KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new Kansas City ordinance calls antisemitism a growing problem.
Racist and anti-Semitic graffiti plastered on a Blue Valley press box came this week as Kansas City’s City Council was already planning to take action against it.
The ordinance is non-legally binding. Which means it won’t increase any penalties. But it’s meant to be a form of education for everyone.
It’s been almost a decade now since nearly 30,000 Greater Kansas City Jewish community members and the rest of the Metro saw antisemitism in its deadliest form. Frazier Glenn Miller opened fire in the Jewish Community Center parking lot and Village Shalom killing 3 people.
“We stand today with the Jewish community and all those that have continued to face discrimination,” Councilwoman Andrea Bough, one of several ordinance sponsors, said.
The ordinance which passed by a unanimous vote of Kansas City’s City Council Thursday said Jews are the most likely of religious groups targeted by hate and antisemitism is still just as pervasive. Even if many people don’t know understand how or even what the word really means. The Jewish Community Relations Bureau/AJC say you can’t fight what can’t you can’t define.
“One of the biggest barriers we have in combatting antisemitism is education. About one third of Americans can’t even define the word antisemitism let alone understand the complexities of how antisemitism manifests in contemporary society,” Gavriela Geller, JCRB/AJC Executive Director, said.
“It doesn’t always take the place of hate, sometimes it’s just a stereotype,” Samantha Von Ende said.
A recent survey of Metro Jewish students found 81 percent had experienced antisemitism at school. That number grew to 89 percent when you included social media.
“So that number gives you some idea how shockingly frequent the experience of antisemitism is here locally that’s something that should disturb all of us and hopefully compel us all to action,” Geller said.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism which includes hatred, criminal acts and denial of opportunities will be available as an educational resource for local agencies responsible for addressing it including the City’s Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Departments and the Kansas City Police Department.
If you’d like to learn more about antisemitism and local efforts to combat it you can do so here.