January 2022, Colleyville, Texas: Four American Jews were held hostage in a synagogue for 11 hours by a gunman deluded by conspiracies of Jewish power. July 2021, Boston, Massachusetts: An Islamist extremist, fueled by hatred of Jews, stabbed a rabbi multiple times outside a Jewish school. October 2018, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: A white supremacist murdered 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the deadliest antisemitic attack on U.S. soil.
In 2019, motivated by radically different ideologies, murderers targeted Jews at a Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, and a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York.
The numbers do not lie: According to the FBI, Jews were the target of 55% of all religiously motivated hate crimes in 2020 despite accounting for just 2% of the U.S. population. And, following the Hamas-instigated conflict in Israel in May 2021, documented incidents of antisemitism rose at least 80%.
American Jewish Committee’s 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report revealed that 24% of American Jews have been personally targeted by antisemitism in the past 12 months. The survey found that 90% of respondents believe antisemitism is a problem in the U.S., and 82% feel it has increased in the past five years. Sadly, four in ten American Jews changed their behavior at least once out of fear of antisemitism.
The trend of resurgent anti-Jewish hate in America follows the reanimation of antisemitism in Europe in the early 2000s. In the aftermath of violent and fatal attacks across the continent, AJC convened the “Defining Moment for Europe” summit in 2015. The summit culminated in a Call to Action detailing specific steps that Europe could take to protect not only its Jews, but its values.
When societies cannot protect their Jewish populations—by ignoring, minimizing, or redefining antisemitism—they often fail to protect their democracy as well. Now it is America’s turn. American values are now under threat as anti-Jewish prejudice, conspiracy theories, and violence have increased in recent years.
What follows is an American Call to Action to mobilize and unite American leadership in all sectors of society to understand, respond to, and prevent antisemitism. There is no silver bullet, and the suggestions offered are not exhaustive. Because what starts with Jews rarely ends with them, it is incumbent on all Americans to proactively seek out and employ best practices like those outlined herein.
The time to act is now.
To combat antisemitism, one must understand it. AJC’s 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report revealed that more than one-third of Americans are not even familiar with what antisemitism is. First, to understand the hatred of Jews, one needs to know who Jews are.
Who are Jews? Jews account for 0.2% of the world’s population—only 15.2 million people—and only 2% of the U.S. population. Jews are more than a religious group: They reflect diverse ethnic, racial, and national characteristics while exhibiting a strong sense of group identity. Jews have continuously lived in the land of Israel since Biblical times, and today half of the world’s Jewish population are citizens of the State of Israel. Jews span the full political and socio-economic spectrum. Jews by choice (those who convert to Judaism) add additional diversity. The Jewish people include Ashkenazi Jews descended from Eastern Europe, Black Jews from Ethiopia, Brown Jews from India, and Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews from North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, and Iran. Given this diversity, characterizing Jews as only “white” and “privileged” ignores history and present reality.
What is antisemitism? For governments, law enforcement agencies, and others who have a practical need to identify and respond to antisemitism, the best tool is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” It also includes practical examples to determine whether something is antisemitic, such as discrimination and hatred of Jews, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and distortion, and antisemitism related to Israel. Internationally recognized as the authoritative definition, it has been adopted by more than 800 bodies, including more than 30 countries and multilateral organizations such as the European Union and the Organization of American States. It informs the U.S. State Department’s work on global antisemitism and guides the U.S. Department of Education to address antisemitism on college campuses. Scores of universities, sports teams and leagues, states, and local governments have formally adopted it.
Where does antisemitism come from? Contemporary antisemitism can be difficult to pinpoint as it stems from the far-right, including white supremacism, white nationalism, and neo-Nazi antisemitism; the far-left, arising from identity-based politics or anti-Israel antisemitism, including denying Israel’s right to exist; and religious extremism, including Islamist extremism and factions of some religious sects such as Black Hebrew Israelites and Nation of Islam. AJC’s Translate Hate glossary includes tropes and phrases that are reused and recycled, often unknowingly. More information on the origins of antisemitism is available here.
Is criticism of Israel antisemitic? Political protest is an essential part of democracy, and criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country is legitimate. However, it is antisemitic to target or attack Jews and Jewish institutions as a response to Israeli policies or actions. These examples—which occurred amidst and after the May 2021 flare-up between Israel and Hamas—show when anti-Israel statements and actions are antisemitic.1
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
First and foremost, we all bear the responsibility to decry antisemitism. When everyone uses their voices to push antisemitism and those who espouse it to the fringes of society, America becomes a safer place not only for Jews, but for all.
Responding to the complex nature of antisemitism requires a multi-pronged approach. Below is a top-line summary of the recommendations that are elaborated upon in linked sections.
- Government leaders at the federal, state, and local levels must speak out.
- Congress should adopt legislation to enhance Jewish community safety, improve hate crimes reporting, and raise awareness of antisemitism.
- Law enforcement should work with the Jewish community when antisemitic crimes occur, increase security to Jewish institutions, and accurately record and report antisemitic hate crimes.
- Social media companies have the responsibility to remove antisemitic content.
- Media companies and journalists must accurately report on antisemitic incidents.
- Agencies, companies, organizations, and other entities should have transparent processes and procedures in place to report antisemitism to ensure efficient and effective responses and to ensure a safe environment for everyone, including Jews.
- DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion) initiatives should include information about Jewish diversity, Jewish inclusion, and antisemitism.
- Partners and allies from religious, ethnic, and racial communities across the ideological spectrum should speak out in solidarity with the Jewish community and raise awareness about antisemitism within their own communities
- Educational institutions have the responsibility to protect students, staff, and faculty from antisemitism, harassment, and hostile campus environment that are the results of real or perceived Jewish and/or pro-Israel identities.
Finally, everyone should be encouraged to report anti-Jewish incidents. In 2021, four in ten U.S. adults witnessed antisemitism, including negative remarks or online content about Jewish people. It is crucial to report these occurrences to authority figures, law enforcement or, if online, to the social media platform.
Understanding and responding to antisemitism is necessary, but the ultimate goal must be to prevent it. The following themes outline, in broad strokes, actions to help prevent antisemitism:
- Engage with the Jewish community | 36% of Americans do not know a Jew. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Americans who say they know someone Jewish are significantly more likely to view antisemitism as a problem, with 66% saying so, compared to 49% of those who do not know anyone Jewish. Knowing Jews is a simple step that can be monumentally important not just for the Jewish community, but one that can then create inclusive, more secure, and resilient environments for all.
