METROFOCUS: April 8, 2021

Cannabis is now legal in New York State. As of March 31st, it became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana in America. But New York’s path to legalization differs from other states in how it prioritizes social equity as one of its main goals. Under the new law, forty percent of the revenue from cannabis will be steered towards minority communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs. And with an estimated tax revenue of $350 million a year, that could make a big difference to those communities. Tonight, in conjunction with our Chasing the Dream Initiative Assembly Majority Leader, Crystal Peoples-Stokes who was one of the two main sponsors behind the new legislation and fought for seven years for the bill’s passage joins us to discuss the social justice that legal pot can bring to New York.

Tonight, on the Holocaust Remembrance Day, the New York city based Claims Conference unveils a global campaign led by survivors from across the city and the world to spotlight how the Holocaust began with words before actions and the creation of camps. In conjunction with our Exploring Hate Initiative Gideon Taylor, president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who led the ADL for nearly three decades and is currently the National Director of Holocaust Initiatives at the Met Council join us to educate the tri-state after their recent survey found that despite being home to a large Jewish population, New York has some of the lowest knowledge of the Holocaust.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, AND THE DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

AFTER A YEARS-LONG SAGA, LEGAL POT IS NOW A REALITY IN NEW YORK STATE.

ON MARCH 31st, GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNED INTO LAW A HISTORIC BILL THAT MAKES NEW YORK THE 15th STATE TO LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.

NEW YORK'S PATH TO LEGALIZATION DIFFERS FROM OTHER STATES.

UNDER THE NEW LAW 40% OF THE REVENUE WILL BE STEERED TOWARD MINORITY COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE BEEN HISTORICALLY NEGATIVELY IMPACTED BY THE WAR ON DRUGS.

WITH THE ESTIMATED TAX REVENUE AT $350 MILLION A YEAR, THAT COULD MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES.

STILL, IT COULD TAKE MANY MONTHS IF NOT LONGER FOR NEW YORKERS TO SEE THE FIRST LEGAL SALES OF MARIJUANA AS THE SYSTEM IS SET UP.

JOINING US IS ASSEMBLY MAJORITY LEADER CRYSTAL PEOPLES-STOKES.

SHE FOUGHT LONG AND HARD FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE BILL AS WELL AS THE SOCIAL JUSTICE PROVISIONS THAT IT INCLUDES.

WELCOME.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S MY PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

IT'S A GREAT TOPIC.

ABSOLUTELY.

I THINK ONE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CLOSELY FOLLOWING AND WAITING FOR.

FIRST, I WANT YOU TO TALK TO US ABOUT HOW NEW YORK'S LEGALIZATION IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER STATES.

IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE OTHER 14 STATES, THE PRINCIPAL REASON WHY THEY WANTED TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA WAS TO GET ACCESS TO THE REVENUE.

IN NEW YORK CITY WE WANT TO BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT THE EQUITY BECAUSE THE MULTIPLE GENERATIONS OF OUR PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN INCARCERATED OVER DECADES HAS IMPACTED THE COMMUNITIES WHERE OUR PEOPLE LIVE IS JUST UNPRECEDENTED.

THEY HAVE PREDATORY BUSINESSES AND THE INFRASTRUCTURE IS IN POOR SHAPE, THE HOUSES ARE IN BLIGHTED CONDITION.

THE CHILDREN NEED SO, SO, SO MUCH.

WE LOOKED AT IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO IDENTIFY AND GET RESOURCES THAT CAN BE REINVESTING IN THE LIVES OF THESE PEOPLE AND THEIR COMMUNITIES.

WE TACK AN EQUITY PERSPECTIVE FIRST AND A REVENUE PERSPECTIVE SECOND.

EQUITY NOT ONLY PLAYS OUT IN THE 40% REIMBURSEMENT INTO THE COMMUNITIES, BUT IT ALSO PLAYS OUT AS A COMMITMENT TO A GOAL OF 50% EQUITY BUSINESSES FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR THAT HAD BEEN DISENFRANCHISED AS A RESULT OF MASS INCARCERATION, DISABLED VETERANS AND DISTRESSED FARMERS.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT EQUITY INCLUS ION FOR BUSINESSE WE HAVE HEARD OTHER STATES WILL ALLOW THE FIRST LICENSES TO GOO TO MINORITY OR WOMEN OWNED BUSINESSES.

