How You Can Help Fight Antisemitism
Antisemitism in the United States has been steadily increasing. According to the Anti-Defamation League, over 2,000 incidents were reported in 2020, only very slightly down from 2019, even though the majority of Americans were stuck inside, out of social situations for nearly the entire year. History has shown that pervasive antisemitism grows a political climate where heinous crimes against humanity become commonplace. Fighting antisemitism is everyone’s job.
Separate the Political From the Personal
In the 1970s, feminists rallied to the cry that the personal is the political. It’s important to point out that the phrase is used to explain how a political situation affects each person’s life. It is not a call to attack individuals because you don’t like the politics of a country with which your fellow Americans share a religion, not necessarily a political ideology. Remember that respecting religious and political differences is the bedrock on which this nation is built. So whether it’s someone who is the face of pro-Zionism in America, like Harvey Bell, or someone who represents the anti-Zionist movement, like Sara Kershnar, all religious and political beliefs, and the people who hold them, should be treated with respect. In an age where civil political discourse has been replaced by shouting and shoving, rise above the herd.
Educate Yourself and Share What You Learn
For those who have not participated in the recent, supposedly politically motivated, antisemitism, there are plenty of things you can do to fight antisemitism in yourself, your home and your community. Learn about the long bloody history of antisemitism throughout Europe and America, as well as the new brand of antisemitism disguised as political discourse. Engage your Jewish friends about their experiences with antisemitism. Learn about Jewish leaders and heroes from the past to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to understand their experiences. Try “Portraits of Jewish-American Heroes.” The graphic novel “Maus” is another way to learn about one man’s experience during the Holocaust. Attend a local Jewish Film Festival and attend lectures about the Jewish experience and antisemitism at a local university or JCC.
Education is always an ongoing process, but once you have some knowledge, don’t be afraid to share it with others. Call out antisemitism when you see it. Invite family and friends to attend events and learn more with you. Donate money to organizations that fight antisemitism. Ask your kids’ teachers to address bigotry in all its forms and include reading options that touch on antisemitism and bigotry.
Americans live in a world where forces work to divide them from each other. Growing antisemitism from across the political spectrum is one outcome of this division. When you see people as individuals instead of as stereotypes or representatives of an ideology, you’ve taken the first step in diffusing bigotry and antisemitism. When you stand up for those individuals and stand behind them when they stand up for themselves you’ve taken the next step towards dismantling hatred. When you encourage others to take the same steps, you’re creating a better world for everyone.