AJC Executive Director David Harris recently received a letter from a young Jew asking what he could do in his community about anti-Semitism. The following is Mr. Harris’s response.
I appreciate your letter asking what you can do in your community to combat anti-Semitism. First of all, I want to commend your awareness of the problem, and your wish to take action. Far too many turn their heads, either denying the problem exists or believing there’s no meaningful action they can take.
Your awareness suggests to me a consciousness on your part of Jewish heritage and Jewish history. The stronger that consciousness among the Jewish people, the more certain we will survive, and thrive, today and in the future.
That said, each one of us must work in whatever arena we can to share the idea that hatred of the Jews never stops with the Jews. Anti-semitism, history shows us so clearly, is used as a battering ram by those who wish to destroy human freedom.
Did Adolph Hitler stop with the Jews? Of course not. Countless millions perished in the Nazi onslaught. Indeed, those among Hitler’s own people who suffered mental or physical disabilities served as the “guinea pigs” for Nazi experiments in suffocation by gas. And today, we see in ISIS, Boko Haram, and numerous factions in radical Islam a hankering to assault and murder not just Jews, but Christians, moderate Muslims, gays, and others.
My point is that anti-Semitism is a social toxin that, when allowed to spread, destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy. It is a tool of brutal, anti-democratic forces, and the more clearly people understand this, the more successfully we can inoculate society against the toxin.
AJC reaches out to top political and religious leaders, communicating this idea, working across nations, faiths, and cultures to build coalitions of conscience. We also work, more broadly, to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to prevent Iran – a state steeped in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred – from becoming a nuclear power. Central to our mission is defending the rights and dignity of all.
I urge you to stay in touch with AJC through our website (ajc.org), and likewise through our tweets, our Facebook page, and our young leadership Facebook page, AJC ACCESS. A sense of Jewish history and destiny, combined with knowledge of the issues and a willingness to speak out, will go a long way.
Once again, I thank you for your letter and applaud your interest in making a difference.
Wishing you a Happy Chanukah.