City governments -- especially those in Europe -- must lead the global fight against anti-Semitism by banishing indifference and denouncing acts of hatred however small, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a speech Sunday at the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
He drew a parallel to the NYPD's "broken windows" strategy of targeting low-level crimes to limit disorder.
"Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction," de Blasio said in a nod to Jewish writer Eli Wiesel. "We're again confronting a time when we can't allow the struggles of our fellow human beings to be seen as an abstraction."
The Democrat delivered the keynote address to the 30th International Mayors Conference on the third and last day of his trip to Israel. De Blasio on Sunday also prayed at the Western Wall and had a closed-door meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"It is a profound honor to be in this holy place," the mayor wrote in the guest book at the Western Wall. "We are reminded here of the power of faith."
Speaking at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, de Blasio said New York City and other diverse urban areas must be "capitals of inclusion and tolerance" that show by example to national governments that "no act of hate is acceptable" and "acts that appear small must be addressed."
The "broken windows" approach under NYPD Commissioner William Bratton similarly targeted criminal incidents however minor, de Blasio said, according to audio of the speech provided by the mayor's office.
"Not looking away when the law was broken started to change us," de Blasio said of what he described as an increasingly safe New York City. "Well, there is a broken windows strategy necessary in fighting bias and intolerance, to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. . . . If we don't attend to one broken window, we implicitly extend an invitation to break another."
World leaders must face the reality that the "cancer of anti-Semitism has grown again in Europe," de Blasio said with references to January's attacks on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a kosher grocery store in Paris.
Jack Rosen, president of American Jewish Congress and chairman of the American Council for World Jewry, hosts of the conference, called de Blasio an important ally.
"The mayor's willingness to engage in this dialogue during a particularly difficult and violent period is a gesture of understanding that won't go unnoticed," Rosen said in a statement.