Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Writer of Nonfiction Holocaust Material to End Antisemitism

American Jews Must Take Combatting Antisemitism Seriously

In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2006 book THE TIPPING POINT, he discussed the “broken windows” theory. And in the December 15, 2021, NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast about antisemitism, guest Rabbi Shimon Kutnovsky-Liak – Zooming from Latvia – discussed the concept in connection with combatting antisemitism.

As discussed in the above podcast interview, if we allow a seemingly insignificant antisemitic remark to go by without correcting this comment, the next day an antisemitic remark could be more significant. And so on and so on until the antisemitic remarks have grown tremendously.

That is the concept behind the British expression “thin edge of the wedge”:

A minor harmful change that starts a chain of more and more changes resulting in dangerous consequences.

This then is the concept behind the title of my nonfiction Holocaust theater project developed for students to educate about the Holocaust and to combat antisemitism.

For the past few months I have been talking to people here in the U.S. and in Europe about this free innovative project to touch the hearts and minds of young people. And what has become very apparent is that people in Europe (I’m including the U.K. in the use of this word) are much more concerned with antisemitism and the lack of knowledge of the Holocaust than Americans.

One obvious reason, pointed out to me by others, is that most European Jews lost family members in the Holocaust as opposed to American Jews who lost family members.

The reason may be deeper – that Europeans have a stronger sense of history than Americans, whose history as a country is so much briefer than the history of European countries. Americans seem less likely to understand what can happen if we don’t pay attention now to the forces that surround us.

A powerful reminder of WWII and the Holocaust is the temporary exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City titled AFTERLIVES: RECOVERING THE LOST STORIES OF LOOTED ART. As the museum website states about the exhibit:

This exhibition traces the fascinating timelines of individual objects as they passed through hands and sites before, during, and after World War II, bringing forward their myriad stories.

If you go to the exhibit page on the museum website — you will find several videos in connection with this exhibit. And there is a book with the same title.

Reflecting on this exhibit which I saw in New York, I thought of the Nazis’ planned “Museum to an Extinct Race.” And how close the Nazis came to achieving this goal.

This is why we owe it to ourselves as well as the Jews and non-Jews murdered by the Nazis not to allow antisemitic and racist comments to “slide by.” We need to “nip these in the bud” before their evilness “blossoms.”

Many of the guests on the NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast about antisemitism – — provide recommendations for nonviolent ways of speaking up against antisemitism. While it can appear scary to speak up, it is better to speak up now than wait until facing the guns of people intent on exterminating us.

We can’t hope to eliminate every antisemite in the world, although we can commit to educating as many people as possible in order to combat antisemitism.

About the Author
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a Los-Angeles based writer who is the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION, the founder of the nonfiction Holocaust theater project and the co-host of the NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast about antisemitism --
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