September 12, 2023
San Diego Jewish World
By Oz Laniado
SAN DIEGO — Here is the good news: We are going to win this battle because we don’t have a choice. To be able to continue to put Mezuzahs on our doors during the next decade, we better wake up now.
In the face of adversity, the Jewish community has always shown remarkable resilience. From our history’s darkest moments, we have risen, determined to protect our heritage, our values, and the right to live without fear. Despite emerging from the ashes of the Holocaust not so long ago, we have built a strong and successful Jewish country, Israel, with a vibrant and advanced democracy. Jewish people are receiving Nobel Prizes and leading companies that are contributing to the world in almost every aspect. We have never forgotten our people’s tragedies and collective pain, but we have moved on.
Clearly, a looming threat casts its growing shadow over us: A surge in antisemitism that has reached unprecedented levels. From verbal assaults to physical attacks, the Jewish community is facing a relentless onslaught of hate.
In the US alone, the ADL’s 2022 audit revealed that “Antisemitic incidents surged to historic levels in 2022, an increase of 36 percent compared to 2021 – also a record-setting year… with college and high school incidents up by nearly 50%.”
The Numbers Don’t Lie
We’ve got roughly 15% of the population who see Israel favorably, and approximately 15% are not fans of Israel. The real issue is that there are 70% who don’t know and don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people. This 70% is where we can make a real difference and challenge ignorance, and plain old apathy. And we should not assume that those who fall into the 15% of people who are favorable to Israel are all Jewish. We have many friends and allies who care about fighting hate. Additionally, we should not assume that those who are “Israel Detractors” are all not Jewish. As a matter of fact, there are many Jews who fall within the anti-Israel and self-deprecating camp. Still, our focus should be to build bridges with the 70% who are not engaged. More of us who care about fighting hate should be reaching out to the 70% with inspiring, educational events about the Jewish people and Israel.
Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism
Anti-Zionism, the supposed harmless cousin of criticism of Israel, is nothing but antisemitism with a facelift. Just the same book with a different cover. The book tells the same old story, modernized for today’s sensitivities. It’s the same old hate with a different packaging. It’s not about questioning Israeli policies; it’s about doubting Israel’s right to exist while holding other nations to a different standard. Israel has been held to a double standard since it was reborn.
Unity and Education
We can’t fight fire with fire, but you can fight ignorance with knowledge. Our frontline troops are the 15% who are already standing by our side. We need to actively equip this group with knowledge and tools so that their support becomes a lifeline that can help bridge the gap with many within the 70%. Educating them about our history, our struggles, and our contributions to the world is essential, sharing their concerns will help build partnerships. Ignorance isn’t always a choice – sometimes, it’s just a lack of access to the right information. We must create multipliers and leaders sooner than later.
What Do We Do Now?
So, where do we go from here? Simple — we fight for truth, and against hate. Greater unity within Jewish communities, and those who support us, is essential as the path to victory cannot be traveled alone. It requires the engagement of allies from diverse backgrounds who believe in the importance of combating hatred in all its forms. This battle is not isolated to the Jewish community — it is a fight for the values of justice, compassion, and human rights that all societies hold dear.
As far as what you can do on an individual level: Educate yourself so you can educate others. StandWithUs offers booklets, speakers and programs on a variety of topics. Write to your legislators about your concerns and attend city council meetings that discuss school curriculums. Make sure that topics like Ethnic Studies include the Jewish story and are not used to fuel antisemitism. It is also crucial to educate the younger generation so they can educate their peers and communities. Encourage them to join the variety of StandWithUs Young Leadership programs in high schools and on college campuses so we can create multipliers and strong future leaders.
The battle against antisemitism isn’t just about us and the time we are living in right now — it’s about the world we leave behind for our children and their children. And when it comes to the future of our world and our children, we must be intentional with our goals, and we must not be apologetic.
We will win because we must, and because the future deserves nothing less than our best efforts today. Let history remember us — not as victims, but as victors against hate, and as the generation that turned the tide and ushered in an era of understanding, unity and pride.
Oz Laniado is the Executive Director of the StandWithUs Southwest region.
Read the full article here.