- Be prepared | A heightened awareness of the situations and times when antisemitism increases enable proactive planning to combat it. Antisemitism often rises during election cycles, around Jewish holidays, and during flare-ups in the Middle East. Community leaders, allies, and law enforcement should be on alert during these times and provide support to the Jewish community, as needed.
- Increase security and promote resilience | As long as Jewish communities are threatened by antisemitic violence, their security needs must be addressed. Combating antisemitism also must be seen in terms of Jewish community resilience, meaning that the Jewish community anticipates and responds to incidents, but more importantly withstands them and adapts purposely. This approach will ensure the Jewish community not only survives, but also thrives. It is about stability and structure as opposed to a continuous battle.
- Promote awareness and training | The importance of education in prevention cannot be overstated. Trainings—on Jews, the Holocaust, and antisemitism—provide an opportunity not only to show solidarity but to gain knowledge and tools to identify and respond to antisemitism. Programs to combat racism and intolerance provide an important framework, but they may downplay or ignore the problem of antisemitism. Because of its complexity, antisemitism should be addressed as a unique form of hatred. Finally, as misinformation spreads online and off, media literacy is increasingly important.
- Establish policies and create the right structures | Government, educational institutions, companies, and civil society can all craft policies and/or establish official structures to prevent and address antisemitic hate, prejudice, and conspiratorial thinking. Sustained action from all allies and partners is crucial.
We are all responsible for combating antisemitism
Executive Branch Action Items
The White House and Executive Branch agencies play an unparalleled role in promoting national cohesion around important issues and charting long-term, sustained engagement. As antisemitism continues to threaten the well-being of the Jewish community, federal agencies have the responsibility and the resources to raise awareness, respond, and most importantly, prevent it. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
Countering antisemitism begins with understanding it. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, a proven, flexible tool, is internationally recognized as the authoritative definition of antisemitism.
- Department of State | Today more than 30 countries and key multilateral organizations have adopted the IHRA Working Definition. An earlier version was first employed by the State Department in 2006 and it has guided its international monitoring work since then. The Secretary of State, along with the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, should increase efforts to promote the IHRA Working Definition.
- Department of Education | In 2018, the Department of Education indicated that the IHRA Working Definition would help guide its understanding of antisemitism when enforcing Title VI. In 2019, Executive Order 13899 reinforced its use by the department as well as other federal agencies with responsibility for addressing antisemitism. This executive order should be fully employed.
- Department of Justice | We call on the Department of Justice to endorse and utilize the IHRA Working Definition. It can also inform law enforcement agencies at all levels as they respond to, investigate, and report on antisemitic hate crimes and acts of domestic terror.
All federal agencies | A common understanding of antisemitism improves cooperation and effectiveness. All federal agencies would benefit from using the IHRA Working Definition. Additionally, the White House can encourage states and localities to adopt and utilize it.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Address physical attacks and domestic terrorism | Physical attacks against Jews are often perpetrated by white supremacist extremist groups and homegrown violent extremists. A federal plan to address the propagation of extremist ideologies in public institutions, such as prisons and law enforcement units, is recommended as well as the reestablishment of interagency initiatives between federal and state agencies to address domestic terrorism.
Mitigate online threats | The White House should back legislative efforts to reform Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to hold social media companies liable for content on their platforms. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and some platforms are calling for such reform. For clarity and consistency, we must ensure one solution, not 50 individual state solutions, sufficiently addresses the problem. Additionally, the U.S. government can designate transnational white supremacists and other extremist groups as terrorist organizations. Doing so mandates that social media companies remove their content and severely limit white supremacists’ ability to recruit online.
Encourage data collection | The White House should call on state and local governments to rectify endemic underreporting of hate crimes to the FBI. To ascertain Jewish experiences with antisemitism and root causes, federal government agencies can fund and conduct large-scale surveys of American Jews and the general public. This information can inform and improve everything from security to educational programs. For instance, the Department of Education, through the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), can conduct surveys in public primary and secondary schools to gather data on anti-Jewish incidents.
Increase awareness | Federal agencies can help raise awareness about antisemitism, including by issuing public condemnations and expressions of solidarity when incidents occur. Doing so elevates the issue, showing that combating antisemitism is a priority for the U.S. government.
Engage with the Jewish community | Holding regular meetings with Jewish communal representatives to learn about priorities and concerns, and to offer transparency about how federal agencies are responding and taking action, is a way for the White House to model how the government at all levels can generate goodwill and facilitate vital information sharing.
Create a national action plan | The White House should convene a task force charged with creating a national action plan to support interagency cooperation and to ensure the federal government can appropriately support state government efforts to fight antisemitism. The administration should support state-level action plans, aligned with national recommendations.
Hold a government summit |The White House has taken the lead on convening task forces and/or hosting summits on critical issues. We recommend a federal government-wide summit on combating antisemitism in all its forms with plans and pledges from each Department.
Appoint an official to improve interagency coordination | Interagency coordination, centralized by the White House, is necessary to deploy each agency’s resources most effectively. The appointment of a designated official to facilitate and streamline coordination is recommended.
Ensure a whole-of-government response | An approach that integrates the collaborative efforts of all facets of the government will help achieve unity of effort towards addressing antisemitism. White House efforts should involve Congress and include a funding mechanism to meet security, educational, and training needs.
Congressional Action Items
Elected officials are often on the front line of combating antisemitism, protecting Jewish communities, and speaking out in support of American values. Congress can leverage resources to enhance Jewish security, establish structures to prevent and address hate, and confront the politicization of antisemitism. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
A standard definition | Congress has passed several bills promoting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, including the Combating European Antisemitism Act, signed into law in 2019. Congress can continue to urge foreign nations, multilaterals, the U.S. government, states, and localities to use this proven tool. Since 2019, Executive Order 13899, based on the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act, has urged federal agencies to use the IHRA Working Definition to identify antisemitism when enforcing Title VI. Because Executive Orders are impermanent, Congress should reintroduce and pass the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act.
