The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Principles Against Antisemitism
Antisemitism continues to be a very real threat to the global community. In America, antisemitism has emerged in places we may have least expected it: in our synagogues, in the halls of our legislature, on college campuses and all over our public and digital forums.
Resurgent nationalism, economic displacement and inequities, emboldened radical political movements, aggressive de-legitimization campaigns against Israel and her supporters, and the weaponization of social media all contribute to antisemitism. Accordingly, more people are engaging in antisemitic acts and increasing violence. Antisemitism today may look different than in generations past, but its sting is just as painful.
Just as the scourge of antisemitism is evolving, so must our efforts to combat it also evolve. We must become more diligent, more creative and more resolute. We must set aside whatever internal disagreements exist so that we remain unified on calling out and fighting antisemitism in all of its forms.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is alarmed by this trend and therefore issues this statement in order to help identify and combat the menace of antisemitism.
Communication and education are important elements in this effort. However, our top priority must be the physical safety of Jewish institutions. Antisemites themselves have demonstrated in American cities across the country, and in our own backyard. They strike fear across an entire community, fear that is amplified by the rampant antisemitism in social media, political discourse, and protest movements.
This pivotal moment requires a renewed focus, one that begins with reactivating our community in the face of this resurgent historic challenge. What follows is a list of principles against antisemitism that will amplify our community’s voice, inform our strategy and lead to forceful, united action.
Statement of Principles Against Antisemitism
- Antisemitism is a form of prejudice that is directed towards Jews as individuals and as a group. Antisemitism is based on age-old stereotypes and myths that can target Jews as a people, their religious practices and beliefs, or the Jewish State of Israel. Criticism of Israel or of Zionism is antisemitic when it uses anti-Jewish stereotypes or invokes antisemitic symbols and images, denies the Jewish right to self-determination, or holds Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel. A more fulsome definition of antisemitism has been provided by the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance).
- Not everything said or done that is antisemitic is done by someone or something who is antisemitic or bigoted. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone can learn. When those who make antisemitic comments offer sincere contrition and are open to education, there should be acceptance. Continued engagement of habitual antisemitism, however, constitutes complicity.
- Antisemitism must always be condemned, loudly and without exception. The identity of the hater or the hated is not a mitigating factor.
- Antisemitism must be exposed and confronted by our Jewish community. We must address antisemitism through education. We must call out antisemites and recognize the danger they present. We must be vigilant to protect our community from antisemitic violence.
- Antisemitism must be exposed and confronted by allies. The need to battle bigotry from within is no excuse for others to stand idly by. Allies are a strategic and moral force multiplier. Similarly, to have friends, one must be a friend: the Jewish community cannot remain on the sidelines as others are attacked and yet still expect others to come to our defense. Combating bigotry, in all its forms, is a core Jewish value.
- Those who associate with, defend or even embrace antisemitism, antisemites or other bigots/bigotry must be condemned and held accountable – without exception. The fight against antisemitism must include those who defend or associate with antisemites.
- We celebrate the rights of free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly enshrined by the Constitution. Yet when the government or other public institutions are obligated by the Constitution to permit antisemitic speech, those same institutions must exercise their own rights to condemn such speech without exception.
Efforts to Delegitimize, Demonize or Subject Israel to Double Standards are Antisemitic
- It is possible to criticize the government of the State of Israel and/or its policies without being antisemitic. It is not possible, however, to question the legitimacy of Israel or its right to exist, without being antisemitic. Support of Israel is not a defense against antisemitic speech or conduct.
- The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel has proven itself to be antisemitic.
- Opposing antisemitism offers no license to delegitimize Israel, and inversely supporting Israel offers no license for Jew-hatred or for condoning or tolerating the antisemitic actions of others.