Antisemitism is back in epidemic proportions. Across the world hate crimes against Jews, Jewish institutions and real existential threats to the state of Israel are at an all time high. Recently the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called together 58 Jewish organizations to discuss a plan of action to combat antisemitism.
As an American Jew with strong ties to the Jewish Diaspora and Israel, who has been in the leadership arena of American Jewry, I have worked with several of the attendees of this conference and applaud the goals of the conference. But having been in this kind of rodeo several times before, I have several recommendations, if in fact, we stand any chance of even thinking about winning the battle against antisemitism which the late Robert Wistrich accurately describe as “The Longest Hatred.”
The very sad fact is that the Jewish world is shrinking demographically at a time when those who hates us is growing at an alarming rate. Another sad fact in this equation is that there are hundreds of groups, just in America, claiming to be fighting antisemitism and more growing each day. These two very sad facts support the fact that there are fewer and fewer resources to be concentrated to devote directly to this challenging fight being waged by hundreds of decentralized armies of organizations. In other words, we have too many generals, not enough soldiers or resources to support these armies.
What we need to do is consolidate, have a few generals and better fund the effort with more soldiers than generals and organizations.In doing so, we avoid duplication of effort and resources and succeed in having a better chance of winning.
With less than one percent of Jews in the American population and hundreds of organization allegedly speaking for us, we have become a Tower of Babble with voices from SJP and IfNotNow to the Jewish Defense League and SHAS. Our enemies know that we are deeply divided, demographically shrinking with shrinking resources and that the further away we get from the Holocaust, the greater the existential threats grow against the Jewish people as a whole with revisionist history, Jewish apathy and assimilation and hostile agendas driven by centuries old prejudices. These are facts and they are not promising to win a battle.
The fact is that we have become too comfortable and have lost the survival fire in the soul institute to survive as a people. We have made same mistake our ancestors made by saying, “it can’t happen here.” In Germany they asked how could this happen in the most civilized cultural country in Europe. America is not the most civilized anything these days as it returns to its Wild West, “ready, fire, aim” days and it is happening here and again in Europe, Canada, Latin America and elsewhere. Some are blaming the current leadership in Washington and Jerusalem for the rising tide, but the fact is that the tide started rising long before these current administrations and has never been so far under the surface to have been eliminated. Quite frankly the current administration have done nothing to address it and may have in fact exacerbated it, but it has been evolving for at least 10 years where we have now full blown antisemitism from both the extreme left and the extreme right both poisoning the live and let live mainstream centrists.
What we need to be doing is making less and less worthwhile for antisemites to thrive. It needs to cost them in terms of their primary needs. We need to keep them tied up in court with defending themselves against strong criminal and civil penalties for being antisemitic. We need to be clear about what antisemitism is and is not, but not say that it is Free Speech. It is hate speech as it is both incitement and threatening with imminent danger at the same time. People need to be sanctioned and secluded from civil society. Other civilized countries have laws against Holocaust denial and revisionism and we need that as well. We must impeach government officials expressing antisemitism in any way in connection with their jobs as being in defiance of both law and policy. There needs to be penalties for antisemitism and it can no longer be given a pass as free speech and expression.
The American public is tired of a plethora of Jewish groups whining about antisemitism and we should stop whining. We need to swing into action to hold people accountable with existing laws and policies and enact new policies to establish the basis of legal and policy precedent of accountability for being antisemitic. This will mean professors for acts of “moral turpitude” and legislators get sanctioned or impeached. This will mean officials and executives and employees will be sanctioned with a body of precedent that is based on law and action. We simply must say, “It is now against the law to be antisemitic.” That is how you beat antisemitism.