the Holocaust was not about race.
Life on America’s college campuses is not easy for any Jewish student wearing jewelry with the Star of David. Any expression on campus of being Jewish or having a kinship with Israel will bring swift rebukes – and sometimes threats of violence – from fellow students and even faculty.
It was the professors and administrators in our institutions of higher learning who began demonizing Israel and fueling the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign designed to destroy Israel’s economy. Now think about that.
Our universities have been leading a campaign to destroy and demonize the only true Democracy in the Middle East for well over the past decade
Of course, the underpinnings of this overt hate for Israel is hate for all Jews, and this hate is what is passing for a college education at a time when we are finally getting the children of historically marginalized people into colleges. Apparently, they too are learning that it’s considered smart to demonize Israel and Jews.
So, wat did we think would happen in society as this continued?
I am uplifted tonight by the determination of my fellow Commissioners to speak out against antisemitism. I thank them, and I too will say: If America is to survive, we must remain united as Americans and fight this scourge – and that means fighting it wherever and whenever it raises its ugly head, even if it is in polite society.
Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus:
Today, November 9th is also known as Kristallnacht, or night of broken glass, when in 1938 thousands of synagogues, Jewish businesses, and Jewish people were mercilessly assaulted, as the Holocaust grew.
The United States, the Marine Corps, Army and Navy are all approaching their 250th anniversaries, there has been no greater force for good in the world in these 250 years then the United States. Six years after Kristallnacht, the US Armed forces were liberating death camps such as Dachau, defeating fascism and Japanese imperialism, and forty-five years later American fortitude resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Iron Curtain, as the countries of Eastern Europe threw off the chains of socialism and become free nations.
Veterans served, as I served, for the highest ideals, for the freedoms we enjoy, speech, religion, assembly, and so much more. Those who perpetuate hate based on ANY religion, or ANY ethnic background, do not honor the service of our veterans or those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
I join my fellow commissioners and denounce in the strongest terms the recent expressions of anti-Semitism. If you want to honor veterans honor the highest ideals we served to protect.