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Daily Herald: A call for an end to hate

By Scott Britton Guest columnist

It was just a month ago that Cook County commissioners gathered in the Cook County building to celebrate new beginnings and the strength that comes from our diversity as we shared good food and laughter. Specifically, we recognized the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, a time when those of the Jewish faith forgive the bitterness of life deeply and celebrate the sweetness of life joyfully.

When we met for our celebration, we talked about how this county has worked to reject hate in all its forms. Whether that be antisemitism, racism, bigotry, islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia, anti-Asian hate, misogyny or any of the other ugly faces of our common humanity.

Little could we have imagined that just a few weeks later, the Jewish people would have suffered the greatest loss of life since the Holocaust. On Oct. 7, we witnessed hate manifest itself in the attack by Hamas against men, women and children in Israel. Terrorists murdered young people at a music festival enjoying life in celebration of another Jewish holiday.

We saw grandparents murdered in front of their grandchildren and the heart-wrenching images of babies killed in their beds. While we are thankful for the release of two Cook County hostages, we pray for the release of all.

We need not travel across the globe to witness unspeakable violence. We have also experienced this hate in our own back yard with the murder in Plainfield as a young boy was stabbed 26 times and whose only crime was that he was Muslim and Palestinian. My heart also breaks for his mother, who is still in recovery from that horrific attack.

Life is precious and we feel for all those suffering in Israel and Gaza. We can and must hold more than one truth in our minds as we witness the horrors of war. Palestinian people have a right to live in peace and to thrive. And there can be no accommodation in a just world for terrorism.

I am reminded of a phrase I have heard so many times, as the Jewish people have endured repeated attempts at their literal extermination. Never again. Never again.

In my faith tradition, we use the word Pacem meaning peace, in Arabic Salaam, in Hebrew Shalom. We pray for peace not just in the Middle East but in Ukraine, the Central African Republic, Somalia, the Sahel, Syria, Myanmar and in our own communities and on our own streets.

We must continue to reject hate in all its forms and strive for a more peaceful world. I urge everyone to educate themselves at and be proactive in creating a more empathetic, understanding and kind community for all.

I have heard another phrase many times repeated throughout our county over the last several days, including in the many meetings I have attended at synagogues and conversations I have shared with so many of my Jewish neighbors. It is simply: Am Israel chai.

The Jewish people live.

• Scott Britton, a Democrat from Glenview, is Cook County commissioner for the 14th District.


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