I'M WONDERING HOW IS THAT ENFORCED BECAUSE SO MANY OF THE NOW SOCIAL ILLS THAT PLAGUE HISTOR HISTORICALLY WORKING CLASS POOR IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND LATINO COMMUNITIES ARE MULTILAYERED AND THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF THINGS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED AND CHANGED.

CAN THIS BILL REALLY GET THAT TRAIN GOING, IF YOU WILL?

I THINK SO.

THERE'S A BRAND NEW AGENCY FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

THERE'S A FIVE-MEMBER BOARD, THREE OF WHICH THE GOVERNOR RECOMMENDS AND THE SENATE RECOMMENDS A MEMBERER AS WELL.

THERE'S ALSO AN ADVISORY BOARD AND A CHIEF EQUITY OFFICER, WHOSE JOB IT WILL BE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE EQUITY GOES AS LAID OUT IN LEGISLATION ACTUALLY HAPPENS.

THE ADVISORY BOARD ARE PEOPLE WHO WILL FOCUS FROM A REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE.

THEIR FOCUS WILL BE ON HOW DO YOU GET IN CONTACT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN ANY OF THESE EQUITY OPPORTUNITIES, HOW DO YOU STAY IN CONTACT, HOW DO YOU HELP THEM GET READY AND MAKE SURE THEY GET ACCESS TO THE RESOURCES LAID OUT FOR THEM.

IT'S REAL CLEAR THAT THIS ADVISORY BOARD IS GOING TO BE THE KEY, BECAUSE THEY'RE GOING TO BE THE ONES TO MAKE SURE THAT THE EQUITY GOALS GET FOLLOWED.

13-MEMBER BOARD, SEVEN FROM THE GOVERNOR, THREE FROM THE ASSEMBLY AND TWO FROM THE SENATE.

NORMALLY WHEN STATE AGENCIES GET SET UP, IT'S JUST THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH THAT MANAGES.

NOW WE'RE INCLUDING THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH TO BE PART OF THE MANAGING AS WELL.

WE'RE THE ONES WHO ARE CLOSER TO THE PEOPLE, SO WE KNOW AND HEAR ON A REGULAR BASIS WHAT THEIR NEEDS ARE.

THEY CANNOT BE OVERLOOKED BECAUSE WE'RE AT THE TABLE IN EVERY AREA OF THE OFFICE OF CANNABIS MANAGEMENT.

I KNOW THE LEGISLATION HAS THE INTENTION OF ADDRESSING THE HARM CREATED BY THE WAR ON DRUGS.

I KNOW THERE'S A PLAN TO EXPUNGE RECORDS, BUT I'M WONDERING HOW DOES THAT TRICKLE DOWN TO POLICING IF THERE'S GOING TO BE A TIME IT'S GOING TO TAKE FOR THE LICENSES TO GET ISSUED, THE SYSTEM TO GET SET UP.

DOES THAT ALSO MEAN THAT THE CHANGES IN POLICING WILL ALSO TAKE TIME, OR WILL THOSE BE MORE IMMEDIATE WHERE MARIJUANA ISN'T A REASON TO STOP AND SEARCH SOMEONE?

ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE IMMEDIATE.

A LOT OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS INCLUDING MY OWN IN BUFFALO HAVE ALREADY SENT OUT MEMOS TO THE OFFICERS OF HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO AND HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN'T DO AS A RESULT OF THIS LEGISLATION THAT WAS PASSED.

YOU CANNOT SMOKE MARIJUANA IN YOUR CAR AND YOU CANNOT HAVE PASSENGERS SMOKING MARIJUANA MUCH LIKE YOU CANNOT HAVE AN OPEN CONTAINER OF ALCOHOL IN YOUR CAR WHILE YOU'RE DRIVING.

IT'S GOING TO MIRROR THE PROHIBITION OF ALCOHOL WHEN THAT FLIPPED.

OFFICERS ARE NOW GETTING THE TRAINING THEY NEED SO THEY UNDERSTAND.

QUITE HONESTLY, RESPONSIBLE ADULT CITIZENS SHOULD BE UNDERSTANDING THE LAW THEMSELVES TOO.

