Banding Together Against Hate
Antisemitism hit the mainstream this past year with celebrities including Kanye West and Kyrie Irving disseminating antisemitic tropes across social media and TV. Anti-Defamation League CEO and National Director, Jonathan Greenblatt, called on all Jews to look past internal conflicts and division amongst Jews so the strength of the community can combat modern bigotry.
Greenblatt wrote in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about the severe division among Jewish people on religious practices, beliefs, politics, the State of Israel, and even on what antisemitism is. He described it going so far that “some Jewish leaders seek to tear down other Jewish leaders even as it tears apart the community, as Steven Windmuller, a retired professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, recently documented.”
“I point this out not to diminish the value of debate and dissent—these are fundamental to our tradition. But we need to be mindful of when debate descends into division.”
Greenblatt understands that Jewish ancestors had to band together in the past to stand against hate—many did so in WWII in Europe and throughout the U.S. in the 20th century. Those in religious minorities throughout history have had to support each other to defend their religion and themselves. For example, at Standing Rock in 2016, thousands of Native Americans joined arms in a nonviolent demonstration for months to block construction through their sacred grounds. Afterward, the executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, Gay Kingman, said “we must protect our Mother Earth for our future generations.” Then in Bangladesh in 2022, around 10,000 Muslims joined in peaceful protest against remarks made on the Prophet Muhammed from an official spokesperson of India’s ruling party, such bigotry affecting hundreds of millions of Muslims in India and surrounding regions. And in Portland in 1985, tens of thousands of Scientologists took to the streets in nonviolent protest of a court case against the church, the protests lasted two months and led to winning the case. Looking back on the victory, David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, described it as “a test of our resolve, our fortitude and determination to avert a grave assault on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Greenblatt wrote, “We are our brother’s keeper, and any Jew suffering from antisemitism is ultimately our responsibility. We must come together, despite our differences, and fight those who hate our people.”