Antisemitism must be included in Antiracism

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Multicultural society and international tolerance celebration of multicultural and african, asian, american and caucasian culture integration and pride as a multi cultural group

Addressing Racism and Antisemitism: A Collective Responsibility

During the first week of October 2023 I was on an island, no it was not Manhattan, it was in the Caribbean. I was reading “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X Kendi. To be honest I expected to find examples of bias against Jews in the book, but I found none. This expectation had nothing to do with the author, who I respect a great deal.

My expectation, that I would find antisemitism in a book about being antiracist, was due to the positions increasingly taken by progressive political figures in the US. My last day in the Carribean on that trip turned out to be October 7. Unbelievably we saw groups Jews had supported in large numbers as recently as 2020 now side with Hamas.

It begs the question: Why is antisemitism not considered racism by the newest incarnation of anti-racist movements?

Racism and antisemitism are both pernicious forms of prejudice that have long plagued societies worldwide. Despite progress in many areas, these issues remain persistent, necessitating ongoing efforts to combat them. Understanding the complexities of both racism and antisemitism is essential for creating a more inclusive and equitable world.

Understanding Racism and Antisemitism

Racism involves discrimination or prejudice against individuals based on their race or ethnicity. It manifests in various forms, from overt acts of violence to systemic inequalities in areas like education, employment, and criminal justice. The roots of racism are deeply embedded in history, shaped by colonialism, slavery, and socio-economic hierarchies.

Antisemitism is hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. It includes a range of malicious myths and stereotypes, often portraying Jews as powerful, conspiratorial, or disloyal. Historically, antisemitism has led to exclusion, pogroms, and genocides, most horrifically exemplified by the Holocaust.

The Intersections and Differences

While both racism and antisemitism are forms of hate, they operate in distinct ways. Racism often targets people of color, manifesting through visible physical differences. Antisemitism, on the other hand, can be more insidious, as it targets Jews who may not be visually distinguishable from non-Jews. Additionally, antisemitism is unique in that it frequently involves accusations of disproportionate influence and power, a theme less prevalent in other forms of racism.

The Impact of Racism and Antisemitism

The impact of these forms of hatred is profound and far-reaching. Victims of racism and antisemitism experience significant psychological trauma, social exclusion, and economic disadvantages. Communities are torn apart, trust in social institutions is eroded, and social cohesion is undermined.

The societal consequences are equally severe. Economically, discrimination leads to a waste of human potential and productivity. Politically, it fosters division and instability, making it harder to achieve collective goals. Culturally, it impoverishes society by stifling diversity and creativity.

Combatting Racism and Antisemitism

Effective strategies to combat racism and antisemitism require a multi-faceted approach:

1. Education: Promoting understanding through education is crucial. Schools and universities should incorporate comprehensive curricula that address the histories and contributions of marginalized groups, including African Americans, Native Americans, and Jews.

2. Legislation: Strong anti-discrimination laws must be enacted and enforced. Governments should also adopt measures to combat hate speech and hate crimes, ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable.

3. Community Engagement: Building bridges between different communities can foster mutual understanding and solidarity. Initiatives that encourage dialogue and collaboration can help break down stereotypes and prejudices.

4. Media Representation: Media plays a powerful role in shaping perceptions. It is essential to promote accurate and diverse representations of all groups in films, television, news, and social media to counteract harmful stereotypes.

5. Support Systems: Providing support for victims of racism and antisemitism, including mental health services and legal assistance, is vital for their recovery and empowerment. In the case of Mental Health services there are organizations such as Collel Chabad in Israel and Kesher Shalom in the northeast US.

The Role of Individuals

Every individual has a role to play in combating racism and antisemitism. It begins with self-education and reflection on one’s own biases. Speaking out against discriminatory behavior, supporting affected individuals, and advocating for inclusive policies are all critical actions. By standing in solidarity, people can collectively challenge the structures that perpetuate hate.


Racism and antisemitism are deep-seated issues that require concerted efforts from all sectors of society. Through education, legislation, community engagement, media representation, and individual action, we can work towards a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. It is only through sustained and collective effort that we can hope to eradicate these forms of hatred and build a more just and inclusive future.

Wherever you find yourself, when applicable, call for antisemitism to be included in every organization’s antiracism program

About the Author
Steve Cohn, is the President and Founder of Belltown Analytics, and also serves as the CIO of Kesher Shalom. His technical and financial background led to a 5 year consulting engagement at the United Nations, where he deepened his understanding of conflict resolution, and gained an in depth exposure to global issues. The experience also intensified his life long interest in issues involving Israel and the global Jewish community. In the private sector, through Belltown Analytics he helps small business improve their web presence and gain meaningful insights into their financials through data science tools. More information can be found at https// In the public sector, he is CIO at Kesher Shalom, a non profit organization providing services to those affected by the recent rise in antisemitism. More information can be found at https//