A LOT OF MY COLLEAGUES AND I SPENT TIME TALKING TO OUR PEOPLE ABOUT HERE'S WHAT THE LAW SAYS.

IT DOESN'T GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO WALK DOWN THE STREET ANYWHERE SMOKING MARIJUANA AS IF WE'RE IN THE WILD, WILD WEST.

IT SAYS IF YOU'RE A RESPONSIBLE 21-YEAR-OLD, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE 3 OUNCES OF MARIJUANA IN YOUR POSSESSION.

NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE, YOU CANNOT BE SMOKING IT IN A PLACE WHERE SMOKING IS ALREADY NOT ALLOWED.

IT'S GOING TO FOLLOW THE CLEAN AIR LAW.

MOST BEACHES IN NEW YORK YOU CAN'T SMOKE CIGARETTES, SO YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO SMOKE MARIJUANA THERE EITHER.

THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT HAPPEN DAY ONE AND THAT IS ONE OF THEM, THAT YOU ACTUALLY CAN HAVE THAT THREE OUNCES.

THE OTHER THING THAT HAPPENS DAY ONE IS THE OFFICE OF JUDGE SERVICES WILL BEGIN LOOKING THROUGH THEIR RECORDS AND BEGIN IDENTIFYING PEOPLE WHO WERE CONVICTS OF 3 OUNCES OR LESS AND EXPUNGING THEIR RECORDS, AUTOMATICALLY GETTING RID OF THEM.

ALSO LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL IN THE SYSTEM WHO MAY BE STILL INCARCERATED AND MOVING TO GET THEM VACATED, BECAUSE NOW THEY SHOULD NO LONGER BE INCARCERATED BASED ON HAVING 3 OUNCES OR LESS.

THOSE THINGS HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY.

IN MY DISTRICT ON THIS COMING SATURDAY WE HAVE A CLINIC EVERY LEGAL AGENCY IN THE WESTERN NEW YORK AREA IS PARTICIPATING.

ATTOR ATTORNEYS ARE GOING TO GET CREDITS FOR BEING THERE TALKING TO PEOPLE THAT COME IN AND WANT TO UNDERSTAND THIS EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS.

THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE TO DO FOR OUR PEOPLE NOW.

YES, THE STATE AGENCY HAS SOME RESPONSIBILITIES, BUT AS LEGISLATURES WE HAVE SOME RESPONSIBILITIES TO MAKE SURE WE GET THE INFORMATION TO THEM IN THE RIGHT WAY SO THEY CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.

WELL, THAT DEFINITELY ANSWERS WHAT WAS GOING TO BE MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION.

DOWN IN NEW YORK CITY, OUR POLICE COMMISSIONER DER MOTT SHEA HAD INDICATED HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES FROM SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES.

BASED ON WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, THAT'S NOT PART OF THE LEGISLATION.

THAT DOES NOT BECOME SLLEGAL.

SO THAT MAKES THE CONCER THAT HE VOICED AT LEAST PRIOR TO TODAY NOT AN ISSUE, AM I CORRECT?

RIGHT.

ALL OF THE CLEAN AIR LAWS AND REGULATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT IN PLACE FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS ABOUT CIGARETTE SMOKING, THEY APPLY TO MARIJUANA.

I'M NOT SURE IF THE POLICE COMMISSIONER HAS HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT YET, BUT I DO KNOW THERE ARE SOME VERY SKILLED PEOPLE ON THIS ISSUE IN NEW YORK CITY WHO I'M SURE COULD PASS IT ONTO HIM SO THAT HE COULD UNDERSTAND.

FOR CLARIFICATION.

BUT I ALSO WANTED TO JUST TALK ABOUT THE TIMING OF THIS LEGISLATION.

NOW, THIS IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING ON AND PUSHING FOR FOR YEARS AND YEARS.

HOWEVER, GOVERNOR CUOMO, WHO HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN A ROADBLOCK TO THIS LEGISLATION, FINALLY DECIDED TO SIGN IT.

FIRST, I WANT TO GET YOUR TAKE ON HIS DECISION TO DO IT.

BUT SECOND OF ALL, I THINK THE TIMING OF HIS DECISION IS ALSO WORTH NOTING.

