Quick Takes

Beshear creates antisemitism task force

By: - December 21, 2023 2:32 pm

An Israeli tank near the border with Gaza, Nov. 28, 2023. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Citing a rise in antisemitism and threats at synagogues across Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear announced he is establishing a task force in response. 

The task force will be under the Governor’s Office of Faith Based & Community Initiatives and will have duties such as reviewing the state of antisemitism in Kentucky, assessing Holocaust education and advising on training programs about hate crimes for law enforcement officers. 

“The Kentucky Antisemitism Task Force will help guide this administration and our entire commonwealth and make sure we’re getting it right, that everyone in our commonwealth is treated like the child of God, the human being that they are,” Beshear said. “With the task force, we are letting Kentuckians of all faiths, who may be hurting during this time say that, ‘We see you and we will keep fighting against hate.’”

Since a Hamas attack on Israel in October ignited war in the Gaza Strip, antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents have increased across the U.S.

Beshear, who was met with chants from dozens of Palestine supporters during campaign stops last month at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, denounced all forms of hate on Thursday — including racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia. 

The task force includes public officials, religious leaders, community leaders and Lexington and Louisville police chiefs who are ex-officio members. 

Beshear recalled an incident in which Manual High School’s student publication Redeye uncovered a video produced for Kentucky State Police training that included an antisemitic symbol. 

“It’s so important that we have those that know, that experience it, that feel it, that can guide us and make sure that we’re not missing a thing,” Beshear said. “And that we get, whether it’s these training materials or our approach, that we get it right.”

Beshear thanked Rep. Daniel Grossberg, D-Louisville, for supporting the creation of the task force. State Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, said in a video clip during the press conference that “divisions can be used to weaken our society and turn people against each other.” Both lawmakers are Jewish. 

The Kentucky Human Rights Commission had urged creation of an antisemitism task force, reports WUKY.

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.