Sources of domestic antisemitism | AJC’s Translate Hate glossary helps expose antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols that often hide in plain sight. Members of Congress can share it on their websites as a resource for constituents. AJC’s Recognizing when Anti-Israel Actions Become Antisemitic is designed to help elected officials navigate and address Israel-related antisemitism.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Issue unequivocal condemnations | Elected officials should speak out loudly and clearly, raising awareness that antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem, but an assault on American values. They often can reach a broad social media audience, or issue statements or resolutions, affirming that anti-Jewish hate has no place in the community. Leaders must confront antisemitism head-on, calling out hatred within their own party before pointing fingers across the aisle.
Depoliticize the fight against antisemitism | While bipartisanship has been critical to U.S. success in countering hatred of Jews in the U.S. and abroad, the fight against antisemitism is increasingly politicized. When considered only through a partisan lens, antisemitism is not being countered, but instrumentalized.
Engage the community | When an antisemitic incident occurs, members of Congress should check in with their local Jewish communities. A standing Jewish community or interfaith advisory board can help ensure regular communication.
Improve hate crime reporting | In 2020, Jews were the target of 55% of all religiously motivated hate crimes, despite accounting for just 2% of the U.S. population. As astonishing as that number is, many hate crimes are not reported to law enforcement by victims and nearly 90 percent of cities do not report hate crime data to the FBI. An insufficient grasp of the problem impedes efforts to find solutions. The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, signed into law in May 2021, establishes grants to incentivize reporting; robust funding of at least $15 million is necessary.
Protect Jewish institutions | Through funding and legislation, Congress plays a crucial role in safeguarding Jewish institutions. The 2018 Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act protects synagogues, community centers, and nonprofits against threats of force. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program provides $360 million in security funding for high-risk nonprofits. Additionally, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, already passed in the House, should be passed by the Senate to authorize dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.
Prevent online threats | Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and some platforms are calling to reform Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to hold social media companies liable for content on their platforms. Bills like the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act would hold social media companies accountable if their algorithmic amplification of content leads to offline violence. Other bills, such as the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act, the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act, and the 2019 Filter Bubble Transparency Act address algorithms and the role of content moderators. Bipartisan, common sense federal reforms like these should be fully examined. For clarity and consistency, we must ensure one solution, not 50 individual state solutions, sufficiently addresses the problem.
Encourage media literacy | A number of recent antisemitic attacks originated on social media, where posts and videos demonizing Israel were viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times. Congress should allocate resources for media literacy programs educating about the urgent need to check sources and question bias, especially online and on social media.
Strengthen education on Jews, antisemitism, and the Holocaust | A 2020 survey on Holocaust knowledge among American millennials and Gen Z conducted by the Claims Conference found that 63 percent of respondents did not know that six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and 36 percent thought “two million or fewer Jews” were killed. The Never Again Education Act, signed into law in 2020, promotes U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum educational programming around the country. As only 39 states mandate Holocaust education, Congress should continue to fund and incentivize education on Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the contributions of Jews to America. Relatedly, Congressional staff should be trained to identify and respond to antisemitism, including Holocaust denial and distortion.
Participate in caucuses and coalitions | Congressional caucuses model the power of coalitions to condemn hate, support vulnerable communities, and raise awareness. With more than 150 Representatives, and more than half the Senate, the House and Senate Bipartisan Taskforces reflect the political will to address the problem, which should lead to increased legislative measures.
Local / State Government Action Items
State and local elected officials are often on the front line of combating antisemitism, protecting Jewish communities, and supporting American values. They can leverage resources to protect Jewish security, establish structures to prevent and address hate, and prevent the politicization of antisemitism. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism is globally recognized as the authoritative definition. Adopted or endorsed by more than half of U.S. states and dozens of local municipalities, it is a proven, flexible tool to identify antisemitism.
AJC’s Translate Hate glossary helps identify and expose antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols that often hide in plain sight. Elected officials and departments of education can share resources such as Translate Hate on their websites for educators and constituents. Public libraries around the country can offer copies. Resources like AJC’s Recognizing when Anti-Israel Actions Become Antisemitic can help officials identify and respond to Israel-related antisemitism.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Issue unequivocal condemnations | When an incident occurs, elected officials should speak out loudly and clearly using their broad reach, raising awareness that antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem, but an assault on American values. Leaders must confront antisemitism head-on, especially when it emanates from colleagues, from those within their party, and/or their offices or staff.
Depoliticize the fight against antisemitism | Antisemitism has been increasingly politicized. When considered only through a partisan lens, antisemitism is not being countered, but instrumentalized. Politicians must call out hatred within their party, before pointing fingers across the aisle. Bipartisanship is critical to American success in countering hatred of Jews in the U.S. and abroad.
Establish institutional mechanisms | Mayors, governors, and municipal leaders should tap a point person to be a central address for the Jewish community, especially when a security need arises. Many elected leaders have Jewish advisory groups or interfaith/interethnic taskforces. Jews appreciate when official calendars (schools, elections, etc.) consider major Jewish holidays.
Encourage reporting of hate crimes | In 2020, Jews were the target of 55% of all religiously motivated hate crimes, despite accounting for just 2% of the U.S. population. As astonishing as that number is, many hate crimes go unreported to law enforcement by victims and nearly 90 percent of cities do not submit hate crime data to the FBI. It is impossible to address hate crimes when we do not understand their extent. Local governments can leverage Department of Justice resources for hate crimes bias training and establishing hate crimes hotlines.
Examine bail laws | States should examine existing bail laws to ensure that violent offenses, especially hate crimes, are included on the list of offenses for which a judge may order bail. For example, New York mandates that persons charged with less than class D felonies may not be detained and may not be subject to a bail requirement, which often deters victims from reporting instances or pursuing criminal charges. Because nearly all antisemitic attacks are less than class D felonies, victimizers walk out of court with what appears to be impunity.
Invest in Jewish community security | Increased threats necessitate additional resources for community security. Synagogues, Jewish educational and cultural sites, and individuals must receive the protection and security training they need. Local authorities can encourage religiously affiliated institutions to apply for nonprofit security grants from the Department of Homeland Security to fund physical security enhancements for high-risk nonprofits.
Implement a comprehensive strategy | Elected officials should consider an action plan to outline a comprehensive state or city-wide strategy to respond to and prevent antisemitism. The appointment of a designated official to facilitate and streamline coordination is recommended. Relatedly, the staff of elected officials should be trained to identify and respond to antisemitism.