WELL, YOU'RE ACCURATE THAT HE HASN'T ALWAYS BEEN A SUPPORTER.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, HE FOUGHT TOOTH AND NAIL THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION PROCESS THAT WE WENT THROUGH FIVE YEARS AGO.

BUT IN THE LAST THREE YEARS HE ACTUALLY PUT HIS VERSION LEGALIZING ADULT USE MARIJUANA IN HIS BUDGET.

SO HE WAS THERE IN TERMS OF LEGALIZATION.

WHAT HE WASN'T THERE IS THE TERMS OF HOW TO RESOURCE.

HE WANTED ALL THE RESOURCES TO GO INTO THE EXISTING CENTRAL BUDGET AND TO BE DETERMINED BASED ON THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT.

I UNDERSTAND THAT'S WHY THAT'S WHAT EXECUTIVES DO.

THEY DO WANT TO CONTROL ALL THE PURSE PURSESTRINGS.

I GET IT.

BUT NO ONE SUFFERED LIKE BLACK PEOPLE DID UNDER THIS MASS INCARCERATION AND THIS THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT.

NOBODY SUFFERED LIKE THAT.

SO THERE SHOULD BE OPPORTUNITY FOR US.

AGAIN, WE INVEST IN OURSELVES.

I THINK THAT HAPPENED MORE THAN ANYTHING, A LOT OF PEOPLE WANT TO ATTRIBUTE THIS TO THE ISSUES THAT HE'S HAVING NOW WITH BEING ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT, NURSING HOME ISSUES.

I DON'T THINK THAT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT.

NOW, THIS IS JUST ME.

I THINK IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD.

PEOPLE ACROSS THE WORLD SAW THAT RACISM IS REAL AND IT'S BUILT INTO THE SYSTEMS THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO SERVE PEOPLE.

JUXTAPOSE THAT TO THE STRUCTURE DEFICIENCIES IN THE LIVES OF BLACK PEOPLE IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK INVEAS IT RELATES TO COVID.

EVERY SYSTEM THAT WE OPERATE HERE IS OPERATING FROM A ARABLE PERSPECTIVE.

I THINK THAT WAS EYE OPENING FOR NOT JUST THE GOVERNOR BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE ACROSS THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

ASSEMBLY MAJORITY LEADER CRYSTAL PEOPLES-STOKES, UNFORTUNATELY WE HAVE COME TO THE END OF OUR TIME TOGETHER.

I COULD CONTINUE TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THIS AND I HOPE WE GET ANOTHER CHANCE TO DO SO.

PLEASE COME BACK AND JOIN US.

I'LL BE HAPPY TO.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

HAVE A GREAT DAY AND STAY BLESSED.

YOU TOO.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL P. ROMAN.

FOR DECADES HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS HAVE PLEADED WITH THE WORLD TO NEVER FORGET.

SOME 6 MILLION JEWS WERE MURDERED DURING ONE OF THE MOST HORRIFIC ACTS OF GENOCIDE IN RECORDING HISTORY.

OVER 75 YEARS LATER, SURVIVORS ARE STILL REMEMBERING THOSE WHO WERE LOST AND STILL FIGHTING TO ENSURE THAT HISTORY DOES NOT REPEAT ITSELF.

WE COMMEMORATE HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY BY SPOTLIGHTING A NEW EDUCATION CAMPAIGN CALLED 'IT STARTED WITH WORDS.'

HERE'S A LOOK.

IT ENDED UP WITH THE GAS CHAMBERS.

IT STARTED WITH WORDS.

THE HOLOCAUST STARTED WITH WORDS.

THE GAS CHAMBERS IN AUSCHWITZ AND ELSEWHERE DID NOT BEGIN THE BRICKS.

THEY BEGAN WITH WORDS.

HATEFUL WORDS, ANTI-SEMITIC WORDS.

THEY WERE WORDS LIKE DIRTY JEW AND THEN THREATS, WE WILL ELIMINATE YOU ALL.

THEY CALLED US DIRTY JEW BECAUSE THEY CONSIDERED US SUBHUMAN.

THE POPULATION TURNED AGAINST US.

THE HOLOCAUST STARTED WITH WORDS.

IT STARTED WITH WORDS.

