By Rich Pollack
Responding in part to an incident where anti-Semitic words and gestures were aimed at an out-of-town visitor, town commissioners last month unanimously passed a resolution denouncing “hateful acts of intolerance.”
Championed by departing Mayor Rhoda Zelniker, the resolution reaffirms Highland Beach’s position in condemning anti-Semitism as well as any other form of bigotry and hate.
“We need to let the public know that this town will not tolerate racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism,” Zelniker said.
The resolution spells out the town’s dedication to condemning acts of hate against members of the Jewish community and others who are targeted for their differences.
“The town of Highland Beach takes pride in its democracy, enriched by people of differing religions, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, ages and places of birth and origin,” the resolution states.
Town Manager Marshall Labadie said the resolution strengthens and renews the position Highland Beach has always held against intolerance.
“It’s important from time to time for a community to reinforce its commitment to zero tolerance for racism, bigotry and hatred,” he said.
The resolution says the town will work with all law enforcement agencies to “apprehend any individual” who threatens the safety of the community.
Zelniker urged residents to speak out against racism and anti-Semitism and to call the authorities if they witness hateful acts.
The resolution also calls upon political, civic and religious organizations to denounce “forms of hate against people because of their differences.”
Highland Beach police are investigating an incident recorded on video several months ago in which a visitor riding a personal watercraft along the Intracoastal Waterway was on the receiving end of anti-Semitic comments and gestures from someone on shore.
“It needs to be publicly stated in this community that we will not tolerate violent acts or words against any people,” Commissioner Peggy Gossett-Seidman said.