Hillel hosts workshop on identifying antisemitism with Anti-Defamation League

Jess Kaplan, Co-Print Managing Editor

The Office of Campus Jewish Life and the Philadelphia Office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) co-sponsored a workshop entitled “Identifying Antisemitism When It Comes to Israel” as part of the ongoing Diversity Summit on March 27. The workshop was oriented for Jewish students to provide them with necessary tools in identifying antisemitism when it comes to the discussion of Israel. The first workshop session at 3 p.m. in the Elaine Langone Center was open to the public, while the second was a more intimate event as it was only available to members of the Jewish community and was located in the Berelson Center.

The ADL was established in 1913 as Jewish Europeans flocked to America. Reflecting on Jewish values of inclusion and inequality, the ADL promised to secure justice not only for Jewish immigrants but also for all regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or national origin. Through advocacy, education, and action, the ADL aims to destroy preconceived biases, appreciates cultural differences, and most importantly, combats antisemitism.

During her introduction to the afternoon workshop, Rabbi Chana Leslie Glazer asserted that “even in the spiritual heart of our own Jewish communities, and we are increasingly subject to unchecked hate.” She discussed how American culture has become more hostile towards minorities, immigrants, and those who do not conform. This causes Jewish individuals to fear that this bigotry could facilitate another barbarity. While antisemitism is often viewed as a “problem of the past,” Glazer stated that the white nationalist protest in August in Charlottesville, Va. and the massacre of 11 at the Tree of Life Synagogue serve as a chilling reminder that antisemitism and hatred are not dead; the two are, in fact, regaining prevalence.

Senior Associate Regional Director of the ADL Robin Burstein joined Glazer in leading the sessions. Together, they compiled scenarios that represent the anti-Israel and antisemitic language students may encounter while on campus and suggested steps one can take to combat such harmful occurrences.

The workshops also presented how the examination of the Israeli government is not inherently antisemitic, it is the way the critiques are framed. Attendees received a handout that explained how anti-Israel concerns cross the line into antisemitism in three nuanced and prudent ways: conspiracy language projecting outsized power onto Jewish individuals, demonizing language that portrays the Jewish community or Israel as uniquely evil, and perhaps the most prominent and frightening is language of erasure fully denying Israel as a Jewish state. The prevalence of this language was revealed in national case scenarios discussed during the event, which featured controversial remarks from Representative Ilhan Omar and Palestinian rights activist Miko Peled, college students’ request for enacting the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movements on their own campuses, and various news headlines about President Donald Trump’s relationship with Israel.

Burstein commented that hate is most effectively eradicated through individual action as it is the responsibility of all to stop hateful jokes, bigoted remarks, and racists thinking. “There’s a pyramid of hate, and it needs the bottom levels for the other levels to build. We need to address it at those bottom levels. We need to stop it at the level of attitude – biased attitude, or jokes and slurs,” Burstein said.

It is now the responsibility of students to make others aware of antisemitism. As Burstein said, “When one of us is threatened, all of us are threatened and we need each other to stand up together and win this fight against hate.”

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