Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, spoke for JAI at the September 25th interfaith City Hall press conference condemning the Geller “Savages” subway ads. She said:
JAI is a coalition of Jews Say No!, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jewish Voice for Peace.
We are honored to be part of this coalition that looks like New York! We believe in free speech and are using it today to denounce hate speech.
As Jews, we remember our own history of facing discrimination and oppression based on religious status—around the world and also here in the U.S.– and thus feel doubly obligated to speak out against the vile bigotry and hate displayed in these ads. We are very proud to be with everyone here today united in condemning them.
Pam Geller’s targeting of an entire religious community as a means of drumming up support for Israel, regardless of its actions in the occupied territories, is cynical in the extreme.
The ads are all the more dangerous and offensive because they are running in the context of rising Islamophobia throughout the city and country. We have a responsibility to speak out against Islamophobia whenever it occurs. For example, the NYPD surveillance program on mosques and Muslim gathering places is certainly less virulent in tone, but shares the same root of distrust for an entire religious community that is absolutely unacceptable in a city like New York, or anywhere.
Jews Against Islamophobia pledges to continue to fight against all forms of Islamophobia and look forward to doing so with an ever-growing number of our fellow New Yorkers. We call on Mayor Bloomberg to denounce this racial incitement in the strongest possible terms.