Ari (Ballaban) Jun — In Conversation
Defining the Hate to Help Fight Back
On Wednesday, Cincinnati’s City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution recognizing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. This is a big win and only came about due to efforts by JCRC, AJC, and council member Mark Jeffreys who introduced and supported the resolution.
Really, there is little surprise in the resolution’s passage. It was always unlikely that a majority of council would oppose it. The real concern, even until the moment of passage, was that there might have been a) heated opposition testimony from members of the public pushing for council members to reject the resolution, and/or b) a member or two of city council who could have voted in the minority, against it. But that’s not what happened. Instead, almost all members of council spoke staunchly in favor of the resolution, and it passed without any opposition or dissent.
There are two big reasons why this matters. The first is that antisemitism is on an upward trajectory nationally and here in Cincinnati. We are facing a crisis, and it means something that Cincinnati’s City Council signaled their intent to push back. Essentially, they said “the fight against antisemitism is a fight that matters to all of us.” The passage also matters because it gives the Jewish community something they can hold up—something to point to—that says that our experiences are real, they matter, and that those who perpetrate them have nowhere to hide.
In naming and defining the hate we face, we tell our haters that they are no longer anonymous and that they can no longer pretend that their behavior is acceptable. Psalm 9:14 (speaking to God) portrays the psalmist crying out “have mercy on me,” “see my affliction at the hands of my haters.” That is exactly what we say now to the community at large. See the haters, see our pain, and please—let’s work to fight back.