‘Love Beats Hate’: Staten Islanders Rally for Unity After Antisemitic Flyer Campaign
“Love beats hate” was the theme on Staten Island this weekend as local leaders and residents held a unity rally following the recent distribution of racist and antisemitic flyers in the New York City borough, the Staten Island Advance reported.
“Whenever there’s an act of hatred in our community, the local clergy come together as an interfaith coalition, standing side-by-side to combat hatred and reiterate as often as we need to our shared ethic to love our neighbors and love ourselves,” Rev. Karen Jackson, co-chair of Staten Island Inter-Religious Leadership, said.
Rabbi Michael Howald of Temple Israel, another Staten Island Inter-Religious Leadership co-chair, noted, “People in our community are afraid where before our doors were open during services, now they’re routinely locked. We have people in the lobbies, trying to make sure that we identify everybody who comes into the building. And in the past two years, I’ve taken six different trainings on what to do if somebody tries to start shooting or tries to take any of us hostage. This has made people in our community deeply uneasy.”
But, he added, “the one thing that gives our community comfort, just like a lot of other communities, is that we see people coming together and saying this is unacceptable.”
In early January, a white supremacist group from neighboring New Jersey posted more than a dozen flyers around Staten Island warning of a Jewish “war” against “all non-Jewish European-American nationalists,” and claiming “600 + Jewish Orgs Support BLM Communist Terrorists.”
As part of the response to this outburst of bigotry, “ornaments of love” are being handed out across Staten Island, bearing the words, “Love your neighbor. And who is my neighbor? Everyone.”
Jackson said she hoped people would see the ornaments and “be reminded to show love to everyone through this stressful time of the pandemic.”