Published in the Jewish Exponent on June 24, 2020.
Facing ever growing anti-Semitism in the decades following the Holocaust, the Diaspora Jewish community’s common response has been to cry “Never Again” and to describe ourselves as the “canary in the coal mine,” which implies that whatever begins with the Jews never ends with the Jews.
While these ideas are echoed by millions, words are not enough. Jewish leaders fail to realize that action is required to prevent this violent hatred from becoming “again and again.” We cannot allow ourselves to be helpless, expendable canaries any longer.
Rabbi Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am just for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” (Pirkei Avot 1:14).
It is upon us to act — now.
We know anti-Semitism is on the rise, and it is likely to get much worse. A perfect storm of circumstances is significantly increasing the danger. Jew-haters are taking advantage of the cracks in our society. They amplify their hateful rhetoric on mainstream and social media and incite violence toward our communities in frightening ways without suffering any consequences.
From medieval Europe to 20th century Nazi Germany, Jews were the scapegoat for all problems. Similarly, the COVID-19 crisis has unleashed a new global anti-Semitic campaign blaming Israel and the Jewish people for spreading the coronavirus, orchestrating the economic turmoil and profiting from the pandemic.
In an age of rampant conspiracy theories and polarized politics, the new anti-Semitism promotes Jew-hatred and violence globally, harboring the support of other radical movements in America. The spread and prevalence of this hatred today threatens to destroy our American religious freedom and our ability to exercise our rights to liberty, prosperity and security. We must do everything in our power to stop this enormous storm before it swallows America whole.
Now is the time to protect our loved ones and our communities and safeguard American values. We need to change our approach from defense to offense, get personally involved, and deploy out-of-the-box strategies.
We, as a community, must adopt several principles to win this critical battle. First, embrace and support the state of Israel without any preconditions. Second, harness our community’s leadership, financial resources and influence to protect ourselves. Third, build a broad coalition with our allies to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.
Anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem; it’s an American problem that we must fight together.
Financial resources are needed to support and expand existing projects and platforms that fight back and put Jew-haters on defense. Additional resources must be invested in research and technology that enable us to combat anti-Semitism by exposing anti-Semites and their illegal activities, violent plans and networks and promptly alerting authorities, media and the public about these threats.
Though a perfect storm of anti-Semitism is looming, we should not be seeking shelter. When it comes to Jew-hatred, we can’t afford to be passive and risk-averse any longer.
Join me to make sure that “Never Again” is, in fact, never again and that we are no longer helpless, expendable canaries in the coal mine.
Let’s think outside the box and use our resources to secure the future of Jews in America. Let’s make an impact together.
Adam Milstein is an Israeli-American philanthropreneur. This piece first appeared at JNS.org.