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Education is Key to Counter Normalizing Anti-Jewish Hate and Ignorance


On the eve of the Jewish New Year, the worldwide Jewish population increased to 15.7 million last year, still one million fewer Jews than there were before the Holocaust, showing that the Jewish community has not yet recovered from the Nazi’s systematic genocide. As the New Year begins, the importance of education in combatting the continuing rise in acts of hatred against Jews and Israel is as essential as ever before.


The Jewish calendar year of 5783 was a disturbing one for American Jews and Israelis. The number of attacks against American Jews remains alarming, with countless acts of intimidation – especially on social media – left unreported. Unrelenting physical assaults targeting Jews, bomb hoax calls forcing the evacuation of synagogues, denial of Jewish history and shameless intimidation of Zionist university students continue to make headlines.


A few recent events show that while we are making a dent through community activism, continuing threats loom large. Anti-Jewish voices are normalized at the United Nations, meeting this week, and amplified on American university campuses. Denial of the Jewish ancestral connection in the land of Israel is a common theme.


Denying Jewish History


There is a long, sordid saga of denying basic facts of Jewish history. Jews have maintained a continual presence in Jerusalem for more than 2,000 years and built two temples that were destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans. There is archaeological evidence proving the exact location of the Second Temple before its destruction in 70 CE. The most visible remains of the Temple Mount complex today are the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site.

These facts did not prevent late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from telling President Bill Clinton that “there was never a Jewish Temple, so I cannot accept any Israeli presence in Jerusalem. Not even underground.”


A guide to the holy mosques published by the Supreme Muslim Council in 1924 in Jerusalem unequivocally confirmed that Islam’s Dome of the Rock’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord’.” But in recent decades the Temple Mount’s Islamic guardians removed and destroyed invaluable Jewish archaeological remains.

The UN Targets Israel


The United Nations has for decades denied the Jews' historic connection to the Land of Israel, and even infamously equated Zionism with racism. The UN also empowers autocratic states that routinely target Israel, disregard Jewish history and seek to deny Jews the right of self-determination in their ancestral homeland.


The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recently announced that the prehistoric Jericho ruins are a Palestinian cultural heritage site, when in fact they are well-known to pre-date Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared that the site is a testimony to the authenticity and history of the Palestinian people. The Israeli foreign ministry called it “another sign of Palestinians’ cynical use of UNESCO and politicization of the organization.”


UNESCO previously listed the Jewish Cave of the Patriarchs in the old city of Hebron – the burial site of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah – as a Palestinian heritage site. Former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin scolded “UNESCO’s intent on sprouting anti-Jewish lies, while it remains silent as the region's heritage is destroyed by brutal extremists.”


Corrosive Campus Climate for Jewish Students


Speakers who claimed that the Jewish state acts worse than the Nazis, called for Israel’s destruction and stated that Israel has an insatiable appetite for violence are headlining an event at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn is hosting Palestine Writes, an event taking place during Shabbat and ending immediately before the start of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the timing as “insulting. Shame on Penn.”


The event is being sponsored by a number of university departments, including the Wolf Humanities Center, and a professor was requiring students to attend. Rep. Josh Gottheimer – a Penn graduate – called on the university to disinvite some of the most disgraceful speakers – musician Roger Waters and academic Marc Lamont Hill, two well-known voices of hatred against Israel.


The conference leader dismissed the historical connection of Jews to their ancestral homeland, calling Israelis colonialists and stating that the indigenous Palestinians are being erased, the exact opposite of what is actually true. Palestine was once synonymous with Jews. The Palestine Post – an English-language Jewish newspaper – was renamed The Jerusalem Post following Israel’s independence. The Israel Football Association (soccer) was founded in 1928 as the Palestine Football Association. Currency bills during the British Mandate for Palestine were in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

The latest perversion of history is happening on campus a week after the ADL released its annual Anti-Israel Activism on U.S. Campuses, 2022-2023 report. The vilification of Israel-supporters and expressions of support for terrorism against Israel were the most prevalent activities on college and university campuses. There is a growing, radical movement on many campuses in which opposition to Israel and Zionism is required to be fully accepted in classes and student clubs, effectively marginalizing campus Jewish communities.

