The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) hosted on Tuesday a gathering of more than 55 partner organization representatives and community leaders and activists at the “New York Symposium Against Antisemitism” in Manhattan.
Notable speakers included New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Executive Director of the New York City Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes Hassan Naveed, CAM Advisory Board Chair and human rights icon Natan Sharansky, and former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr, among others.
Today we’re gathered in New York with representatives from more than 55 partner organizations to discuss the importance of interfaith partnerships, social media, digital diplomacy and grassroots engagement in the fight against antisemitism. pic.twitter.com/bjUcJ0zi6n
— Combat Antisemitism Movement (@CombatASemitism) May 23, 2023
“We are using antiquated methods to dismantle a modern-day crisis,” Mayor Adams said. “If our methods are to merely sit in a sterilized environment of a room like this, with those of us who are all part of the same choir, that is not how you’re going to end antisemitism. The problem is not in this room, the problem is out there.”
“Young people are being fed hate every day,” he continued, referring to social media. “If you aspire to be like someone, even when they do positive things, you’ll aspire to be like them when they start to do negative things. Don’t underestimate the power of Kanye West and what he did, and the millions and millions of young people who know nothing about the history of what antisemitism represents. They only know the modern-day version of the credible messenger. When you are in pain, you reach out and displace your anger at whatever fits the conversation that’s available. I see young people drawing swastikas without knowing what it is.”
Adams — who also participated in the Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism in Athens, Greece, last year — went on to say, “Some of our greatest legal minds need to come together and sue the social media companies that are destroying our communities and our cities and feeding our children the hate and despair they’re witnessing.”
In his remarks at Tuesday’s event, Sharansky commented, “The most important beachhead in the struggle for the future of the Jewish people are on our campuses. And today of course, antisemitism has gotten so big, there is a rise on the left, the right, in the Islamist community, and elsewhere.”
“Antisemitism for thousands of years was always uniting our people, religious or non-religious. Whether in Paris or Kiev, it didn’t matter,” he added. “It came from all different directions, but the Jewish people were always united in their response.”
“Today, it’s not the case,” Sharansky noted. “Some rabbis in their synagogues are afraid to speak about this phenomenon, because it has become very political, on the left and the right. One says, ‘The real antisemitism is on the left.’ The other says, ‘The real antisemitism is on the right.’ Or the real antisemites are Antifa, or the Proud Boys.”
With such partisanship, “there are zero results, because it has become political,” Sharansky said. “People on the left have to fight antisemitism on the left, and people on the right have to fight antisemitism on the right.”
Carr noted, “CAM is unlike any other organization in the Jewish world for one simple reason. We aren’t about staking out our own turf, carving out a particular area that is exclusively ours, establishing hegemony or a domain that nobody can share — that is not CAM’s way. We are all about forging coalitions, building unity, empowering others, and coming together in important creative opportunities that make real and measured impact. CAM does that every day, and with a global reach.”
Naveed — whose office partners with 60 groups throughout New York City to thwart hate crimes, 20 of which represent the Jewish community — pointed out, “Misinformation is at an all-time high. We have to combat hate with education. An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us.”
Naveed’s office is putting together a hate crime education curriculum in schools, which will include resource guides on antisemitism.
Tuesday’s symposium featured roundtable discussions focused on issues such as the importance of interfaith partnerships, social media, digital diplomacy, and grassroots engagement in the collective effort against rising antisemitism.
CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa stated, “Regular conversations like these with a diverse body of our Jewish and non-Jewish friends represent the grassroots effort to tackle Jew-hatred in New York and every major city worldwide. For those of us who are Jewish, let’s take great pride in our heritage and our story. And for those who are not, I can’t thank you enough for being a voice of reason in a world filled with hate and chaos. CAM and its mission can only thrive if we have a broad and bold coalition, and that’s exactly what we’ve built today.”