THE HOLOCAUST STARTED WITH THREATS AND WORDS.

I'M REMINDED OF IT EVERY DAY, BECAUSE WHEN I TAKE A SHOWER IN THE MORNING, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGET.

IN OUR TRADITION WE KNOW THAT WORDS CAN KILL.

JOINING US NOW AS PART OF OUR EXPLORING HATE INITIATIVE ON THE INTERSECTION OF ANTI-SEMITIC RACISM AND EXTREMISM IN AMERICA ARE GIDEON TAYLOR, PRESIDENT OF THE NONPROFIT CONFERENCE ON JEWISH MATERIAL CLAIMS, WHICH COORDINATED THE NEW EDUCATION CAMPAIGN.

AND NATE FOXMAN, WHO LED THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE FOR NEARLY THREE DECADES AND IS NOW THE NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF HOLOCAUST INITIATE IIVES AT THET COUNCIL.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

GIDEON, TALK ABOUT 'IT STARTED WITH WORDS.'

TALK ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN AND WHY AND HOW IT GOT STARTED.

FOR US, WE'VE SEEN FROM STUDIES THAT WE HAVE DONE THAT AS TIME HAS PASSED SINCE THE HOLOCAUST, THERE IS LESS AND LESS UNDERSTANDING, PARTICULARLY BY A YOUNGER GENERATION, OF WHAT HAPPENED.

THERE IS UNFORTUNATELY FEWER AND FEWER HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS TO TELL THE STORIES WITH THEIR OWN WORDS.

THAT'S WHAT LED US TO START THIS CAMPAIGN TO GIVE SURVIVES A VOICE, TO AMPLIFY THAT VOICE, TO EXPLAIN NOT JUST WHAT HAPPENED BUT HOW IT HAPPENED, HOW IT STARTED.

THE CAMPAIGN DESCRIPTION KIND OF SAYS IT ALL.

IT DIDN'T START WITH CONCENTRATION CAMPS AND GHETTOS AND DEPORTATIONS.

IT STARTED WITH SMALL THINGS, WITH WORDS.

THAT'S A MESSAGE THAT WE WANTED TO GET ACROSS.

BY THE WAY, SOMETHING ELSE THAT YOU DID LAST FALL WAS A 50-STATE SURVEY THAT I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GET INVOLVED IN THIS CAMPAIGN TO THE POINT THAT YOU'RE ONE OF THE PARTICIPANT SURVIVORS IN THE VIDEOS OF THE CAMPAIGN.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO RAISE AN ISSUE.

JEWISH TRADITION TEACHES US THAT LIFE AND DEATH IS IN THE POWER OF THE TONGUE.

MOST JEWS WHO PLAY THREE TIMES A DAY ASK THE ALMIGHTY TO HELP THEM SPEAK NO EVIL.

WE ASK FOR FORGIVENESS FOR ATONEMENT BECAUSE OF THINGS THAT CAME OUT OF OUR MOUTHS.

I'M A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR.

I UNDERSTAND WHAT WORDS CAN DO.

I ALSO UNDERSTAND WHAT DEEDS CAN DO.

I SURVIVED NOT BECAUSE OF WORDS, BUT BECAUSE OF DEEDS.

TO RAISE MY VOICE AS A SURVIVOR WITH A LEVEL OF CREDIBILITY, I SAID ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY.

GIDEON, THIS CAMPAIGN IS GOING TO BE MOSTLY CARRIED OUT THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.

IS THAT RIGHT, AND IF SO, WHY?

WE'VE SEEN JUST LIKE THE WORLD HAS CHANGED IN TERMS OF HOW PEOPLE CONSUME INFORMATION, PARTICULARLY OF A YOUNGER GENERATION, IT IS ABOUT WHAT UNDERSTANDING IN THE HOLOCAUST.

MORE AND MORE COMMUNICATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IS FELT AND LEARNED THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.

WE WANT TO GET THAT MESSAGE ACROSS AND WE WANT THOSE VOICES HEARD.

WE HAVE TO MEET PEOPLE IN A PLACE WHERE THEY EXIST, WHERE THEY HEAR THINGS AND WHERE THEY LEARN ABOUT HISTORY AND ABOUT ACTIONS AND WHAT'S IMPORTANT.

