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StandWithUs: Fighting antisemitism and supporting Israel — more than ever

Jewish Life Now | June 1, 2023 | by Sergio Carmona

Founded in 2001, the non-partisan international education organization StandWithUs (SWU) finds that its core mission of supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism is needed now more than ever.

From its humble beginnings in the living room of co-founders Roz (CEO) and Jerry (COO) Rothstein together with Esther Renzer (international president), StandWithUs – headquartered in Los Angeles – now has chapters and runs programs throughout the United States, Canada, in Israel, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, South Africa, the Netherlands and Australia.

Antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment continue to grow rampantly worldwide, and are especially prevalent on college campuses. Roz Rothstein recalls that SWU did not start out as a campus organization, but students began bombarding the fledgling organization with calls for help when StandWithUs opened its doors. Students were upset by what they saw, and lost as to how to respond. Muslim Student Unions and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) student groups were hosting antisemitic speakers and bringing hateful displays to campuses to create ill-will against Israel and anyone that supports it

SWU responded immediately by creating educational materials, holding conferences, galvanizing students and teaching them context and ways to respond. The Emerson Fellowship was created in 2007 to formalize a growing network of StandWithUs Zionist students, and the Saidoff Legal Department was created a few years later to help students “Know Their Rights” on campus and engage pro bono attorneys to help students who were being bullied by anti-Israel student groups and professors because of their Zionism.

On August 3, 2022, SWU sent a letter to 3,0000 university administrators and stakeholders, alerting them to five issues related to antisemitism that may arise on campuses this academic year, and offering remedies.

In 2012 StandWithUs opened the high school department because the executive staff recognized that students were unprepared for the challenges they were facing in college, and that education, inspiration and support for students who love Israel needed to start earlier than college. The StandWithUs Kenneth Leventhal High School Internship empowers young Jewish leaders before they arrive in college. Both the Emerson Fellowship and the Kenneth Leventhal High School Internship select and train hundreds of students annually to confront antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric at their schools and communities while also bringing proactive, educational programs to their peers. In the last year, the campus and high school student leaders engaged over 250,000 students with programs across the US and Canada. The 2022-23 Fellows and Leventhal Interns just completed their respective August training conferences and are preparing for the new academic year.

Recognizing that education needs to start even earlier, SWU now has a middle school curriculum, IsraelLINK, that is used across the U.S. in over 200 schools, to inspire and connect young teens to Israel through the lens of their own interests and core values.

Moreover, the organization’s community directors host educational programs for different audiences and also deal with antisemitism on the local level.

SWU also challenges anti-Israel campaigns whether on social media, on campuses, in high schools or in communities. For example, the organization was very involved in the Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Israel campaign. Unilever, the parent company that owns Ben & Jerry’s, recently sold the franchise to its long-time Israel distributor Avi Zinger, which put a quick end to the boycott. The move ensures that the thousands of Israeli and Palestinians employees keep their jobs, and be able to continue enjoying the ice cream.

This victory was nearly a year in the making with SWU and other organizations working from a variety of angles including letter-writing that gathered over 19,000, social media campaigns, and legal angles. The organization also deployed trucks to Unilever’s headquarters with signs protesting Ben and Jerry’s stance. The StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department worked to hold Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever legally accountable for its discriminatory decision. Avi Zinger personally thanked SWU and other organizations who stood by him and challenged the destructive campaign by Ben and Jerry’s.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is another example of a recent antisemitic campaign against Israel which has required a strong response by SWU and other organizations who are paying attention to the double standards constantly promoted by UN agencies. The UNHRC has recently continued its endless vilification of Israel through an unprecedented, open-ended “Commission of Inquiry” (COI) led by a proponent of the Boycott campaign against Israel. As usual, its latest report blames Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians without taking into account the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’ intransigence and terrorism.

In response, SWU launched a letter-writing campaign to the UNHRC and held a mock funeral at UN headquarters in New York. The funeral procession included grim reaper figures in black robes and hoods and skeleton masks, carrying coffins with imprinted signs signaling the death of human rights. The message points a finger at the UNHRC for ignoring human rights abuses throughout the world in favor of its obsession with Israel, harming endless numbers of people who need help, like the Uyghurs in China who are reportedly being tortured in concentration camps.

People can join the StandWithUs campaign and add their names to the petition to end the “Commission of Inquiry” at

SWU believes it must do what it can to ensure Israel remains a secure, thriving Jewish and democratic state that can make peace with its neighbors from a position of strength, and that it must stop antisemitism from threatening Jewish communities and their students around the world.

Roz Rothstein states, “At StandWithUs, we empower people around the world to fight antisemitism and support Israel.”

“As a daughter of Holocaust survivors who lost 80 family members, I deeply understand the urgency to fight dangerous hatred, harassment and violence,” Rothstein continued. “I also believe that now, more than ever, we must proactively tell our story, build new relationships and inspire people around the world about Israel. At StandWithUs, we see this as a race against time.”

StandWithUs’ proactive, cutting-edge resources and programs which are available to you, your family and your community include:

1. The StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department, which is a relentless force that works around the clock helping students and community members use legal tools to fight anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel discrimination. It analyzes antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents and brings all StandWithUs resources to bear with a unique response to each situation. Using a variety of tools and approaches, the department, sponsored by Debbie and Naty Saidoff, has resolved over 1,800 incidents since its founding. If you have a question, contact

2. The Center for Combating Antisemitism (CCA) educates about and fights antisemitism across the political spectrum. It has published over 20 new booklets about antisemitism. CCA’s new online portal allows individuals to report antisemitic incidents in real-time so we can take proper action in response. To learn more and download publications, visit

3. The StandWithUs International Conference, funded by the Milstein Family Foundation, brings together over 500 high school and college student leaders from all over the world. Participants walk away from the conference feeling more empowered, supported and hopeful about what each of them can do to fight antisemitism and educate about Israel in their communities.

4. The brand-new Holocaust Education Center has already made presentations to 1,150 high school students, many of whom are not Jewish. To learn more and to book a presentation, visit,

5. Over 500,000 college students have been reached through SWU’s Emerson Fellowship and other campus programs in the U.S. and worldwide. Thousands of elite college student leaders have already graduated from the StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship, sponsored by Rita and Steven Emerson, empowering and creating the next generation of Jewish and pro-Israel leaders. To learn more and encourage your children or grandchildren to apply, visit

6. SWU has reached over 500,000 high school students with programs in North America and Israel through the StandWithUs Kenneth Leventhal High School Internship and Teen Leadership Council (TLC). To learn more and to encourage your children and grandchildren to apply, visit

7. Over 3,000 middle school students in over 200 schools across the U.S. have already been inspired about Israel through the IsraelLINK middle school curriculum, sponsored by the Sandra and Lawrence Post Foundation. To learn more and encourage your child’s school to adopt it, visit

8. The StandWithUs Israel Education Center located in the heart of Jerusalem (across from the King David Hotel), has reached over 150,000 young visitors from all over the world during their trips to Israel. Its Jerusalem office is so busy, it recently doubled its space, including a state-of-the-art auditorium, TV recording studio and new Visitor’s Experience — poised to host tens of thousands of visitors annually.

9. As a global leader in social media, SWU has over one billion interactions on its many StandWithUs Polak Social Media Department platforms, in a variety of languages with millions of people viewing and sharing its content every day. People can join the organization and educate their peers and communities at:

10. StandWithUs produces educational materials about Israel in a variety of languages. Thanks to Evelyn and Dr. Shmuel Katz, millions of StandWithUs publications have been distributed and used in schools, synagogues, churches, and communities. Order yours at

For more information, visit and write to


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