“It’s with a lot of sadness that I have to report antisemitism is happening right here in our own backyard,” Representative Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) said, referring to recent antisemitic incidents in Providence, Warwick and around the state. “Jewish people are on really high alert right now, so it is my hope all Rhode Islanders will join me in condemning these actions as well as all hateful acts wherever and whenever they occur.”
Rhode Island has seen several antisemitic incidents in the past month including a threatening note in the reception area of Brown RISD Hillel and fliers distributed around Warwick with “Defcon 3 on Jews” and “Kanye 2024” written on them.
Representative Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence), chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission, drew connections between the struggle against antisemitism with Dr. Martin Luther King and the struggle for civil rights for Black Americans. “The hatred needs to stop, the division needs to stop,” Representative Hull said. “Dr. King challenged us to stand up to discrimination in all its forms. We need to come together and stand united, all of us, against hatred and bigotry.”
America’s Black and Jewish communities have a long history of standing in solidarity against the oppression both groups face. Many American Jews were deeply involved in the civil rights movement and Dr. King spoke forcefully against antisemitism both in the US and around the world. But relations have not always been smooth. Recently that solidarity has been tested by antisemitic actions from prominent Black celebrities including the artist formerly known as Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, and what some in the Black community see as insufficient support from Jewish leaders.
To Hull and Ackerman, solidarity between their communities is vital to the fight for justice and freedom for all Americans.
“Black and Jewish Americans have faced different struggles, but both of our communities know what it is like to be ostracized, to be thought as ‘other,’ just for who we are,” said Representative Hull. “I ask us all to reflect upon what it is we celebrate on Martin Luther King Day. I ask us all to reflect upon the work we still have to do. It’s up to all of us to make it better.”
Representative Ackerman said, “At difficult times such as these, I am inspired by the great Americans who have come before us, who stood strong for the civil rights of all. Past generations have come together against racism, antisemitism and all forms of hatred. This Martin Luther King Day, and every day, we do so again.