THAT'S WHY WE CHOSE SOCIAL MEDIA AS THE VENUE TO GET THIS MESSAGE ACROSS, FOR PEOPLE TO HEAR IT AND UNDERSTAND IT.

SOCIAL MEDIA, THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT.

THE INTERNET IS BOTH THINGS.

ON ONE HAND, IT'S A PLATFORM FOR EDUCATION, INFORMATION, INTERACTION.

AT THE SAME TIME IT'S ALSO A SUPER HIGHWAY FOR BIGOTRY AND PREJUDICE.

TODAY IN NANO SECONDS YOU COULD COMMUNICATE WORDS OF HATE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA IN WAYS THAT WE COULD HAVE NEVER IMAGINED.

TO BE ABLE TO DO A CAMPAIGN WHICH EXPOSES THE EVIL OF EVIL WORDS AND WHAT THEY CAN DO, IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO DO IT ON A PLATFORM WHERE THE BIGOTRY ALSO IS THERE AND THERE IN HEAVY DOSES.

ABE, LET ME ASK YOU THIS.

WHAT THE CAMPAIGN DOES OBVIOUSLY SO WELL IS MAKE THE CONNECTION, SHOW THE LINK BETWEEN HATEFUL WORDS AND HATEFUL DEEDS.

UNLESS THE HATEFUL WORDS ARE STO STOPPED, THEY WILL LEAD TO HATEFUL DEEDS.

THAT MADE ME THINK.

THE GERMANS THAT SUPPORTED THE NAZIS, THEY DIDN'T JUST WAKE UP ONE DAY AND START SPOUTING HATEFUL WORDS.

WHAT LED TO THE WORDS?

OR IS THAT TOO BIG A QUESTION?

GIDEON.

IF WE KNEW THE ANSWER WHAT CAUSES HATE, WE'D FIND THE ANTIDOTE.

WE HAVE IT.

NO, BUT IT DOES START WITH WORDS.

AS I SAID, THE GAS CHAMBERS, WHY DO YOU NEED GAS CHAMBERS?

IF THERE ARE PEOPLE YOU HATE AND WANT TO EXTERMINATE, YOU'VE GOT TO FIND A WAY TO DO IT.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I WOULD SAY WHILE WORDS ARE THE BEGINNING, DEEDS ARE WHAT'S WORSE.

BUT THERE'S ANOTHER MESSAGE FROM THE HOLOCAUST.

IT'S A VERY PERSONAL MESSAGE.

I'M SITTING HERE TONIGHT WITH YOU BECAUSE 75-80 YEARS AGO THERE WAS A WOMAN WHO COULD BARELY READ AND WRITE WHO STOOD UP TO SAY NO.

SHE STOOD UP TO SAVE ANOTHER LIFE.

THAT'S ANOTHER MESSAGE FROM THE HOLOCAUST.

I DID A LOT OF STUDYING TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT I SURVIVED.

I LEARNED WHENEVER AND HOWEVER GOOD PEOPLE STOOD UP TO SAY NO, JEWS LIVED, GAYS LIVED, CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP LIVED.

THERE WAS ONE WHO SAVED A THOUSAND IJEWS.

WE MAKE FUN OF THE BALKANS, BUT THE BULGARIANS SAVED ALL THEIR JEWS.

THE ALBANIANS SAVED ALL THEIR JEWS BECAUSE THEY STOOD UP AND SAID NO.

S SADLY, IN OUR COMMUNITY, OUR COUNTRY WOULD COMMIT TO TAKE JEWISH REFUGEES.

THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SAID, YES, WE'LL TAKE 40,000.

THERE IS ANOTHER LESSON, THAT PEOPLE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, A DIFFERENCE THAT CAN SAVE LIVES.

GIDEON, WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THIS CAMPAIGN?

IF THE MESSAGE THAT ABE JUST SENT OUT IS WHAT THIS CAMPAIGN ACCOMPLISHES, THAT'S A BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT.

I THINK WHAT WE WANT IS PEOPLE TO STOP AND THINK, JUST TO THINK, TO PAUSE.

OF ALL THAT FLURRY OF INFORMATION AND MATERIAL THAT COMES AND THE KNOWLEDGE AND AWARENESS AND ALL OF THE FACTS, JUST STOP TO THINK ABOUT HOW DOES IT START AND HOW CAN THESE THINGS BEGIN.

