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Rising Anti-Semitism Is 'Canary In A Coal Mine' For Other Communities

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Courtesy of Holocaust & Humanity Center
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Attendees of the Driving Out Darkness conference will tour the Holocaust and Humanity Center at Union Terminal.

A conference at Union Terminal Tuesday aims to teach people about anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. "Driving Out Darkness" explores tactics for combating racism, bigotry and prejudice.

The latest figures from the FBI show the number of hate crimes increased from 2016 to 2017. The number of anti-Semitic incidents climbed from 684 to 938.

Jewish Community Relations Council Director Jackie Congedo says there's a rising tide of hate crimes in the U.S.

"People who have hatred and who want to be hateful toward anyone are relying on them retreating into their own communities, turning inward, keeping quiet. We have to push against that trend, and despite all the external pressures I think many communities feel we have to be intentional about reaching out."

Congedo says while the conference is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, there are more than 40 co-sponsor organizations from religious, educational, civic and governmental sectors. She says non-Jewish groups should be paying attention when hate crimes increase.

"We need to pay attention when we see anti-Semitism rising because it's foundational in terms of the way many hate groups operate. So when we see that bubbling up, it's sort of a canary in a coal mine indicator to other communities that things are changing and not for the better."

Congedo says the conference has a lot of allies and other interested parties.

"We have people speaking about how to best protect vulnerable communities from the law enforcement/prosecutorial standpoint. We have people speaking about covering hate in the digital age, journalists who are on the front lines, and helping teachers understand how to create diverse, safe learning environments."

Congedo says while combating hatred can seem like an impossible task, the conference should show it isn't.