Countering Anti-Semitism With Knowledge

September 11, 2020


By Ari Rosenblum (Director of Community Relations, The Focus Project)

Our country faces challenges it has never before faced. Fault lines in our society have become evident. So has the strength, resilience, and compassion of countless heroes. But two major issues we face are not new and have even intensified in recent months: Anti-Semitism and challenges to Israel’s basic right to exist as a Jewish homeland. We must fight back harder than ever if we are to defeat this trend.

The Focus Project was created to join the battle and better arm you. It brings together highly experienced communications professionals from across a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations to develop talking points on key issues affecting our community each week. The consistent, consensus messaging they develop is sent to many thousands of influencers and stakeholders across the nation, both within the Jewish community and beyond.

The messaging is then amplified and magnified by subscribers as they use them for facts, context and, most of all, language. The crisp, concise messaging is intended to resonate among as many Americans as possible as subscribers use the carefully crafted words in their meetings, speeches, social media posts, among their peers and classmates, friends and contacts as well as even sermons.

Do you remember the pain, outrage, and resolve we felt at the end of last year, when news reached headline status that Jews were being targeted, assaulted, and murdered?  The ADL reported more than 2,100 incidents of violence, vandalism, and harassment against Jews in 2019. Jewish students experienced a storm of anti-Zionist activity, abuse and exclusion on campus. Social media became toxic.

Then COVID hit.

I’d like to be able to say that the danger of anti-Semitism receded with the pandemic, but the threat only grows. I wish I could tell you that movements for social justice have eliminated anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate from their leadership, but they have not. I hoped to be able to tell you that grave economic circumstances have been empty of conspiracy theories of white supremacists, but I cannot. The assault on Jewish identity and self-determination in our homeland continues unabated. Voices in sports, entertainment, and on social media vilifying Jews and Israel only grow in their viciousness and their reach.

But the political and religious fringes that spew hatred are not yet the mainstream. The overwhelming majority of Americans are moderate, honest, friendly, and prepared to hear truthful messages – not hate.

So how can we – who care about Jews and Israel and are dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism – reach this massive American majority? With a consensus voice and consistent language. That is what The Focus Project provides.

More than 80% of responding subscribers report that they regularly use the talking points in a host of ways, from public speaking to tweets. We make no excuses about our belief that while criticism of Israeli policy is legitimate, anti-Zionism is a fundamental denial of the Jewish right to self-determination. It’s a rejection of a crucial part of the Jewish experience for many American Jews, and therefore may be described as anti-Semitic. Influencers – across the social, political, and religious spectrum – use these talking points every week. What about you?

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Category: Contributor Op-Eds