At Texas Commission Briefing, CAM Adviser Elan Carr Urges ‘Philosemitic’ Approach to State-Level Fight Against Jew-Hatred

CAM Advisory Board member and former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan S. Carr. Photo: Andreas Gebert / Reuters.

March 15, 2023

In a special briefing last week, Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Advisory Board member Elan S. Carr offered the Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission (THGAAC) a series of additional steps the state could take to address rising Jew-hatred.

The THGAAC was established by a bipartisan bill signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in June 2021. With the same legislation, Texas adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

This past November, the THGAAC published its first report, which can be read in full here, featuring eight recommendations to “raise awareness and fight hatred against Jews throughout Texas.”

At a THGAAC meeting in Houston last Wednesday, Carr — the former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism — outlined for the commission the ideological drivers of contemporary antisemitism on the far-right and far-left, as well as the radical Islamic sphere, and proposed several potential policy initiatives to further step up the fight against this age-old societal ill at the state level.

These included the implementation of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, in realms such as education and law enforcement; aggressive investigations of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in addition strict application of the anti-BDS law passed by Texas in 2017; the proactive expansion of Texas-Israel ties; bolstered physical security at Jewish institutions; the introduction of an anti-radicalization program for criminal defendants; the adoption of an “all-of-government” approach to antisemitism-related issues; and the promotion of “philosemitism.”

Carr highlighted the importance of states and cities proclaiming and celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month, which falls annually during May, and developing programs to foster understanding of Jewish history and values, as well as appreciation of Jewish contributions to U.S. society over the past two and a half centuries.

“Most efforts against antisemitism are defensive. This is the offense game,” Carr said. “In celebrating Jewish heritage, we can simultaneously celebrate American heritage at a time when both are under attack.”

“This goes to the heart of the problem of antisemitism, by attacking the spiritual disease itself, rather than only its symptoms,” he added.