Convene stakeholders | Local elected officials can convene community partners—as well as law enforcement—to discuss antisemitism and hate crimes, and create a diverse network of community leaders.
Encourage media literacy | Several recent attacks against Jews originated on social media. Following the Hamas-instigated conflict in Israel in May 2021, posts and videos demonizing Israel were viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times. State and local governments, via informal and formal education, can raise awareness about the need to check sources and question bias. State and local governments should promote media and digital literacy and critical thinking, especially among educators.
Strengthen education on Jews, antisemitism, and the Holocaust | Thirty-nine states have mandated Holocaust education and yet a recent Claims Conference study found most Millennials and Gen Z lack basic knowledge of the Holocaust. Short of mandatory Holocaust education, state and local governments can urge responsible formal or informal educational opportunities to educate youth about the Holocaust. In addition, educational curricula should include Jewish history and the contributions of Jews to America.
Include Jews in ethnic studies curricula | As states consider ethnic studies curricula, lessons should include Jews, Jewish history and contribution to America, Jewish diversity, and contemporary antisemitism. Because antisemitism presents itself in unique forms, teachers should be trained both to teach about the topic accurately and to be alert to its presence in the classroom.
Law Enforcement Action Items
Protecting Jewish life must be a top priority. In 2020, American Jews reported that 56% of their religious institutions increased security after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. In 2021, 24% said their Jewish institutions had been targeted by graffiti, threats, or attacks over the past five years. And in the last year, one in four American Jews was the target of antisemitism—as a physical attack, or a remark in person or online. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
Law enforcement on all levels—federal to local—would benefit from operating with a universal understanding of what constitutes a hate crime, especially when looking at a multifaceted issue like antisemitism. For example, during the January 2022 hostage crisis in Colleyville, Texas, the FBI erred saying it “was not related to the Jewish community.” They later corrected the record, reinforcing that many in law enforcement need to deepen awareness of the multiple faces of antisemitism—more than a religious bias, it is also a conspiracy about Jewish power and control.
The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, including its illustrative examples, can provide important clarity for law enforcement on all forms of antisemitism. The authoritative definition of antisemitism is a proven, valuable tool for law enforcement entities in the U.S. and abroad.
AJC’s Translate Hate is a glossary of antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols that often hide in plain sight. It can help educate law enforcement officers on antisemitism they may encounter, and law enforcement agencies can share it on their websites as a resource for the community.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Cooperate with the Jewish community | While today 66% of American Jews believe law enforcement is effective in responding to the needs of the Jewish community, that number is a sharp drop from 81% in 2019. To help ensure community needs are being met, agencies can tap a point person to be a central address for the Jewish community when a security need arises. The Jewish Community’s Secure Community Network, which works closely with the Department of Homeland Security, can provide the needed expertise.
Report hate crimes | Astonishingly, 60 cities with populations of over 100,000—including Miami, Grand Rapids, Syracuse, and Anaheim—reported zero hate crimes in 2020, according to the FBI. Local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily submit hate crimes data to the FBI, per the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act. But inaccurate, incomplete, and simply absent hate crime data has stymied efforts to formulate effective responses. Vast gaps in reporting must be closed.
Law enforcement agencies across the country should use the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), to collect and share more accurate data with the FBI. Law enforcement can take advantage of Department of Justice resources—increasingly available, bolstered by the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act—for hate crimes bias training and establishing hate crimes hotlines.
Prosecute consistently | Antisemitic hate crimes must be prosecuted with greater consistency and to the fullest extent of the law. If they are not, it sends a message to potential perpetrators that it is permissible to commit a hate crime because it will not be taken as seriously.
Promote awareness among the legal community | Attorneys should be aware of the many ways antisemitism can manifest: not just as a religious crime, or a crime motivated by white nationalists, but one inspired by stereotypes, scapegoating, or conspiracy theories.
Raise awareness | Understanding antisemitism and its patterns can help prevent it. Law enforcement should arrange for training opportunities for officers and recruits about the different ways antisemitism can manifest. By planning for predictable increases in antisemitic incidents—during elections, Jewish holidays, and conflicts within the Middle East—law enforcement can safeguard local Jewish communities and prevent attacks before they occur.
Protect Jewish institutions | Law enforcement plays a crucial role in safeguarding synagogues, Jewish community centers, and nonprofit organizations. The 2018 Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act protects all religiously affiliated property against threats of force.
Empower the Jewish community | Law enforcement should encourage Jewish institutions to apply for nonprofit security grants from the Department of Homeland Security, which provide funds to nonprofit organizations for physical security enhancements and activities. Additionally, Jewish community members, particularly leaders in Jewish institutions and synagogues, should participate in security training to be prepared in case of an emergency. Community members can also be trained as volunteer security guards.
Encourage reporting of hate incidents | AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America report found that in 2021, 2.6% of respondents, or 37 American Jews were the target of an antisemitic attack, yet only half reported the incident to the police. While these numbers are too small to extrapolate, they reveal a broader issue of underreporting. One reason why many Jews do not report is that they believe nothing will change (resignation in fighting antisemitism) and/or it is not serious enough (normalization of antisemitism). Law enforcement should engage with the Jewish community and encourage reporting.
Social Media Companies Action Items
Roughly one in eight (12%) American Jews were targeted by an antisemitic remark or post online in the last 12 months. One in four (25%) American Jews have avoided posting content online that would identify them as Jewish or reveal their views on Jewish issues; this number jumps to 34% for young Jews, ages 18-29. While lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and some platforms are calling for increased regulation, social media companies must affirm that antisemitism will not be permitted or facilitated on their platforms. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
Social media companies should employ the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism across their platforms. This will allow artificial intelligence and human moderators to be more consistent and more effective in either content removal or demotion of all forms of antisemitism on their platforms. They can also utilize resources, such as Translate Hate, an online glossary of antisemitic tropes and phrases, to improve media literacy on antisemitism.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Ensure transparency | Social media companies should be transparent in the drafting of policies, algorithms, and moderation systems and abide by a set of core principles that will earn public trust. Social media companies must correct the algorithms which allow hate to cross-pollinate and grow. Additionally, information on the impact of algorithms on the proliferation of antisemitic and hateful content should be made public. Social media companies should also regularly publish information about the impact of moderation systems, including the number of human moderators addressing online hate, the training that such moderators receive, and procedures for reinstating content that has been incorrectly removed.
