Mayor Jared C. Nicholson
Lynn’s history is one of welcoming people from all corners of the world to build their lives and families in our neighborhoods. Our embrace of diversity is to be celebrated, especially as we continue to witness alarming spikes in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia around the globe. Even here, many of our Jewish and Muslim neighbors are living in a constant state of fear.
I have asked to address you today to make it clear that we will not tolerate anti-Semitism in my administration. We will not tolerate Islamophobia. We will not tolerate hate of any kind.
The war between Israel and Hamas has been a frequent topic of discussion. I know that the role of the United States is critical to the outcome, so I understand why it feels relevant. The country’s role in armed conflict is and should be debated in a democratic society. What is not debatable is terrorism. Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7th was a vicious act of terror. What has followed — how Israel is responding — is an active and sometimes polarizing debate, even within the Jewish community.
In these challenging times, I ask our citizens to tamp down the flames of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism by making distinctions between policies and people. If you are sharing views to criticize policies or decisions, make sure to also make it clear that you support your Muslim and Jewish neighbors and their right to live in peace and safety.
The tragedy of demonizing and then targeting an entire people has unfortunately played out repeatedly throughout human history – enough to know that we must all be vigilant in preventing its recurrence. I met with a group of rabbis last week, faith leaders who serve Lynn’s Jewish community. They shared the trauma and fear of these days. They now have police cars sitting outside their temples. It is our task as a community to address these fears and affirm for all our common humanity.
As the mayor of Lynn, I care deeply about our constituents’ identities as Lynners. But I recognize that it is one of many identities you carry. Carrying multiple identities brings a powerful truth and harmony with humanity, and it’s something we embrace and are proud of. I also understand the unique challenges it poses for the democratic experiment.
In other words, a functioning democracy across different identities remains a work in progress.
With all our challenges, I firmly believe that we have a real opportunity to work to create that example. A democratic community that is actually open in practice, not just on paper. My belief in that prospect is the driving force in my work as mayor.
The City isn’t involved in the Middle East. That is not our work. But I truly believe that what is our work in supporting our residents, in supporting the pursuit of a thriving democracy across multiple identities with real paths to opportunity, which is in many ways unprecedented, is a significant contribution to the global mission of human freedom and dignity.
We can’t do that if anyone feels like they don’t belong. To our Jewish residents and to our Muslim residents, you belong here and we support you.
Jared C. Nicholson is mayor of Lynn.