This year, the FBI reported two startling figures: first, that there has been an increase in hate crimes, and second, that crimes targeting Jewish people comprised almost 55 percent of all religious-bias incidents. Incidents like the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue and the Unite the Right riots in Charlottesville have shown that Jewish people are less safe in this country than they have been in decades. We cannot sit by while our Jewish neighbors are under attack; we must stand in solidarity with them and unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its forms.

As a Muslim woman, I know the dangers of religious discrimination and how bigoted language can lead to acts of violence. In 2015, three of my dear friends were shot to death in their home by their neighbor, who hated them and harassed them because they were Muslim. Their killer had previously threatened them, but because North Carolina does not have strong hate crime protections, no action was taken to protect them, and their lives ended much too soon.

The Muslim community in the Triangle was left reeling after this act of violence, which we never thought could happen in our progressive, immigrant-friendly community. The deaths of my friends were a devastating reminder that we cannot allow any act of religious discrimination to go unacknowledged or unchecked.

This will require learning and accountability from everyone—myself included. In the past, I regrettably and unintentionally invoked anti-Semitic tropes in a tweet attempting to call attention to the United States’ withdrawal of humanitarian aid from the Palestinian people. In another instance, I attended and livestreamed a protest at which destructive and anti-Semitic language, which I do not condone, was used by some of the protesters present. For my tweet and lack of sensitivity to what was captured and then posted in my personal livestream of that protest, I deeply apologize.

I stand by the urgent need to end Israel’s illegal, violent occupation of the Palestinian people. But the movement to end the occupation, secure a lasting and peaceful resolution with Israel, and defend the human rights of everyone living in the region is a movement for justice and peace, in which anti-Semitism must have no home.

I am grateful to my neighbors in the Jewish community, who have engaged in a loving process of account- ability to educate me on the harm my words have caused. I am committed to not only doing better myself but also holding those around me accountable.

Resources like Carolina Jews for Justice’s powerful anti-Semitism listening project helped me better under- stand the prevalence of anti-Semitism in our community as well as its historical roots. I also encourage others to educate themselves, especially as we lose access to the last generation of Holocaust survivors, their stories, and their memories.

As an immigrant, an elected official, and a member of our community, I want to build a world in which every person—regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed—can not only survive but thrive. The Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, offers a model for how we can work toward true equity for all peoples. We can have a community where everyone feels safe, welcomed, and respected, but only if we commit to building it together. 

The writer is a Durham County commissioner and candidate for U.S. Congress.

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