We have received reports over the past few weeks that two mayoral candidates in Hilton Head have made statements denying the Holocaust or admiring its perpetrator, Adolf Hitler. This news is concerning to us as an organization, as a Jewish community and as citizens of the Lowcountry.

The Holocaust happened. It is an undeniable, thoroughly documented and an indisputable fact. While anti-Semitism is not a new phenomenon, we are seeing it increasingly expressed in public politics. A quick internet search of “anti-Semitic candidate” will reveal a seemingly endless list of candidates for public office, all declaring their anti-Semitism in public forums, whether boldly or subtly.

Whatever their chances of being elected to public office may be, these candidates are speaking to an increasingly bold and public minority of our country who subscribe to this abhorrent rhetoric.

Mainstream anti-Semitism and racism is a terrifying specter to all minorities in America, and should be a terrifying specter to anyone who supports the ideals that have made our country great.

As a part of the Charleston Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Relations Committee is vigilant in our battle against anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance. We have been in contact with Jewish leadership on the ground in Hilton Head regarding the hateful rhetoric emerging from their local mayoral race, connecting them to national resources and offering our own resources and support as they confront this hate in their backyard.

We also will continue our work through our Remember Program for Holocaust Education and Genocide Awareness, as the most impactful method of combatting ignorance is education. This program works year-round to educate about the atrocities of the Holocaust, to promote the concept of mutual respect for all peoples, to create goodwill and build community among all ethnicities in Charleston, and to inspire people to take a stand for what is right. To learn more or get involved, please contact Rebecca Engel at RebeccaL@jewishcharleston.org.

Just three years ago, our Charleston community suffered a horrific loss at the hands of a young man steeped in the ideology of racism and anti-Semitism.

As a community made up of different religions, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs, we stood in solidarity to reject the hateful beliefs that drove Dylann Roof to murder our neighbors at Emanuel AME Church.

We thank our neighbors for their continued support as we continue to stand arm-in-arm to reject hateful ideology wherever and whenever it finds a public voice.

Ilene Turbow

Charleston Jewish Federation

Chair, Jewish Community Relations Committee of Greater Charleston

Co-Chair, REMEMBER Program for Holocaust Education and Genocide Awareness

Croghan Spur Road

Charleston