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Statement from County Executive Elrich on Antisemitism Resolution Passed by the County Council

For Immediate Release: Tuesday 1 November

In response to rising incidents of Antisemitism across the country and here in Montgomery County, the Council today passed a Resolution to Address and Combat Antisemitism.  According to the most recent annual report on bias incidents in the County, “Of the 34 incidents motivated by bias towards religion, 85.3% were considered anti-Jewish, despite Jewish persons making up only 10% of the population.” 

The resolution follows previous Council resolutions, and the definition of antisemitism in this resolution is straightforward:

Antisemitism is a certain perspective of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.  Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community organizations and religious facilities.

The Council also included language reaffirming the right to free speech and clarified that speech that disagrees with the policies or actions of the government of Israel is not considered antisemitic.

I want to acknowledge that some community members are concerned that the Resolution might constrain such speech, but that is not the case.  One of the hallmarks of American society is that, unlike some governments in the world, we do not prohibit or punish criticism of our own government and any legislation that did that regarding any other government would be antithetical to our values. 

Similarly, some people are concerned that this resolution may change how law enforcement acts and expressed concern that people may become targets of surveillance for their political views, and I want to assure people that this resolution does not anticipate, allow, or promote actions that violate people’s civil liberties – freedom of expression is and always will be one of our most important core values. It does not change what we are already doing in response to hate crimes.

What this Resolution does is reaffirm our County’s commitment to enforce our laws to protect people from acts of hate – we will continue to investigate acts of hate, prosecute people when illegal acts are committed and reassure the community that we will work to keep all communities in Montgomery County safe, which is what we do today.  How we will enforce our laws will not change.  Any acts of hate that violate our laws will be investigated and prosecuted.  Period.  And that policy is the same for everyone and every community in our County. 

The County has a strong and long record in ensuring that ALL of our residents will be safe here and that we will take actions necessary to ensure their safety.  We remain steadfast in that commitment and resolve to continue to treat all communities equally and with respect. In fact, Montgomery County is one of few jurisdictions in the Country that provides security grants to institutions that have been targets of hate, and one will find a wide and varied group of institutions availing themselves of that program.

These are difficult times in America.  We are watching an unprecedented rise in hate crimes and violence and of speech that seeks to divide us while demonizing some communities.  We have made enormous progress in just my lifetime, and those of us who believe that a society has to provide “liberty and justice for all” will continue to work to ensure that we do just that.  Whether we’re talking about racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, or religious bigotry - no one should feel that they are not safe or not welcome here.  And that is what this county continues to be committed to. 

Release ID: 22-028