December 6, 2015 — This week, American Jews are participating in a series of nationally coordinated actions against Islamophobia and racism to mark the eight days of Chanukah with a rekindling of their commitment to justice. Beginning Sunday, December 6th at 4pm in Rockefeller Center in New York City, each night of Chanukah Jewish activists and community members will gather to make public commitments to challenge state-sanctioned Islamophobia and racism and to call for the United States to welcome refugees. Each of the commitments is articulated through a sign that is in the shape of a candle; the candles together are in the shape of a menorah. Actions are happening each night in 15 cities across the country—New York City, Miami, Chicago, Washington, DC, New Haven, Portland (Oregon), Durham, Columbus (Ohio), Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, Ithaca, Springfield, Denver and Providence.
Initiated by Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) in NYC (a coalition of Jews Say No! and Jewish Voice for Peace–New York) and the Network Against Islamophobia (NAI), a project of Jewish Voice for Peace nationally, these actions call for the Jewish community to stand strong against Islamophobia and racism and in solidarity with communities facing threats and discrimination in the wake of recent violence and disturbing public rhetoric. On the eighth and last night of Chanukah, activists in each of the cities will come out again to rekindle their commitments to justice from city to city, from community to community, and from strength to strength.
According to Elly Bulkin of Jews Against Islamophobia and the Network Against Islamophobia, “We understand that the ongoing violence against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim takes place in the context of ongoing and systemic Islamophobia and racism that are pervasive and deep within our society. We are committed to challenging all forms of Islamophobia and racism in whatever ways we can.”
The commitments listed on the signs are: 1. We will not be silent about anti-Muslim and racist hate speech and hate crimes; 2. We condemn state surveillance of the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities; 3. We challenge, through our words and actions, institutionalized racism and state-sanctioned anti-Black violence; 4. We protest the use of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism to justify Israel’s repressive policies against Palestinians; 5. We fight anti-Muslim profiling and racial profiling in all its forms; 6. We call for an end to racist policing #SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter; 7. We stand against U.S. policies driven by the “war on terror” that demonize Islam and devalue, target, and kill Muslims; and 8. We welcome Syrian refugees and stand strong for immigrants’ rights and refugee rights.
Follow @jvplive and #Light4Justice to see photos and videos of the actions this week.
Network Against Islamophobia can be reached at NAI@JVP.org