Improve moderation systems | Moderation systems can be improved and harmonized to ensure moderators are accurately and equally implementing policies and community standards. In the rapidly evolving space of online antisemitism—which relies on memes, coded language or images, and implicit speech—non-human regulatory models are not fast enough. Social media companies should use the IHRA Working Definition to train content moderators, and moderators must be trained regularly as antisemitism morphs and changes. Moderators who are not fluent in English need to be trained in their native language to understand company policies related to antisemitism as well as how to recognize the antisemitism coming from within their own historical, linguistic, political, religious, and economic contexts. Finally, safeguards should exist to allow judgments deeming content to be antisemitic to be appealed and reviewed.
Promote counterspeech | Social media companies can play a powerful role in reminding users that it is incumbent on all of us to engage in counterspeech, correct false narratives, drown out hateful voices, and push antisemites back to the far-fringes of the Internet where they belong—far removed from mainstream platforms and access to impressionable minds. Social media companies can partner with Jewish organizations in the fight against antisemitism on their platforms.
Today, the fight against antisemitism is primarily taking place in the digital world. Social media companies themselves have the biggest responsibility to ensure their platforms are not used as launching pads for conspiracies, antisemitism, and hatred. Freedom of speech does not absolve them of corporate responsibility.
Improve policies | Social media companies should establish community standards indicating that antisemitic speech will not be permitted on their platforms and that they will not facilitate access to services that do not prohibit it. Relatedly, they must guarantee appropriate safeguards to allow initial judgments deeming content to be antisemitic (or not) to be appealed and reviewed. To effectively do this, the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, as the global, authoritative definition of antisemitism, should be incorporated within community standards.
Strengthen education on Jews, antisemitism, and the Holocaust | Social media companies can provide accurate information or redirect users to accurate information, such as resources about the Holocaust. They must also address the increasing challenge of inappropriate mass reporting. Jewish users and Jewish accounts have been harassed and mass-flagged, even when they did not do anything wrong.
Establish new positions | Social media companies should hire a point person focused on the Jewish diaspora to both listen to the concerns of Jewish communities around the world and work with senior leadership within the company so structural changes happen to ensure antisemitism is understood, recognized, and properly addressed. Additionally, companies should assign user researchers to the Jewish community to better understand how Jewish users experience antisemitism and hate on their platform so proper changes can be made.
Enhance Jewish community outreach | A number of social media companies have consistent outreach with Jewish communal leaders. For those who do not, consider starting regular meetings with Jewish stakeholders. In addition, social media companies can work with Jewish community partners to host Town Hall style events or trainings to educate the community at large on how their platforms address hate.
Media Action Items
The media play a critical role in determining what Americans pay attention to and what they know about the issues shaping our country and our world. The media can raise awareness about antisemitism and hold leaders accountable. They have the power to inform and prevent. Please note the big-picture suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
Identify terms and tropes | Antisemitism can be difficult to pinpoint because it is motivated by disparate ideologies. It is important for reporters and journalists to remember that antisemitism can take many forms, not just swastikas sprayed outside a synagogue or graves desecrated at a Jewish cemetery, for example. Holocaust denial and distortion are an expression of antisemitism as well as the trivialization of the Holocaust. Casual references to Hitler and the Nazis, while not necessarily antisemitic, are at the very least insensitive and inappropriate. Conspiracies of Jewish power and control continue to threaten the well-being of Jewish communities.
AJC’s Translate Hate is a visual glossary to expose antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols that often hide in plain sight. In print or online, Translate Hate can be used to explain why something is antisemitic.
Recognize the difference between criticism of Israel and antisemitism | A great deal of antisemitism is cloaked under the guise of criticism of Israel. There are numerous examples that show how anti-Israel statements and actions can become antisemitic. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, the authoritative definition of antisemitism, provides practical examples that provide context to determine whether something is antisemitic. Examples include discrimination and hatred of Jews, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and distortion, and antisemitism related to Israel.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Questions to consider | When covering an antisemitic or anti-Israel incident, ask:
- What is the narrative being conveyed? Are stereotypes or tropes being employed?
- Who is the authoritative voice being quoted? Is it a fringe or a mainstream perspective?
- Who can I contact to help understand the issues in greater depth, or for other questions about Judaism, the Jewish community, Israel, or other Jewish-related issues?
- What is the headline being considered? Does it highlight the offensive nature of the incident?
- How is the Jewish community after the incident is over? How did it impact them? Have they changed their behavior or religious practice as a result?
Engage the Jewish community | Build relationships with the Jewish community and circle back after something happens. What was the impact? How did it change their behavior or that of their neighbors? Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem. It is a societal one. It is not only an attack on Jews but an assault on the core values of any democratic and pluralistic society.
Report consistently | In May 2021, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Jews were attacked on the street, synagogues were vandalized, protesters carried antisemitic signs, and hateful rhetoric proliferated on social media. Yet, over half of all Americans were unaware of it. The continuous attacks on Haredi Jews in New York have received little media attention from non-Jewish media outlets. When the media does not report, Jewish communities—and victims—may feel marginalized.
Report accurately about Jews | Media coverage can shape public perceptions, not just of antisemitism, but of Jews and Judaism. There are numerous instances in which an antisemitic attack against a Jew occurred, yet media outlets aired only images of “visibly Jewish” Orthodox Jews. Accuracy in reporting can help raise awareness vital for prevention.
Guard against visual displays of hate | When an antisemitic incident is being covered on television and other visual media outlets, media outlets should consider whether blurring hateful symbols and words can prevent the dissemination of hate, or whether sharing the images within an educational context can show the impact it has on the Jewish community. Context is critical. Antisemites often seek public attention and the media can inadvertently feed that desire. At the same time, media outlets are responsible for educating their audiences.
Challenge antisemitism, including Holocaust trivialization | Reporters and journalists should be trained in how to respond if a person being interviewed says something antisemitic or inappropriately distorts the Holocaust. When this happens, the media has the power to hold offenders accountable and demand public apologies. AJC’s Translate Hate can be used to explain why something is antisemitic.
Know who to call | While the Jewish community is diverse—politically, religiously, ethnically, and in every other way—there are sources who represent mainstream perspectives. The local Jewish Federation, the leaders of large local synagogues, and of course the local AJC office are good places to start. Reporters and journalists should keep at the ready a list of unbiased resources on antisemitism and issues related to Israel to make sure they are correctly interpreting an incident or a statement and its antisemitic implications.
