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Jews, Muslims, Others to Stand Together Against Islamophobia, Racism, Bigotry on Night of Chanukah

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Chris Bolt/WAER News
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A newly formed Jewish peace group is using one night of Chanukah to speak out against Islamophobia and racism.  Central New York residents recently started a chapter of ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’.  The national group is rooted in mid-east peace issues.  But organizer Julie Gozan says sentiments since the election are reason for the Wednesday Night protest.

“Anti-Muslim and other bigotry and oppression is nothing new in the United States, however we do feel that since the election our work has a heightened urgency.  The rhetoric coming out of the Trump campaign and his proposed appointments and his proposed policies could be of grave consequences to many targeted communities if enacted.”

The group plans to have speakers of Jewish faith, Muslims, African Americans and Onondaga who have all felt racism or bigotry.  Islamic Society of Central New York President Mohamed Khater hears stories of local Muslims suffering taunts and verbal abuse in malls, grocery stores and even children at school.   He dispels the thought that Muslims and Jews are always fighting.

“Religions do not fight each other; it's people who fight each other.  So when we get Jews, Christians, Muslims and others  standing together and say ‘we’re united. Whatever I want for myself I want for others.’  The golden rule applies to every religion.”

Khater says talk of terrorism and fear of immigrants has put local refugees in danger of bigotry, discrimination or worse.  

Julie Gozan finds the holiday the perfect time to take a stand.

“As a people we feel like challenging Islamophobia and racism is an obligation for us as Jews, as partners in the broader struggle for justice and dignity for all people.”

Gozan says people will be holding signs with messages against bigotry, racism and Islamophobia for each of the candles of the Menorah.  There will also be speeches and music.  The Vigil Against Islamophobia and Racism starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Clinton Square.