The ADL also shared its recommendations with university administrators for the new school year. Its letter advises adopting the IHRA definition, ensuring accommodations for Jewish students who observe religious and cultural practices and other recommendations.


On the positive side last year, the strengthening of ties forged between Israel and other Abraham Accord nations prove that peace is possible in the Middle East and the modern state of Israel celebrated its 75th anniversary. The White House released the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, and American Jewish and Israeli communities displayed resilience against continuing threats.

1. Erasive antisemitism seeks to eliminate Jewish identity

There are bigots who not only deny or distort the Holocaust – they also deny and distort all of Jewish history and identity. They deny that Jews are a people with a unique ancestry who have shared memory, experienced oppression, were exiled from the land of Israel and have a centuries-old connection to the Jewish state. This is erasive antisemitism. Instead, these bigots accuse Jews of being oppressors. They label all Jews as “white” even though historically Jews were never considered white, most notably by Hitler who saw Jews as race polluters. Jews need the help of non-Jews to push back against this growing effort to erase the Jews’ distinct identity and create spaces where Jews feel comfortable talking about their history. Jews must be able to celebrate their heritage openly and proudly without fear of being excluded, shunned or even harmed.

2. Palestinian denial of Jewish history creates distrust

Palestinian leaders have a long history of denying basic, underlying facts about the Jewish ancestral connection to Israel. This denial of historical Jewish connections during the past 30 years of the Oslo Accords makes peace harder to achieve. Ignoring history generates feelings of doubt and sows distrust in negotiations. Lies about Jewish history are prevalent in the Palestinian education system, raising new generations of young Palestinians to believe false narratives about Israelis. To make progress toward lasting peace, it is essential that all parties acknowledge and respect each other's historical narratives. This will help pave the way towards peace and stability in the Middle East.

3. What was unacceptable in the past is more tolerable today

Beating Jews in broad daylight and routine calls for Israel’s destruction were once unfathomable; today they are increasing at an alarming rate. Actions and rhetoric that were unequivocally condemned in the past are now sometimes met with indifference – or even more alarmingly – tacit approval. This deeply troubling change not only threatens the safety and well-being of U.S. Jewish communities but also undermines the tolerance, respect and coexistence that should be the foundations of American society. As the saying goes: ‘What begins with the Jews, often doesn’t end with the Jews.’

4. Education counters amplification and normalization of anti-Jewish hate

The insidious nature of antisemitism often thrives in ignorance and prejudice. Prioritization of education can counteract harmful narratives. Education dispels misconceptions and stereotypes by providing accurate information about Jewish history, culture and contributions to society. It fosters understanding and empathy, breaking down the barriers that fuel prejudice. Teaching about the Holocaust and contemporary antisemitism serve as a stark reminder of the consequences of unchecked hatred. It is a powerful tool for instilling values of tolerance and preventing history from repeating itself. Media literacy and critical thinking skills are essential education components in the digital age where hate spreads rapidly online. Social media users need to be able to discern between reliable information and propaganda, reducing the risk of being influenced by hate-filled narratives.

A. Use these talking points to counter misinformation

Use these talking points in conversations with family, friends and acquaintances and on social media to help educate about the most pressing issues affecting the American Jewish community, most notably the hatred of Jews and Israel. These well-researched weekly editions, vetted by a broad coalition of major American Jewish organizations, serve to help focus and unite us. This language enables individuals and organizations to speak with more consistency and clarity so that their messaging has greater impact and reach with the general public.


B. Join or create coalitions across political, religious and cultural divides

Unity against hatred is more critical than ever. Hate crimes against minorities are increasing in America. Reach out to friends and community organizations to find ways to work together to raise awareness, promote education and advocate for policies that promote tolerance and inclusivity. Taking action together can eradicate hatred, foster understanding and create a world where everyone – including Jews – are treated with the respect they deserve.

