On January 26, Jewish leaders met under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, to discuss unity in the face of antisemitism. The meeting took place one day before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The speakers stressed “that the community should unite and go on offense against anti-Semites across the political spectrum.” Former Obama-administration Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, for example, said, “If we only criticize anti-Semitism from our political opponents and not people in our own party, our own ideology, we really aren’t caring about anti-Semitism. …We’re just using the platform of anti-Semitism to wage war against our political opponents, and those are those of us on the left, like myself, those on the right, have done too much of this and we have to end it.”
Unity has great power. Accordingly, this meeting could have been a powerful show of force. It could have shown that Jews can unite in the face of Jew-hatred, which would have gone a long way toward mitigating antisemitism.
Regrettably, there is a big difference between wanting unity and wanting to show unity. The latter is powerless and evokes ridicule and contempt. The former is what we really need but do not have, and Jewish leaders around the world do not seem to aspire to it. Their goal, it seems, is clout and wherewithal. This is why nothing will come out of that meeting.
Unity is the key to mitigating antisemitism. It is also the key to the success or failure of our nation. As I have shown multiple times in essays, op-eds, and in several books, unity is the foundation of our nation. When we are united, the world welcomes us; when we are apart, the world scorns and despises us.
Uniting in order to fight against antisemitism would have worked had we used it as a first step toward true unity, unity of the heart. If we had moved from unity because of fear to unity because we care about each other and feel responsible for one another, I would have rooted for it. But the “unity” of Jewish leaders is merely a front. Behind it hides the same division, the same hatred between the parties, and no real effort to form a bridge above it. I am convinced that the only goal of the conference is to raise money for the organizations running the event and increase their influence in the community and in politics.
If this is the goal, the result will be the opposite of unity; it will lead to more division among us and more derision from the world. Time will tell, but I have little doubt about my conclusion and little hope that I am wrong.
For more on the significance of Jewish unity, see my books Like a Bundle of Reeds: Why unity and mutual guarantee are today’s call of the hour, and The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, Historical facts on anti-Semitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord.