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Following string of bigoted acts, county joins state in denouncing antisemitism

Thursday, November 4, 2021 by Seth Smalley

The only item on Tuesday’s Commissioners Court docket pertained to a resolution condemning antisemitism in all its forms in Travis County.

The resolution comes in response to a recent series of antisemitic acts in Austin and Travis County, as well as other cities and counties in Texas. Travis County is joining communities across the state to denounce these acts, and antisemitism and bigotry more generally.

“Antisemitism is the centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because they’re Jews,” County Judge Andy Brown said, reading language from the resolution.

According to an FBI report, there was a 14 percent increase in hate crimes against Jews or Jewish establishments in 2019, with 953 specific instances. The resolution noted that attacks against Jews made up over 60 percent of all religious hate crimes, citing the 2021 terrorist attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh as one example.

“I think it’s incredibly important that people of goodwill stand together. I think it’s incredibly important that when we see, whether it’s antisemitic, whether it is discrimination against minorities, LGBT community, that we stand as a united community and speak out against it,” Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion said. “If we don’t speak out against it, then it makes it seem as if what is being done is normal, custom and accepted.”

The resolution made reference to multiple recent antisemitic acts in Austin and Travis County. Last weekend, Texas Public Radio reported that 10 members of a neo-Nazi group from Florida traveled to Austin to hang a banner with anti-Jewish messaging. The members flaunted their shirts, which featured swastikas.

Arson investigators are also looking into the source of a fire started outside of Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue in Central Austin, on Sunday.

“We need to ensure the safety and security of Jewish communities, including synagogues, schools, cemeteries and other institutions,” the resolution reads.

“… It is critical that Travis County take leadership and stand in solidarity with its Jewish communities to send a message that discriminatory and hate-motivated behavior, or violence will not be tolerated.”

After quoting Martin Luther King Jr. – “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion said, “We have got to be willing to confront those who are like us and those who are not like us to say that we’re not going to stand for it, we’re not going to listen to jokes, we’re not going to participate in the demonization and the moral demoralization of others …. If we don’t nip this in the bud early, history is a witness to what happens to communities.”

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

Photo by Max Pixel, made available through a Creative Commons license.

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