Some residents of Miami Beach awoke Sunday to swastikas engraved into their vandalized cars.
Recently, Jewish Community Centers in South Florida, including the Miami Beach JCC, received anonymous bomb threats forcing evacuations.
And across the country in recent weeks there have been hundreds of cases of tombstones damaged at Jewish cemeteries. Vice President Mike Pence toured a cemetery in St. Louis last week where gravestones were vandalized.
But locally a troubling pattern is emerging — and it needs to be responded to because leaving hate speech and conduct unrepudiated upon only enables it.
This obviously isn’t the first time Miami Beach has had to address this conduct.
In the 1990s, a group of American neo-Nazis held a rally outside the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial.
Directly across the street from where the self-described Nazis spouted hate-filled rhetoric, thousands of Beach residents assembled, peacefully singing “Hatikvah,” the Israeli National Anthem — drowning out the hate with a song that literally means “the hope.”
I remember thinking as we stood there arm in arm, people of all faiths and ethnicities, what an awesome display of unity and power.
I was so proud of the children and young people in attendance who learned why standing up in the face of hate is not an option, but a necessity.
Today, we should respond similarly and rally to demonstrate who we are as a community.
We should make it clear to the anonymous cowards — and anyone else who might feel empowered to exhibit hate — that our community is united, proud and unafraid.
As the late Elie Wiesel explained: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
Dan Gelber, Miami Beach