Combating Anti-Semitism

January 2019

Combating Antisemitism

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA),  reaffirms and expands its commitment to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad. HWZOA deplores the increase in threats and acts of violence  perpetrated against Jewish institutions, synagogues and Jewish  individuals around the world.

The United States is experiencing an alarming increase in anti-Semitic  incidents and attacks. October 2018 witnessed the deadliest attack  committed against Jews in American history when a gunman opened fire at  worshippers in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania,  murdering 11 and wounding many more. This represents a significant  escalation from last year where a rising number of incidents including  anti-Semitic graffiti, hate speech and digital harassment, bomb threats  and Jewish cemetery desecrations occurred. Additionally, white  nationalist groups, which have increased their membership and activity,  are receiving greater attention from the political mainstream. Many of  these groups include outspoken neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. 

Recent studies in both the United States and Europe show that the  Holocaust is fading from public memory, though many acknowledge that  Holocaust education is still necessary. A survey conducted by the  Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany revealed staggering  statistics about a lack of basic knowledge of the Holocaust among  Americans: 31% of all Americans and 41% of millennials think that fewer  than 2 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust; almost half of all  Americans polled cannot name a single concentration camp, despite the  fact that there were over 40,000 during WWII; 58% believe that something  similar to the Holocaust could happen again, and more than 90% believe  that all students should learn about the Holocaust in school. In Europe,  over one-third of those polled responded that they knew “just a little”  or “nothing at all” about the Holocaust, and one-third said that Jews  today use the Holocaust to advance their own positions or gains.

Throughout the Muslim world, political and religious leaders frequently  use anti-Semitic vitriol in statements. Schools use anti-Semitic  curricula and state-sponsored, produced and distributed anti-Semitic  materials. Schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency  (UNRWA), which operates in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza  Strip, teach with text books promoting Jihad (holy war) against Israel  and Jews, espousing martyrdom, and using maps of the Middle East that do  not have Israel on them-- all of this is against UN Charter  guidelines. 

In Europe, anti-Semitic political parties—such as Jobbik in Hungary,  Rassemblement National in France, the Labour Party in the UK, Golden  Dawn in Greece, the Law and Justice Party in Poland, and the  Identitarian Movement (IB) in Germany—have caused great concern for  local Jewish communities. According to a study by the European Union  Agency for Fundamental Rights, many European Jews reported a rise in  anti-Semitism in their countries and avoid wearing kippot or other  Jewish symbols in public because they fear for their personal safety. A  recent CNN poll revealed that over a quarter of Europeans in the cross  section of 7,000 polled believe that Jews have too much influence in  business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much  influence in conflict and wars across the world. One in five said that  Jews have too much influence in the media and in politics.

Hadassah calls on all governments and religious leaders to end practices  of incitement and hatred in all forms. Hadassah calls on the UN  Secretary General, all heads of UN bodies and member states to denounce  anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric. Hadassah calls on the UN to stop  funding UNRWA until anti-Semitic curricula are removed. Hadassah calls  on all nations and international bodies to establish or intensify their  efforts to track, investigate and prosecute those responsible for  anti-Semitic hate crimes, and to expand Holocaust and anti-hate  education. Hadassah also urges political and religious leaders to  denounce in the strongest possible terms all anti-Semitic attacks,  statements, and propaganda.

Hadassah calls on the United States government to:

  • Use its resources and influence to urge international leaders to act upon the issue of global anti-Semitism
  • Appoint a new Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and ensure funding to support the vital work of the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
  • Enact additional legislation to improve anti-Semitism awareness, education and training.
  • Promote collaboration and provide robust funding for the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other government agencies to combat domestic anti-Semitism in all forms.
  • Expand congressional efforts, including the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, to lead initiatives promoting tolerance worldwide, and serve as a platform to educate policymakers on this growing issue.
  • Ensure that hate crimes and threats are punished to the fullest extent of the law and strengthen penalties for threats against houses of worship, educational institutions and community centers.

In the face of anti-Semitism, anti-hate and tolerance education is more important than ever. Hadassah urges educators and policymakers at the national level to promote the passage of new federal guidelines for instruction and investment in teacher training, and new and innovative curricula to be used on a discretionary basis and to provide supplementary support.

Hadassah's Policy Statements represent the organization's official stance on a wide variety of issues facing our nation, Israel and other international matters of concern. Policy Statements are debated and voted on at national meetings by Hadassah’s national board and delegates from our membership. Once approved, statements become official policies of the organization and serve to define Hadassah's overall agenda and advocacy priorities. Hadassah, as a charitable organization classified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is prohibited from any direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, candidates for public office.