Reduce bias | Antisemitism emerges from the far-left, the far-right, and religious extremists. The media should be aware of the sources of antisemitism and raise awareness among their audiences as well. Media outlets with an ideological bent should report on antisemitism within their own encampment, as well as on the opposite side.
Strengthen education on Jews, antisemitism, and the Holocaust | Because the media play a major role in shaping public perceptions of Jews and Judaism, journalists should continue to develop best practices for reporting about antisemitism and Jewish issues. Attacks on Jews remain the majority of all religious-bias hate crimes in America, yet many Americans have never even met a Jew, and only know about Jews and Judaism through what they watch and read. AJC has helped train media corporations, from the Kentucky Courier-Journal to the E.W. Scripps Media Company, about just this topic, and offers trainings about antisemitism regularly. Journalists and reporters should be trained to identify antisemitic terms and tropes.
Be prepared for patterns | There are days and events which are likely to trigger antisemitic incidents. Antisemitism spikes historically around three key areas: during elections, Jewish holidays, and when there is an uptick in violence in the Middle East.
Improve company policies | Media outlets can consider implementing a comprehensive policy on how to address antisemitism, either for internal use or to share with concerned audiences. Including the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism in such policies provides clarity and authority.
Corporate Action Items
American leadership in the private sector plays a critical role in fighting all forms of hatred, including anti-Jewish hate, and promoting inclusive environments. Fostering greater sensitivity to concerns of Jewish employees can prevent antisemitism in the workplace and increase the sense of belonging of Jewish employees. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
The private sector has a pertinent role to play in fighting all forms of hatred, including anti-Jewish hate. That fight begins with understanding the problem as well as the rich diversity of the Jewish community, and empowering people to speak out. Education and training, including by incorporating understanding antisemitism within Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, can successfully promote an inclusive workplace and prevent discrimination against or harassment of Jewish employees.
To understand antisemitism, include these three pillars:
- Acknowledge Jewish peoplehood | Successful incorporation of Jews and antisemitism within DEI must recognize the diversity of the Jewish people. Jews reflect diverse racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds and express their identity in a variety of religious and cultural ways. The majority practice Judaism, or at least are culturally associated with Jewish traditions, but others are not. Many Jews are secular or atheist, but they are still Jews. At a time when antisemitism against Jews, including violence, is soaring, it is recommended that employers focus specifically on antisemitism in their education and communication as opposed to only including it within broader conversations about religious or interfaith understanding.
- Know antisemitism “looks different” than other forms of hate | While many American Jews identify as a vulnerable minority group, especially as antisemitism surges, Jews today collectively tend to be assailed for having too much privilege or too much power. This is what makes antisemitism different from other forms of hate: it rests on a conspiracy theory. Especially in today’s context of anti-racism and social justice movements, which deal explicitly with questions of power, companies must have a plan to address antisemitism specifically when Jews are attacked or face a double standard because of their perceived power. Double standards in the workplace not only are morally wrong but also expose the company to legal liability under federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws.
- Recognize Jewish ties to Israel | Many American Jews feel a historical, religious, or cultural connection to Israel, regardless of politics. Judaism as a religion is integrally tied to the land, to the city of Jerusalem, and other holy sites. Jews are from Judea (the ancient name for Israel) and have lived continuously in the region for thousands of years. Coming out of two millennia of persecution, not least the Holocaust, many Jews see Israel as the only place where they can live free from fear and persecution. While it is not antisemitic to criticize Israel, denying Jews’ right to national self-determination, calling for the elimination of Israel, solely focusing on Israel but no other country, and/or attributing to Jews actual or perceived wrongs by the Israeli government is antisemitism.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Issue unequivocal condemnations | Company CEOs and senior leaders must speak out loudly and clearly against all forms of antisemitism. If an antisemitic incident or series of anti-Jewish attacks occurs, the company should publish a statement or resolution condemning antisemitism, at the very least internally, to the same degree that other forms of hate are called out. Corporate leadership should ensure antisemitism is called out unambiguously, unequivocally, and specifically. Unfortunately, it has become all too common for companies to issue universal condemnations of hate that fail even to mention the anti-Jewish character of the incident, or list antisemitism among a list of hateful “isms” when it was just the Jewish community targeted. For a template for employers, please see the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) resolution.
Create clear policies and practices on discrimination and harassment | As more companies engage in social justice issues, they need a firm policy that elucidates the company’s zero tolerance stance toward antisemitism. When providing examples of harassment in company policy and training, also include obvious and more subtle examples of anti-Jewish harassment. When providing training on conscious and implicit bias, include examples involving Jews. Such actions not only will help minimize legal exposure but will also help assure Jewish employees that their workplace is a safe space to express their full identity and that anti-Jewish bias has no place in the company.
Address harassment | Policies and training are necessary, but they are not sufficient. For cultural and legal reasons, management generally must respond to anti-Jewish harassment—even if there is no complaint or objection—if management sees, hears, or otherwise becomes aware of it, even if it was intended as a “joke.” All employees, managers, and non-managers alike, should also be given alternative ways to raise concerns, both internally and externally.
Listen to Jewish employees | Regularly connect with Jewish employees and seek their opinions and recommendations to create a culture of inclusion and respond to antisemitism. Honor the progressive principle of allyship and listen to their lived experiences. As with others raising concerns about bias, treat Jewish individuals alleging anti-Jewish bias with respect, take their complaints seriously, and investigate and take corrective action as appropriate.
Include Jewish employees in DEI | The “I” in DEI stands for inclusion and that means everyone. Acknowledge Jewish holidays and other important days and events to the Jewish community, such as Holocaust Remembrance Day or Jewish American Heritage Month. Invite Jewish employees to share their stories in the same way other groups are invited to do so. Accommodate Jewish religious beliefs, practices, and observances where reasonable and without an undue hardship. That is a legal duty. Bottom line: include Jewish employees in the rich mosaic of diversity.
Raise awareness | There is a need to infuse a greater focus on harassing conduct relative to Jews and Israel in official policies and training. Build awareness of Jewish concerns and unconscious bias about Jews. Actively counter harmful stereotypes about Jews.
