LDB President, Alyza Lewin, joined Jewish community leaders Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, on the Edwin Black show to discuss the “Explosion of anti-Semitic Speech and Campus Hate.” The theme of the show is more prevalent now than ever before especially with instances at schools like Tufts University and University of Illinois this year. This is an important conversation to engage in as Ms. Lewin eloquently pointed out in the podcast, one of the leading issues of combating anti-Semitism is identifying it in all its forms. The podcast excellently describes and explains what anti-Semitism is, how it has changed over time and what to do about it today specifically in an era of great technological advancements and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Black opened the conversation with a comprehensive explanation on today’s latest manifestation of anti-Semitism being, “A toxic mix of traditional neo-Nazi and clan style hatred, mixed with Liberal fascism which has become infected with the most vile Palestinian, anti-Zionism and anti-Israel demonization.” Rabbi Cooper expanded on this in his articulation of how social media has led to an increase in hate crimes and how COVID-19 has made combatting anti-Semitism an increasingly difficult task. With social tensions higher than ever many Jewish institutions whether specifically targeted or not have felt the impacts of riots and civil unrest that carried out over the summer months and into the fall. Hoenlein also shared in this concern, but noted anti-Semitism was already on the rise before COVID-19, however it only amplified the polarization on both the left and the right making matter worse.
LDB President, Alyza Lewin expressed similar concerns as she described her experiences while working with students on college campuses whose encounters with anti-Semitism often come in the form of exclusion and even demonization for remaining true to their Zionistic and Jewish values. Lewin pointed out the historic pattern of anti-Semitism. In each century, the Jewish people are blamed for whatever is that particular generation’s greatest evil or misfortune. Sadly, today is no exception as college students experience anti-Semitism that follows the same pattern. Lewin explained that racism is viewed by many as today’s greatest evil and Israel, the Jewish homeland, is often falsely maligned as the world’s worst offender of that evil. Students who express support for Israel as part of their Jewish identity are then condemned as “racist.” Often students feel compelled to hide or shed their Jewish Zionist identity to be accepted. Lewin concluded that to effectively combat campus anti-Semitism, Jewish students must articulate that when they are pressured to disavow Israel as a part of their identity in order to be accepted, that is unlawful harassment and discrimination.
The conversation illuminates where anti-Semitism stands today and reminds people the importance of understanding and identifying anti-Semitism in all its forms.
*This event originally aired in August 2020. A recording of the event was recently published on the Edwin Black YouTube channel and can be viewed here.