The Manhattan Beach City Council has approved a resolution to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism and also to condemn anti-Semitism in all forms.
The resolution, introduced by Councilmember Hildy Stern, was approved 5-0.
The definition reads as follows: "Antisemitism is a certain perception 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 institutions and religious facilities.
(The full text of the resolution can be seen in Item 16 of Tuesday night's City Council agenda
"This is a hard time for our community," said Stern, referencing a recent spate of hate attacks
in the community. "People are asking us to do something, to do more, to do whatever we can...There’s isn’t a place where we can say we’ve done enough. And our community is saying we haven’t done enough. And I join in that, because it's still occurring."
Stern acknowledged that observing an official definition of anti-Semitism was "just one step," but it was an important step to guide conversations forward.
She also mentioned that she was part of a new working group that included leaders from the Manhattan Beach school district, as well as religious, business, city, and community leaders to find the best ways to educate and combat hate.
"It’s harmful - and it should be harmful to anybody whether you’re a Jew or not, knowing that there’s that kind of hate out there," said Stern.
Hate Crimes Continue
While Manhattan Beach has experienced a variety of hate crimes and graffiti in the past, the issue of anti-Semitism has come to the forefront in recent weeks with a rash of new hate incidents.
The Manhattan Beach schools recently experienced their 9th incident of hate graffiti
this year. The most recent incident, at Pennekamp Elementary, was a case of racist graffiti, but multiple previous incidents at Mira Costa and elsewhere were anti-Semitic
Residents have reacted with anger and disbelief that such incidents have continued; and that security cameras had variously either not been installed or had not been successful in identifying the offenders.
"We’re not throwing our full force into getting these perpetrators. And we must," said Councilmember Suzanne Hadley, who called on school officials to work more closely with and be more responsive to the city.
Mayor Steve Napolitano called the incidents "an affront to our entire community."
"In terms of what we need to do, enforcement is the short term," Napolitano said. "The fact that they even feel comfortable doing that, that there might be other people that share that belief... the fact that they are doing it at all is disturbing. The long term is going to be what Councilmember Stern is working on [with the working group]."
Added Napolitano: "We don’t need a common outrage as much as a common conscience."