The rabbi who serves the Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom in the Flathead Valley of Montana, shared this letter with “T’ruah – Rabbis for Human Rights” and gave me permission to post it, but first a few words of context:
As a consequence of the Trump presidential campaign and election, hate speech and hate crimes have dramatically increased against minorities in communities around the United States. In the past few weeks, the small Jewish community in the Flathead Valley of Montana has been the target of threats from white supremacist anti-Semites. The organized Jewish community in the United States has come to their assistance, but many American Jews and others are unaware of what has been taking place. Hence, I am posting what the community’s rabbi sent to Rabbis around the country. At the end are a series of articles that have appeared concerning this matter.
The last several weeks have been difficult for us, but they have also reminded us of the essential goodness of our Montana neighbors and our fellow Americans.
We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we have received from individuals and organizations around the country. We deeply appreciate all who have expressed concern about haters targeting us, disrupting our lives, and threatening to conduct an anti-Semitic white extremist rally in our community. We are especially grateful for our wonderful neighbors in Whitefish and the State of Montana, who have stood by our Jewish community here in the Flathead Valley every step of the way.
Many supporters have asked what they can do to help now. First, let us state what would NOT be helpful: There should be no effort to engage in a counter-protest rally should the extremists decide to come to our community.
We have been in constant contact with law enforcement and other government officials, and also with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, all of whom have significant expertise in monitoring and dealing with extremist individuals and groups. They are emphatic and unanimous in their belief that any such counter-rally would be counterproductive; a bad idea that would only serve to feed the extremists’ craving for attention and legitimacy. We live in a small town and creating a bigger conflict or larger demonstration is only disruptive to our lives.
There are things you CAN do – actions that would mean a lot to us. First, while at this time we do not believe that the hate rally will actually happen, you can support efforts such as the initiative that encourages people to pledge money for every minute the haters march should their rally materialize. The funds will go to the Montana Human Rights Network, which supports diversity throughout Montana. This is a wonderful way to turn lemons into lemonade. Indeed, even if there is no march, this organization is worthy of your support,
Second, you can use the Whitefish story as a way to engage individuals, organizations, and schools in your own communities in positive discussions on how to stand up to hate. We never expected to be the target of a hate campaign, but this experience has made it clear to us that today no one is immune from cyber terrorism, trolling, doxxing, and other manifestations of hate online. The good news is that there are also now many resources to help people address this, including these from ADL and the SPLC.
Thank you again for your concern, your support, and your willingness to stand up and not be bystanders when anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice, bigotry and hate surface. Our community is stronger because you have been there for us.
flatheadbeacon.com/…/montana-delegation-condemns-anti–semitism-white-nationalis… Dec 27, 2016 –
flatheadbeacon.com/2016/…/50-faith-leaders-supporting-jewish–communities–montan… Dec 22, 2016
http://www.jta.org/…/montana-faith-leaders-speak-out-in-support-of-beleaguered-jewish–co…Dec 26, 2016
forward.com/…/in-montana-activists-and-a-rabbi-resist-the-resident-white-supremacist… Dec 15, 2016
http://www.haaretz.com › U.S. News Dec 19, 2016 –
unofficialnetworks.com/2016/12/white-supremacists-whitefish Dec 27, 2016
http://www.irehr.org/2016/12/25/white-nationalist-group-targets-whitefish-montana/ Dec 25, 2016