Rusty Holzer
Principal & Chairman of Worth Capital

The Silence of the Good

Though it is hard to stay optimistic as I watch civil discourse deteriorate and public demonstrations turn violent, in these dark times, I have found a source of hope in the form of a YouTube video from February 2024. The video is a 20-minute a conversation between Dr. Clarence B. Jones, the 93-year-old civil rights activist and draft speechwriter for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and founder of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, in which they discuss the alliance of the Jewish and Black communities during the Civil Rights era, and how that solidarity is what we need to turn the tide of modern-day antisemitism.

At the March on Washington, just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took the stage to tell the crowd about his dream, a German rabbi, Joachim Prinz, stood at the podium. He told the audience that as a young rabbi in Hitler’s Germany, the thing he remembered most was the silence of the good. Jones tells Kraft that at the time, he was shocked at the knowledge that silence could have such an impact. But today, he sees that silence is the biggest negative affecting our communities.

So how can we combat the silence? How can we make sure that good people don’t stand idly by while hate and violence take over the conversation as it did under the Nazis?

To answer this, Jones tells Kraft that at the start of the Civil Rights era, he approached Dr. King with a question: Black people make up only 12% of the American population, so what can organizers do to get the other 88% of Americans to support the cause of the Black community?

Dr. King replied that the key to swaying public opinion was to find a significant segment of that 88% who would join their cause. Jones was determined to get to know this segment. At the next protest, he approached several White people and asked them simply, “Why are you here?” Jones recalls that there were many Jews in the crowd that day, and the vast majority of the people he spoke to told him that their grandparents had died in the Holocaust and that they were protesting for equal rights because that’s exactly what their grandparents would want them to do. The Jewish protestors knew that pursuing justice and righteousness was the only appropriate response to honor those who had witnessed the utmost in discrimination.

Jones acknowledges that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act would never have been passed without the unfailing support of the Jewish community. Because no one group can fight hatred alone. It takes the resolve and courage of outsiders to recognize that ignorance and injustice directed towards anyone is a cancer that must be eliminated from society.

Robert Kraft expresses his deep belief that the majority of Americans today are good people, but they need to be educated about the dangers and realities of antisemitism. Kraft established the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism to demonstrate that silence is unacceptable. Jews and non-Jews alike have an obligation to fight back against hatred wherever it rears its head. The question of antisemitism will not be answered by silence, but by people of various backgrounds coming together to fight for a common cause, just like they did during the Civil Rights movement.

I am inspired by this exchange between Mr. Kraft and Mr. Jones. It gives me hope to think that today’s problems can be solved by regular individuals who resist the comfort of silence, and who choose to demonstrate bravery by listening, learning, and standing up for justice. We are all capable of fighting this insidious silence, but we cannot do it alone. Jones asked Dr. King how to engage the 88% of the American population that wasn’t African American to support the cause. We are now asking the same question, but the numbers are even larger. Since the Jewish population in America sits at less than 3%, we are asking how to engage the 97% of the American population. It is time for a significant segment of America to join the cause against antisemitism.

About the Author
Rusty Holzer is the Principal & Chairman of Worth Capital, a private investment firm. Rusty is a graduate of Harvard University, and a highly skilled equestrian who represented the United States Virgin Islands in the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Related Topics
Related Posts