The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) welcomed Jewish and non-Jewish leaders from around the world on Tuesday to join the New York Symposium Against Antisemitism. Notable speakers and collaborators in the Manhattan event included New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Natan Sharansky, the Chair of CAM’s Advisory Board, a former Soviet prisoner, former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and leader of the Free Soviet Jewry Movement and former US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr.
“We are using antiquated methods to dismantle a modern-day crisis,” Adams said as he opened his address. “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. 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.
“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,” the mayor urged.
“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,” said CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa.
“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.”
Fifty-five partner organizations were present to discuss new strategies to combat antisemitism at the symposium.
“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,” Natan Sharansky said.
“Antisemitism for thousands of years was always uniting our people, religious or nonreligious. Whether in Paris or Kiev, it didn’t matter,” he added. “It came from all different directions, he observed, but the Jewish people were always united in their response.”
That’s not the case today, he warned. “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.
“When the left can’t get along with the right, and vice versa, “There are zero results, because it has become political. People on the left have to fight antisemitism on the left, and people on the right have to fight antisemitism on the right.”
Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prisons, with several of those years in solitary confinement. He served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel from 2001 to 2003.
“CAM is unlike any other organization in the Jewish world for one simple reason,” said Elan Carr. “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.”
One example Carr provided was an event in Virginia where CAM brought together a coalition with many of the major national Jewish organizations. Every federation in the state of Virginia and every single Jewish Community Relations Council in the state subsequently adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism.
“Together we crafted a plan for passing IHRA in a state where passing IHRA was very, very contentious, in part for political reasons,” said Carr. “It was only because of the united front that we presented that IHRA sailed past both houses of the General Assembly in Virginia, including unanimously in the senate.”
Those who attended then symposium also heard from Hassan Naveed at the New York City Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, which partners with 60 organizations throughout the city to thwart hate crimes, including 20 that represent the Jewish community.
“This coalition is the first of its kind,” said Naveed. “There’s no other office like ours elsewhere in the country. Misinformation is at an all-time high,” he added. “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 includes putting together resource guides on antisemitism.