January 6, 2020 — New York
The one-day #JewishandProud social media campaign, an American Jewish Committee (AJC) initiative, is trending. Thousands of individuals across the United States and in another 36 countries around the world have been posting to Twitter and Facebook their photos and comments about their Jewish identity and against antisemitism.
“In the face of a veritable epidemic of antisemitism, Jews of all denominations are declaring today that enough is enough. We will not shy away from publicly displaying, celebrating our Jewish identity and faith,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “And we are moved by the outpouring of support from so many people of other faiths in support of Jews to live and express themselves as Jews.” Many have been using in their posts the AJC #JewishandProud sign, available at ajc.org.
The AJC #JewishandProud social media campaign comes a day after the “No Hate. No Fear.” solidarity rally against antisemitism in New York City. AJC was a cosponsor, together with four other Jewish groups, of the march across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan and rally at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.
“Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem for Jews to solve. Antisemitism is a non-Jewish problem for non-Jews to solve,” said Harris in his address to 25,000 people gathered at Cadman Plaza.
Harris, the son of Holocaust survivors, said his parents would be “spinning in their graves if they knew the reasons we are gathered here.”
“The demons are now back,” Harris continued. “Let’s be crystal clear. We at AJC have been saying, since the year 2000, in Europe and now in the U.S. that the sources of antisemitism are multiple. We need the power of government mobilized on all levels in a sustained fashion – and not episodically, not intermittently, not simply after an event.”
“We need serious prosecution, like what we have seen in Monsey. No more slaps on the wrist, no more revolving doors for the perpetrator,” said Harris. “In fact, too many victims do not even report hate crimes because they don’t believe the system will respond. People must feel confidence in the system to report attacks.”
Harris called out elected officials who “weaponize antisemitism” or “avert their eyes” when members of their own political party tweet antisemitic messages or call for boycotts of Israel. And he criticized those high schools and colleges that allow antisemitism, however it is disguised, “to infest the classroom and the quad.”
Turing to the vast universe of online activity, Harris said: “Shame on social media companies that have confused freedom of speech with corporate social responsibility. Social media must never become a cesspool for hatred, antisemitism, incitement, and recruitment.”
Lastly, referring to the launch last June by AJC of the Community of Conscience, Harris said, “We need to link arms with people of goodwill here in America and around the world because an assault on any group is an assault on any group. It is an assault on the values that bind us together as Americans. We are all endangered. We are all diminished. We are all at risk if violent hatred, whatever its source, is at work.”
The January 6 AJC #JewishandProud Day initiative came amidst surging antisemitism in the U.S., with a series of violent attacks in December alone.
In October, AJC, the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, found in its landmark survey of American Jews that 31% avoid publicly wearing, carrying or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jews, and 25% avoid certain places, events, or situations at least some of the time out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews.
Watch and read David Harris’s full speech.