David Bernstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), speaks in an interview with Xinhua in New York, the United States, Feb. 25, 2020. The Jewish community in the United States will support the Chinese community amid misguided fears surrounding the disease caused by the novel coronavirus called COVID-19, helping them fight against scapegoating and xenophobia, the leader of a renowned Jewish organization said here on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Guo Peiran)
NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Jewish community in the United States will support the Chinese community amid misguided fears surrounding the disease caused by the novel coronavirus called COVID-19, helping them fight against scapegoating and xenophobia, a leader of a renowned Jewish organization said here on Tuesday.
"When our friends are facing tough times, we want to be there for them," David Bernstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), told Xinhua in an interview.
Bernstein said that supportive activities from the Jewish community are spreading across the nation.
"In Boston, there are many Jews right now who are shopping in Chinatown and visiting Chinatown," he said.
Chinese and Jewish people have a variety of shared values and "there's a very close tie naturally between the two communities," he said. "So it's natural when one of us feels targeted, the other is there to support."
Concerned about rising xenophobia in the United States and abroad over the spread of COVID-19, the JCPA has issued an open letter to voice support for the Chinese American and Chinese communities.
"We are writing to express our heartfelt solidarity with you during these tense and troubling times," the JCPA letter read. "We know that in such times, concern can quickly turn into hysteria, which can lead to scapegoating."
"We pledge to help ensure that Chinese people feel safe and supported, and to combat attacks and stereotyping on social media," read the letter, which has been co-signed by 75 Jewish groups in the United States so far.
By issuing this letter, the JCPA wants to "help let people know that it is unfair to scapegoat Chinese people for this disease" and make sure that people "don't get engaged in bigotry and ugliness toward Chinese and Chinese Americans," said Bernstein.
Bernstein is deeply concerned about the misinformation about COVID-19 and hostility toward Chinese people circulating on social media as "somebody or few people can start a meme on Twitter and that becomes a major problem."
The JCPA will closely monitor social media platforms and "send out tweets ourselves," he said. "We're going to have a Twitter campaign. We are going to get other people to show their support."
Bernstein also hopes the letter provides an opportunity to build an even stronger relationship between the Chinese and Jewish communities.
"We use this as an opportunity not only to show our solidarity but to show our long-lasting friendship and ... to explore how we can work together as Jews and Chinese to make America a better place and to make the world a better place," he added.
Founded in 1944, the JCPA is an umbrella organization representing 125 local Jewish community relations councils and 17 national Jewish agencies.