Antisemitism is an ancient problem. Throughout Jewish history in the diaspora, Jews lacked the power and resources to do much of anything to fight Jew-hatred except condemn it. Today, however, American Jews have established themselves as one of the most successful immigrant communities in the country. Yet, in the face of intensifying antisemitism, they have done little to combat it. Instead, they have focused on merely documenting, educating about, and respectfully objecting to antisemitic acts after they occur. This inaction has normalized antisemitism and allowed the threat to rise.
Since Jews are the direct target of antisemitism, other Americans perceive Jew-hatred as a Jewish problem. So as American Jews do little to fight this bigotry, non-Jews ask themselves: why should we lead this battle?
Evidently, defining antisemitism as a Jewish problem is a lose-lose proposition.
Jews are not going on the offensive to stop antisemitism, and Americans won’t fight battles for those who don’t have the courage to stand up for themselves.
Adam Milstein is an active philanthropist and co-founder of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation. Frustration but inaction encapsulates the inadequate approach of the American-Jewish community. There has been outrage against the growing hostility directed toward Jewish students on college campuses, but the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is only gaining strength. There has been outrage against growing antisemitism on social media, but there is a new scandal every day. There has been outrage against freshmen legislators for promoting antisemitic tropes, but they’ve been let off with only a light slap on the wrist.
Antisemitism is not just a problem for Jews; Antisemitism is an issue for all Americans and threatens to destroy our way of life.
Radical groups–the radical left, the radical right, radical Muslims, and the radical African Americans who champion Louis Farrakhan–are spearheading efforts to erode the core principles that make our country exceptional. Collectively, these radical groups reject the Judeo-Christian values that have supported the foundation of our country and protected all minority communities in America, including Jews.
For years, Jews have been at the receiving end of this hatred. We will lose as Jews and as Americans if we continue accepting our prescribed role as the sacrificial canary in the coal mine, hoping that others may recognize the danger after it has already consumed us whole. If we are truly ready to overcome it, we must stop playing the victim and start fighting this head-on together with other Americans.
We need to be eagles looking out onto the horizon, detecting threats far before they grievously harm us and our country.
There are practical actions we must take to go on the offensive against antisemitism. They include (1) investigating and exposing the radical movements that fuel the spread of this hatred by identifying their networks, money trails, and agendas (2) increasing knowledge-sharing capabilities that inform the American people about the threats and empower them to act (3) holding the media accountable to the standards of a fair and free press (4) supporting legislation that curbs the influence of the hate movements in our institutions.
Presenting antisemitism as a Jewish problem has been a lose-lose proposition because it has not spurred anyone to take meaningful action against it. Now is the time for all Americans to fight against this hatred and racism. Our history and increasingly dangerous reality show that the inalienable rights afforded by the Constitution cannot be taken for granted. We need to fight for our safety and security today so that tomorrow we and future generations can continue living freely and proudly. We must fly into the future as brave eagles and free America from the dangers of antisemitism and the extremism it represents.
Adam Milstein is an active philanthropist and co-founder of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, which sponsored this article.
Learn how you can support their out-of-the box efforts to combat antisemitism. Contact the Milstein Family Foundation at email@example.com.