YOU WOULD HOPE THAT WILL ENABLE PEOPLE TO DRAW A LINE, DRAW A LINK BETWEEN WHAT IS BEING SAID AND WHAT CAN HAPPEN.

IF IT GIVES PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PAUSE AND SAY, I HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT THAT AND THAT IS SOMETHING I HAVEN'T REALLY GIVEN THOUGHT TO, THEN I THINK WE'LL HAVE SUCCEEDED.

GIDEON, GOING BACK TO THAT SURVEY THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION CONDUCTED OF ALL 50 STATES LAST FALL OF HOLOCAUST KNOWLEDGE AMONG YOUNG AMERICANS MOSTLY, MILLENNIALS AND GENERATION Z, WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING THAT CAME OUT OF THAT SURVEY FOR YOU?

I THINK FOR ME IT WAS THAT ABOUT HALF OF THE MILLENNIALS COULD NOT NAME ONE CONCENTRATION CAMP OR GHETTO.

FOR MY GENERATION AND I THINK FOR ALL OUR GENERATIONS, THE NAME AUSCHWITZ SYMBOLIZES THE ULTIMATE IN HUMAN DEPRAVITY.

IT'S AN ICON OF HATRED AND HO HORROR.

THE NAME AUSCHWITZ WAS PART OF THE COMMON DISCOURSE THAT EVERYONE UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANT.

WE'RE NOW IN A WORLD WHERE THE WORD AUSCHWITZ FOR A GENERATION, THAT HALF OF THAT YOUNGER GENERATION IT DOESN'T RING A BELL, IT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING TO THEM.

IF THAT'S WHAT IT IS TODAY, THEN IN FIVE YEARS AND TEN YEARS TIME, HOW MUCH LESS IS THAT SYMBOL GOING TO BE THERE?

AND SYMBOLS ARE SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO HAVE A COMMON UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT HATE IS, WHAT'S WRONG, WHAT'S RIGHT.

IF WE DON'T HAVE A COMMON WAY OF IDENTIFYING EVIL, UNDERSTANDING IT AND REPRESENTATIONS OF IT, IT'S VERY HARD TO COMBAT IT.

THAT'S WHY INFORMATION AND AWARENESS ARE IMPORTANT.

THE COMPANION TO THAT IS UNDERSTANDING WHY.

THE WHAT AND THE WHY.

THIS CAMPAIGN TALKS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE WHAT, BUT A LOT ABOUT THE WHY.

ABE, WHAT SURPRISED YOU MOST AND WHAT CAN WE DO TO REVERSE THE IGNORANCE?

WE HAVE NO ANTIDOTE TO HATE.

THE ONLY THING WE HAVE IS EDUCATION AND AWARENESS.

AS I SAID EARLIER, IN FACT, THE ABILITY TO STAND UP AND SAY NO TO THE BULLY, NO TO BIGOTRY WILL LEAD TO ACTIONS TO STAND UP.

WHEN PEOPLE STAND UP, HOPEFULLY IT WILL PREVENT OTHER PEOPLE FROM ACTING OUT.

WE HAVE TO REBUILD THE CONSENSUS OF CIVILITY IN THIS COUNTRY AND WORLD WIDE.

THIS IS A BEGINNING.

YOU BEGIN WITH WORDS.

IF YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WORDS HAVE SUCH POWER, SUCH POWER, THEN HOPEFULLY YOU'LL ACT ON IT AND STAND UP AND SAY NO.

GIDEON, IN 15 SECONDS, ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC?

WE HAVE NO CHOICE.

WE HAVE TO BE OPTIMISTIC.

YOU KNOW, TO HAVE PEOPLE LIKE ABE TO INSPIRE US, THAT GIVES ME OPTIMISM.

ALL RIGHT.

WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO END IT, GENTLEMEN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S A GREAT CAMPAIGN.

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING IN IT AND IN TODAY'S PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

BYE-BYE.

♪ ♪

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, AND THE DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, PATTI ASKWITHKENNER.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

The WNET Group | Media Made Possible By All of You

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

BBB Logo Charity Navigator Logo