The WBA consistently endeavors to use its voice in clear and steadfast support of its mission to maintain the honor and integrity of the profession of the law and promote the administration of justice. Our mission requires us to demand tolerance and inclusion and to speak out against hate and bias in this country in any form. It requires us to stand up when language used on social media and in the streets crosses the line from political criticism and protest into bigotry, including tropes that for centuries have spurred violence and persecution of those who adhere to the Jewish faith. Such words have consequences. We cannot and will not stand idly by.
When white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville chanted, “Jews will not replace us,” or a shooter in Pittsburgh killed 11 people for being Jewish, the world understood that silence was the wrong response in the face of such blatant anti-Semitism. The current violence between Israelis and Palestinians does not make the increased instances of anti-Semitism in the United States acceptable, just as it would not make a spike in Islamophobic words and actions in the United States acceptable. Indeed, the WBA rejects the notion that anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim hate speech or violent acts will ever bring about peace or justice here or elsewhere.
The WBA has diverse members that may have a variety of personal opinions on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Notwithstanding these differing opinions, the WBA Board and its members are in agreement on one thing for sure — we condemn hate speech in any form.
The WBA’s use of our platform to denounce hate and bigotry is by no means a new phenomenon. Most recently, we condemned systemic racism, co-signed a statement with 20 legal and other associations decrying attacks against Americans of Asian or Pacific Islander descent and a national statement, decried the violent attack against federal Judge Esther Salas following the murder of her son at her home by a self-proclaimed “men’s rights” and “anti-feminist” lawyer, and spoke out strongly in response to the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021. Consistent with these efforts, the WBA reiterates our stance against inciteful speech, generally, as well as slurs and violent acts against certain groups of people, including women, people of color, religious minorities, and others.
The United States Constitution specifically states in the First Amendment that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. At its core, this is a message of mutual respect that has permeated American society at large. The WBA calls for a renewed awareness and embrace of this message of mutual respect. Hate has no place among us, and history dictates that we must not be silent.