Israel in the UN’s Crosshairs


World leaders arrived in NY for the annual United Nations General Assembly. The 78th UNGA began on September 5, and the heads of state for every country are allowed the opportunity to address the world from the hallowed halls of the UN’s U.S.-based headquarters.


Israel has been targeted by 140 condemnatory UN assembly resolutions since 2015. This is compared to 23 denunciations of Russia, 10 for Syria, 8 for North Korea, 7 for Iran and 0 for China. The UN frequently includes non-democratic countries on its councils, many of which target Israel. This includes 70% of countries on the Human Rights Council, 57% on the Commission on the Status of Women, 74% on the Committee of NGOs and 54% of the Women’s Executive Board.


Recently, the former vice-chair of a UN human rights committee and the longest-serving judge of the European Court of Human Rights was exposed as an anti-Jewish bigot. His antisemitic comments included: “Unless Jewish power is named as the cancer, there is not hope for the white race.”


President Joe Biden plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for their first face-to-face meeting since the PM returned to office. There was also a meeting of leaders backed by the Saudis, Arab League and EU to incentivize Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts.


Rosh Hashana Messages from American and Israeli Leaders


President Joe Biden led an annual New Year’s call with Jewish leaders. He told American rabbis facing security threats that, “I have your back.” At a Rosh Hashanah reception, VP Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff spoke about putting the White House’s antisemitism plan “into action.” This call to action happened as Jewish and congressional leaders are seeking an increase in security funding. Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s message to world Jewry was that after a year of “challenge” and “struggle,” now is a time for “a global Jewish conversation that is inclusive, vibrant, empowering, and that will also impact the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

Hatred of Jews in America

  • Swatting bomb calls force synagogue evacuations in NJ, CA, FL; day after attack in FL, Farrakhan follower on city council leaves meeting rather than vote on antisemitism resolution
  • Dramatic increase in public neo-Nazi demonstrations over the last four years; numbers expected to grow in 2024
  • Israeli prime minister meets with Elon Musk to discuss artificial intelligence, anti-Jewish hatred on social media; Musk: “Obviously, I’m against antisemitism”
  • X/Twitter CEO criticized for editing post condemning anti-Jewish hatred four times
  • Meta’s (Facebook and Instagram) Oversight Board urges improved distinction between hate speech and criticism of hate speech
  • MA district attorney staffer who praised anti-Jewish Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan and made antisemitic comment still on payroll months after being put on leave

Stories Impacting the U.S. and Israel

o  Olga Meshoe Washington: COO, Club Z

o  U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres

o  Alex Ryvchin: Co-CEO, Executive Council of Australian Jewry

o  Yoseph Haddad: Arab IDF veteran, CEO Together Vouch For Each Other

o  Jonathan Elkhoury: Gay Christian Lebanese refugee living in Israel who empowers

Israeli Christian youth to serve in the IDF

o  Johnnie Moore: Influential American Evangelical leader and entrepreneur, founded

Kairos Company PR firm

o Destiny Albritton: National Outreach Director, Israel on Campus Coalition

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The Focus Project develops and distributes news, background, history and weekly talking points on timely issues to inform individuals and organizations about issues affecting the American Jewish community and Israel, and help readers speak with more consistency and clarity. The editions also provide potential responses for addressing incidents of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. With input from a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations, we focus on that which unites us, rising above political and individual agendas.

Recognizing that hatred of Jews comes in many forms and directions, we strive to address all sources as they arise, and educate our growing audience on topics ranging from inter-religious relations to relevant international developments. From week to week, we may focus on issues arising from the political left, university campuses, from the political right and from institutions, government, and corporations. We don’t try to address all issues in each edition. We hope you will find this information useful in your writing and/or speaking. We are always open to your feedback:

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