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Israeli-Americans: A Strong Voice against Antisemitism in America

Aya Shechter at the UCLA Rally short after pro-Hamas groups broke the barricades into the Pro-Israeli rally side

In recent months, a remarkable phenomenon has emerged within the Israeli-American community in the United States. Since October 7th, Israeli-Americans have been increasingly visible in standing up against the tide of antisemitism sweeping across the nation. This surge of activism begs the question: why now?

The answer lies in the nature of the antisemitism gripping the country. Unlike the classic forms of bigotry that many Jewish communities have faced throughout history, the current wave takes the insidious shape of antizionism and the delegitimization of the state of Israel. Israeli-Americans find themselves uniquely positioned in this struggle. Unlike some American Jews whose appearance may reveal their Jewishness, Israeli-Americans are mostly secular or traditional, and often do not dress or wear symbols that will immediately identify them as Jews based on their appearance. This distinction shields them from some of the overt manifestations of classic antisemitism, which frequently target visible signs of Jewish identity. Additionally, as a younger subset within the broader Jewish American community, Israeli-Americans have less historical exposure to classical antisemitism. Moreover, growing up in Israel, where Jews are the majority, Israeli-Americans have less familiarity with the experience of being a minority group and the attendant challenges it entails.

However, despite these differences, Israeli-Americans are no strangers to persecution. While they may not have experienced harassment on the streets for wearing a Star of David or a yarmulke, they have faced regular attacks simply for living as Jews in the state of Israel. This shared experience of being targeted and threatened has forged a profound solidarity among Israeli-Americans, propelling them to stand up against antisemitism and antizionism wherever it rears its ugly head.

Since  October 7th, Israeli-Americans have become increasingly vocal, making themselves more visible targets of antisemitism. This shift is compounded by their strong Zionist sentiments. For them, antizionism strikes at the core of their identity and purpose, igniting a passionate response to defend their homeland.

Moreover, Israelis are no strangers to adversity. Raised in a region marked by constant upheaval and uncertainty, they possess a remarkable resilience and adaptability. This predisposition to thrive amidst chaos primes them to confront the ever-evolving challenges posed by antisemitism in America.

Crucially, the Israeli-American community’s ability to swiftly connect and collaborate has been instrumental in their newfound activism. Despite diverse backgrounds and perspectives, a shared understanding binds them together, facilitating rapid coordination and action in the face of adversity.

Furthermore, their collective history imbues them with a sobering reality: when someone threatens to harm them, they take it seriously. Unlike many Americans who might dismiss calls for “death to America” as hyperbole, Israeli-Americans understand the gravity of such statements. This acute awareness fuels their determination to confront and combat antisemitism in all its forms.

Israeli-Americans are unapologetically proud of their heritage and accomplishments. They refuse to succumb to narratives of victimhood or shame, recognizing the resilience and determination that define their community. As descendants of immigrants who rebuilt their lives from the ashes of tragedy, they embrace their success with unwavering pride.

It is this spirit of resilience, identity, and unity that positions Israeli-Americans as a formidable force against the rising tide of Jewish hatred and antizionism. Their voices, once marginalized, are now being heard and respected as a trusted source of support for Jewish students and communities across the nation.

In conclusion, the emergence of Israeli-Americans as a prominent voice against antisemitism in America is not merely a coincidence but a testament to their unwavering commitment to their heritage and values. As they continue to stand tall against bigotry and injustice, their influence will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of this crucial battle for years to come.

About the Author
Aya Shechter is the Chief Program Officer at the Israeli American Council (IAC). Aya is a dynamic advocate for the Israeli-American community, blending personal experiences with a rich professional background. Born in Israel and now based in the United States, she's a cornerstone of the Israeli-American diaspora. Aya, married to an Israeli-American and a mother of four, brings a deep understanding of both cultures to her work and writing. With expertise in law and Jewish studies, she's committed to strengthening the bond between Israel and the United States through meaningful dialogue and community engagement.
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