Strengthen education on Jews, antisemitism, and the Holocaust | Companies should hold trainings on antisemitism for their employees. They can support Jewish employees by promoting employee resource groups, including one for Jewish staff; and they should consider issuing both internal and external statements when issues of antisemitism arise.
AJC’s Translate Hate, a glossary of antisemitic tropes and phrases, can be an invaluable tool for corporations as they train employees about antisemitism and sensitivity to Jewish issues.
Establish a plan | Create a plan that holistically addresses antisemitism. Antisemitism often increases during elections and political incidents, during Jewish holidays, and during flare-ups of issues in the Middle East. Be prepared for these patterns to provide additional support for Jewish employees, if necessary.
Be an ally | Even before instances of antisemitism occur, be an ally to Jewish employees. Provide support to Jewish colleagues in a similar way as other minority groups.
Coalition Partners Action Items
The American Jewish community cannot fight antisemitism alone—it requires leaders and people of good faith, from religious, ethnic, and racial communities across the ideological spectrum, to join in the fight. Non-Jewish voices need to raise awareness that antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem, but an assault on the core values of pluralism, freedom, and democracy that Americans hold dear. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
Recognize antisemitic tropes, stereotypes, and terms| AJC created the Translate Hate glossary to help identify different sources of antisemitism and expose antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols that often hide in plain sight. Part of being a strong ally is constant education. Translate Hate is a useful tool for new and longtime allies of the Jewish community.
Understand the Jewish connection to Israel | We also ask civil society to learn why Jews are so strongly connected to Israel. Judaism as a religion is integrally tied to the land, to the city of Jerusalem, and other holy sites. Jews are from Judea—the ancient name for Israel—and have lived continuously in the region for thousands of years; and, coming out of two millennia of persecution, not least the Holocaust, many Jews see Israel as the only place where they can live free from fear and persecution. An attack on Jews or their houses of worship because of their connection to or support of the Jewish state is a form of antisemitism. When Jews face double standards, like being asked for their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict before being included in social justice causes when no other ethnic or religious group is asked about their connections to another country, that can be antisemitism.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Support partners in need | When an antisemitic attack occurs, public messages of solidarity and support from partners are deeply appreciated. In many instances, Jews feel as though hatred of them is ignored, discounted, or not taken as seriously as other forms of hate and bigotry. For example, Americans were mostly unaware of the 80% increase in domestic antisemitism in May 2021. While 71% of U.S. Jews heard a lot or something about Jews being attacked in the U.S. and around the world, only 48% of U.S. adults heard a lot or something. Partners speaking out loudly and clearly does not only engender goodwill toward the Jewish community, but it also raises vital awareness of hate in America more broadly. Those who hate Jews are likely to hate other minority groups, and pose a threat to our democracy. This also applies to online antisemitism where non-Jewish voices calling out blatant or subtle hate can prevent dissemination and highlight dangerous trends.
Use your platform | One of the most impactful ways partners can help in responding to antisemitism is to use their collective voice to raise awareness and show allyship through public statements or social media messages.
Do not turn a blind eye | Leaders of religious, ethnic, and racial groups should refrain from amplifying antisemitic messages and avoid coalitions that exclude Jews, deny the right of Jews to self-determination in their ancestral homeland, or demonize the Jewish state. Anti-Israel statements and actions can be a form of antisemitism, and coalition partners should have a nuanced and balanced understanding of the State of Israel and the people who live there.
Raise awareness | Civil society is one of the most important factors in lowering the levels of antisemitism in the U.S. If civil society, including faith and ethnic leaders, decries all forms of antisemitism, does not ignore or minimize it, and pushes antisemites and those who express antisemitism to the fringes of society, America will be a safer place not only for Jews, but for everyone.
Acknowledge problems within one's own community | Non-Jewish voices have a unique ability to be heard when explaining what antisemitism is and why it is a societal problem. We are more likely to accept information when it comes from someone we know and trust. Learning about the various antisemitic tropes, triggers, and code words helps identify and address the specific instances and types of antisemitism that may arise within our own communities.
Strengthen education on Jews, antisemitism, and the Holocaust | The importance of education in the fight against hatred cannot be overstated. For coalition partners, learning about Jewish history and the societal problem of antisemitism can help develop a deeper understanding of Jews, their values, their fears, and the need for non-Jewish bystanders to not stay quiet in the face of Jewish attacks. This is why Holocaust education plays a critical role in better understanding where unchecked antisemitism can lead.
Include Jews in ethnic studies curricula | As coalition partners, work with the Jewish community to ensure lessons in schools include Jews, Jewish history and contribution to America, Jewish diversity, and contemporary antisemitism. Racism, antisemitism, and discrimination are an important part of our history, and our children should learn from our mistakes as we continue to strive to be a more perfect union.
Educational Institutions Action Items
Anti-Jewish prejudice is a growing concern on U.S. college campuses and at an increasing number of secondary schools. In the last five years, 42% of American Jewish college students or parents of college students reported that they have known someone who experienced antisemitism in a college setting. 54% said anti-Israel campaigns, such as the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, were a problem for Jewish students.
Educational institutions have the responsibility to protect students, staff, and faculty from antisemitism, harassment, and hostile campus environment that are the results of real or perceived Jewish and/or pro-Israel identities. Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance, including from the U.S. Department of Education. The law protects Jews from antisemitic harassment or other forms of discrimination, including those based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.
First and foremost, universities and secondary schools should work to incorporate the “3 A’s” into their policies: Awareness, Allyship, and Action. They are incorporated below and can be found in full here.
Raise awareness | Show awareness of campus antisemitism and name it as an essential element of campus commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
Use the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as a resource | Reporting antisemitism, offering trainings, and creating committees to combat the problem should all be rooted in a foundational understanding of what antisemitism is. Put simply, we cannot address something we cannot define. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism is a clear and concise description of antisemitism in its various forms, including conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial, prejudices against Jews, and the denial of Israel’s right to exist. Today, it is the most widely adopted and used definition of antisemitism in the world, employed by over 800 entities, including over 30 governments. This definition is a non-binding educational tool for identifying and understanding antisemitism. It is expressly not intended to censor valid criticism of Israel. Educational institutions must make it clear that in identifying antisemitism, there is no institutional restriction on protected speech.
