How many of us have had experiences that made us say those words when we were sharing the incident with other people? I’ll bet it’s a lot. Sometimes, they’re good movies: “I just closed the biggest deal of my career!” Sometimes, they’re bad movies: “My car got broadsided and tipped over!” Last week, I had an experience that felt like I was in a movie. Unfortunately, it was a bad one. Actually, it was a horror movie.
I live on the Upper East Side of New York City and I was running an errand. As I approached the corner of 75th Street and Second Avenue, an appalling sight stopped me in my tracks. The 2nd Ave Deli had a Swastika painted on its window.
Seeing a Swastika drawn on the window of a Jewish-owned business is a sickening sight. It is a reminder of the hatred and bigotry that still exists in our world, and it is a direct attack on the Jewish community. It is a deeply disturbing and hurtful act to anyone with an ounce of empathy for other human beings. It is a reminder that racism and anti-semitism are still alive and well, and that many minority groups are still targets of hate and violence.
It is an attack on our democracy. Our democracy is based on the principles of tolerance, respect, and inclusion. When a Swastika is drawn on the window of a Jewish-owned business, it is an attack on those principles. The situation going on in Israel and the Gaza Strip is a complex one. But one thing is simple: We must stand together against all forms of hatred and bigotry.
Last week in Las Vega, IMEX America, the largest meetings and events trade show in North America, planned one minute of silence during the show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino for the almost 15,000 buyers and exhibitors. It’s fitting for this group to stand up for tolerance because as show Chairman Ray Bloom and CEO Carina Bauer stated in a letter to the attendees: “The business events industry is one that is predicated on peace, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe that bringing people together and building better human connections is the only way to foster understanding and empathy in the world and remind ourselves of our duty to drive positive change through the work we all do.”
Everyone who works in the meetings and events industry can take pride in the role their work plays driving that change that Ray and Carina mentioned. In fact, all business activity does that in one way or another. I took the photo of The 2nd Ave Deli that accompanies this story. The Swastika had already been removed and replaced with the flags of Israel and the United States.
But there is one thing the photo doesn’t show. Three storefronts away from the Deli is a small grocery store. The owners of the store are Palestinian immigrants. I guess that’s the kind of ironic coincidence that only happens in New York. These two businesses have existed harmoniously, practically alongside each other for many years. I know because I’m a customer of both establishments. Perhaps someday the rest of the world will follow their example.
Now, that’s a movie I’d like to feel like I was in.
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