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Reid's New Foe: Anti-Semitism

A visitor walks by a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following the shooting in Pittsburgh.
Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

A visitor walks by a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following the shooting in Pittsburgh.

Former Sen. Harry Reid has a new foe: anti-Semitism.

The famously combative Reid, who boxed as a young man and often feuded with political foes, says a rise in anti-Semitism deserves a push back.

“Combating anti-Semitism, injustice and hate is one of the most important causes of our time, and this conversation couldn’t come at a more critical moment in our nation’s history,” Reid said.

He and the Boyd School of Law at UNLV are hosting a forum today that will hear from Reid; Emory University Professor Deborah Lipstadt, an expert on Jewish history; and Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor for the New York Times and author of a book on combatting anti-Semitism.

Reid told KNPR's State of Nevada that as a politician in Nevada and Washington, D.C., he never really saw outward signs of anti-Semitism over the years, until more recently.

“Then suddenly worldwide and in America, it is just on the rise,” he said.

Reid himself witnessed hate speech against a friend from the Senate when Bernie Sanders came to Southern Nevada.

“Bernie Sanders comes to my home. He leaves my home to give a speech in Henderson, nice crowd, right in front of him is a big sign – Bernie with a swastika. It was just something I felt I needed to speak out on.”

The Anti-Defamation League says attacks on Jewish people and institutions were up 57 percent in 2017.

Reid can't say why there's been a rise in attacks and hate speech against Jews but he believes everyone needs to be involved in stopping it.

“I’ve concluded one of the main problems we have is people don’t speak out against hate,” he said. 

Reid said people need to speak out against anti-Semitism whether they're with a group of friends and family or at a ballgame with complete strangers.

“I think we have to let people know we don’t stand for this terrible, terrible jargon that has become anti-Semitic," he said.

The program, Anti-Semitism in America, is at capacity and no additional tickets are available.

Reid also told State of Nevada that his pancreatic cancer is in remission and he’s regaining strength lost during treatment.

Harry Reid, former Senate majority leader

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.