Fighting hate requires that communities stand together

Business alliance between Israel, Korea speaks to need

They are the subject of hate caused by no reason other than their race.

They fear the country on their border, which is always threatening to attack them and their way of life.

They feel isolated, constantly wondering who will come to their aid in a time of peril.

If you think it was unusual for representatives of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce to be at a recent Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce event, then you haven’t stopped to think how much the two groups have in common.

Duvi Honig, the founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber, sure has. That’s why he was so delighted to see James Kim, the chairman of the Korean American Chamber, and his colleagues, last week at an event in Teaneck, where U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.) was honored.

“People don’t realize how much we have in common,” Honig said. “It’s not just trade and a desire to build our economies, but feeling threatened at our border.”

Honig said the bond was never so evident as it was last fall.

Shortly after the horrific events of Oct. 7, when Hamas invaded Israel, killing thousands, Honig attended a Korean Chamber expo in New York City, where there was a moment of silence.

“That meant everything to us,” Honig said.

A few months later, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Gyeonsang, South Korea, where Gov. Cheol-Woo Lee expressed his delight at the budding partnership.

Kim echoed those thoughts last week.

“Our chambers have been great partners,” he said. “We are honored to attend this event and show them our support.”

Gottheimer was honored with the third annual Morris Katz Award, a prestigious honor that goes to individuals who have made significant contributions to promoting education, combating antisemitism and fostering a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the U.S.

He made sure to note and thank the Korean delegation in attendance, stressing the importance of standing up to hate against all groups.

Fighting hate, Gottheimer said, starts with education.

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer. (File photo)

“Our job — and I can’t say this enough — is to make sure young people understand what our history is. Not just Jewish American history, or the U.S.-Israel relationship, but all history, so they understand what actually happened.”

Gottheimer has been a leader in truth-telling since he was first elected as the representative from the 5th Congressional District in 2016.

His efforts regarding U.S.-Israeli relations and educating the public on Israeli history — starting with the Holocaust and now the Oct. 7 invasion by Hamas — are most noted for the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons Act, better known as the HEAL Act.

The bill, which passed in January, still needs to be acted upon in the Senate.

Its purpose, Gottheimer said, was clear this past spring, during protests on university campuses in New Jersey and across the country. Truth, Gottheimer said, needs to be the greatest influence on the next generation of college students.

“When it’s time to stand up and speak out, like we’re seeing on college campuses, we need to make sure they know what actually happened, and don’t follow along just because someone else is screaming and yelling something incendiary,” he said.

“That’s the reality we’re facing across our country right now.”

It’s a reality that is impacting many communities, creating many alliances for truth, Gottheimer said.

“It’s about making sure that we, as a community, stick together, stand up and make sure that everybody understands what this is about: hate,” he said. “It’s about standing up to all forms of hate, whether it’s antisemitism or Islamophobia.

“We need to stand up and speak out and say, ‘Not in Jersey.’”