Share resources with students | AJC’s Translate Hate, an online and in-print glossary, is a powerful, visual educational tool for students to identify antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols that often hide in plain sight. Public libraries in cities around the country have begun offering copies as a resource for readers; educational institutions can also use this model.
RESPONDING TO ANTISEMITISM
Condemn unequivocally | It is essential that university and secondary school administrations issue clear and unwavering statements condemning antisemitism when incidents occur on campus, or elsewhere if they regularly issue statements on external events. These statements should specifically name antisemitism and avoid performatively adding reference to other forms of hatred and bigotry. Such language diminishes the seriousness with which fighting antisemitism should be addressed.
Have a clear policy about antisemitism | Using the IHRA Working Definition as a guide, ensure clarity as to what is considered antisemitism on campus. In particular, it is critical to differentiate between legitimate criticism of the State of Israel and antisemitic rhetoric and exclusion measures. Institutions should be aware of the ramifications of campus initiatives and events that create a hostile environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students, such as inflammatory and violent rhetoric on “apartheid walls” and the like. It should be made clear that it is antisemitic to exclude Jewish students or groups from campus social justice spaces because of their support for Israel, particularly when no other ethnic or religious group is asked about their connections to another country.
Enhance bias reporting policies and procedures| All universities and secondary schools should have a clear and transparent mechanism for students to report antisemitism and should be transparent about the measures taken in response to such reports. Antisemitism should be treated with the same seriousness as other forms of bigotry.
Establish a standing committee/task force to address campus antisemitism | Secondary schools and universities should create committees or task forces to combat antisemitism comprised of administrators, faculty, and Jewish students (as well as Jewish parents in secondary school spaces). Such committees or task forces will not only address incidents of antisemitism as they arise but will also proactively work to prevent antisemitism and to foster an inclusive environment for Jewish students.
Be an ally | Demonstrate solidarity with Jewish students, including:
- Model “tone at the top” attention and concern for Jewish students’ rights and needs together with those of other groups.
- Issue presidential statements condemning antisemitic incidents when they occur.
- Show up in person at Jewish student events and celebrations.
Integrate antisemitism as a focus within DEI | During freshman orientation in high schools and on college campuses, students receive several mandatory trainings including anti-harassment training and anti-racism training. Antisemitism is rarely included. Particularly on the heels of this past year’s surge in antisemitism, we are encouraging educational institutions to integrate antisemitism as a focus within DEI and in student trainings related to DEI, including first-year and transfer students’ orientations. AJC is happy to furnish guidance on how to provide such training.
Open lines of communication with Jewish and pro-Israel students | On campuses nationwide, Jewish and pro-Israel students have reported a sense of isolation, including at times from the administration, leading them to conclude that their concerns are not recognized. This can be remedied, at least in part, by regular formal points of contact with Jewish students, such as scheduled meetings with Jewish student leaders and visits to Jewish student gatherings and programs. It can also be remedied by having administrators check in with—and express their concern for—Jewish students following antisemitic events in America or around the world.
Foster relationship-building programs | Universities are encouraged to create programs which build relationships among diverse student religious and cultural groups.
Enhance campus awareness of Judaism and Jewish culture and practice | Ensuring accommodation of Jewish observances, including Shabbat, major Jewish holidays, and dietary requirements, will help Jewish students feel included on campus.
Support varied academic perspectives | Students taking classes on Jewish history, Zionism, Israel-Palestine, and related topics should be exposed to multiple perspectives. Often Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist voices are not included in these conversations. Universities should consider offering courses on antisemitism, which would address historical and contemporary antisemitism in all its forms.
Encourage media literacy | Research shows that misinformation and conspiracy theories spread through unscrupulous media outlets and on social media have the potential to impact not only people’s beliefs but also their actions. Indeed, many perpetrators of recent physical attacks against Jews in America were shown to have been influenced by and contributed to the virulent antisemitic content on various social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. As conspiracy theories take an ever-growing hold on social media, robust education on the importance of critical thinking and interrogation of sources for bias and untruths is critical.
ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Include Jews and antisemitism in ethnic studies and other DEI curricula | The importance of education in the fight against antisemitism cannot be overstated. General programs designed to combat racism and intolerance provide an important framework, especially for diverse and multicultural societies. However, on many campuses and secondary schools today antisemitism is not considered within these frameworks. If educational efforts to combat antisemitism are to truly succeed, special attention must be paid to the specificity of the problem. As states consider ethnic studies curricula and other curricular content that addresses diversity and combating intolerance, lessons should include Jews, Jewish history and contribution to America, Jewish diversity, and contemporary antisemitism. As antisemitism presents itself in unique forms, teachers should be trained both to teach about the topic accurately and to be alert to its presence in the classroom. Finally, anti-Israel animus can be a form of antisemitism, and students should have a nuanced and balanced understanding of the State of Israel and the people who live there.
Strengthen secondary school education on the Holocaust | Holocaust education plays a critical role in understanding where unchecked antisemitism can lead. A nationwide 2020 survey of Millennials and Gen Z on Holocaust knowledge conducted by the Claims Conference found a clear lack of awareness of key historical facts; 63 percent of respondents did not know that six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust and 36 percent thought that “two million or fewer Jews” were killed. Because antisemitism did not end with the Holocaust, Holocaust education should include examples of contemporary antisemitism, using the lessons of the Holocaust to emphasize to students that it is incumbent on everyone to speak out against hatred both on and offline. Students, parents, and educators should review the laws around Holocaust instruction in their state. If the state does not mandate Holocaust education, call on local elected officials, school boards, and principals to include it in curriculum requirements, utilizing the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s educational materials. If the state does have Holocaust education curriculum guidelines, urge elected officials to conduct an audit of the efficacy of the Holocaust education provided.
Guard against bias related to Israel | Secondary schools have a responsibility to ensure that discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not biased or one-sided. In the context of any study of the conflict, students should be taught about Jewish historical connections to the land of Israel, and that Judaism as a religion is integrally tied to the land, to the city of Jerusalem, and other holy sites. Many students do not know that Jews are from Judea—the ancient name for Israel—and have lived continuously in the region for thousands of years, nor are they aware that coming out of two millennia of persecution, including the Holocaust, many Jews see Israel as the only place where they can live free from fear and persecution. Additionally, as part of any study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, students should be taught the history of Zionism as a movement of national liberation, and the diversity and modernity of contemporary Israeli society.