Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen
Church in Ocean Park 

Local Christian Clergy Call-out Anti-Semitism on Facebook in Local Elections

Local Facebook group allegedly contains "explicitly antisemitic posts, addressed toward an LA rabbi and a local Jewish family"


October 27, 2016

The Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council (SMAIC) and community continue to struggle together toward the day when every person is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual identity, creed, color, ability, religion, age, culture, gender or gender expression. As members of the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council, we recognize that election seasons bring our differences into sharp focus. We celebrate healthy, robust debate that helps advance our understanding of the decisions voters are asked to make. Passionate disagreement is a hallmark of our constitutional democracy. We draw the line, however, at racism, xenophobia, misogyny, antisemitism, and other forms of intolerance. Such expressions of hate have no place in Santa Monica – or anywhere else. Nor does the implication that the only "real" residents are those who have lived here for a certain period of time.

It has come to our attention that a Santa Monica-focused Facebook group recently became the forum for a series of explicitly antisemitic posts, addressed toward a Los Angeles-area rabbi and a local Jewish family. Comments included offensive allegations that they are "part of the same cabal," suggestions about connections between Jews & banking and Jews & power, allegations about the Torah, and suggestions that Jews are "maggots" and "bred for such logistics." Just as disturbing to us is that these posts have stayed up without comment or criticism by other members of the group in question. These posts are unacceptable in any forum and we condemn them-and the silence that has surrounded them-without equivocation. We call upon all Santa Monicans to do the same.

The election is only a few weeks away. Emotions are running high and people in entrenched camps are demonizing one another. To be clear, the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council has not taken a position on anything that is on the ballot. This letter is not about defending one "side" or the other. We strongly believe that there is no place for this kind of behavior, no matter which initiatives you support or oppose. We believe that this community can and must do better. We call on the members of this community to engage with one another in an attitude of dignity and respect for all people.


Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen, Senior Pastor, Church in Ocean Park, Santa Monica

Rev Eric C. Shafer, Senior Pastor, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Santa Monica

Amir Hussain, Muslim, Professor of Theological Studies at LMU

Dennis Hardwick, Chair, JustFaith Peace and Justice Ministry, St. Monica Catholic Church

Omar Haroon, Muezzin and former Vice Chair of Islamic Center of Southern California

The Rev. Nathan A. Rugh, Rector, St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

Rev. Rebecca Benefiel Bijur, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Community Church, Santa Monica

Jamshid Ashourian, member, Baha'i Community of Santa Monica

Dr. Bill Wood, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica

Ann Miks, Member, Soka Gakkai International - USA – Buddhist

Vicar Sharon M. Ruff Richter, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Santa Monica

Rev. Amy Rosenbaum, United Methodist Clergy, retired, hospice chaplain

Curtis Raynor, clerk of Peace and Social Action committee, Santa Monica Quaker Meeting

Mahomed A Khan, Director Interfaith and outreach, King Fahad Mosque

Rev. Jim Conn, United Methodist Clergy, retired, former mayor, Santa Monica

Rev. James E. Boline, Pastor, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Santa Monica

Theresa Bonpane, Founder, Office of the Americas

Blase Bonpane, Executive Director, Office of the Americas

Nathaniel Trives, Member, Calvary Baptist, former mayor, Santa Monica

Darya Jones, Orthdox Christian, member, Church in Ocean Park

Sue Schuerman, Unity of the Westside in Culver City

Andre van Zijl and Debrah Friedland vanZyl, All Paths Divinity School, Interfaith Ministers

Rev. Herman Kemp (Baptist), Chaplain, Veteran's Administration

Jeremy Iversen, Baha'i Community of Santa Monica

Joanne Berlin, United Methodist Clergy, Committee for Racial Justice

Bonnie Johnstone, Interfaith, member, Church in Ocean Park

Please note the updated list of 27 signers, including a signatory from St. Monica Catholic Church. It is important to us to point out as well that Jewish congregational and communal leaders were not invited to sign this letter because when antisemitism is expressed in our community it is up to the rest of us to call it out.

Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen

Minister, Church in Ocean Park


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