Jewish organizations should work together to fight antisemitism - comment

Although it’s great that there are so many organizations that have decided to promote this important and existential cause, the problem is that they are not in sync with each other.

 THEN-JEWISH AGENCY chairman Isaac Herzog addresses a rally in Jerusalem last year in solidarity with Jews around the world, following a wave of antisemitic attacks. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
THEN-JEWISH AGENCY chairman Isaac Herzog addresses a rally in Jerusalem last year in solidarity with Jews around the world, following a wave of antisemitic attacks.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

During the week of Holocaust Remembrance Day, you can feel the enormity of all the diverse activity being done to promote Holocaust remembrance.

The amount of data and reports on the state of antisemitism worldwide is overwhelming. My email inbox has been jammed over the past few days with reports, surveys, studies and press releases about new phenomena relating to Jew-hatred.

Although it’s great that there are so many organizations that have decided to promote this important and existential cause, the problem is that they are not in sync with each other; they aren’t necessarily in dialogue and see themselves as competitors.

The list of organizations and government entities involved in combating antisemitism is huge: the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization, the Israeli American Council, Yad Vashem, academic institutions, think tanks, the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, Jewish umbrella organizations such as the Jewish Federations of North America, the British Board of Deputies, rabbinical organizations, Zionist federations, Jewish hasbara (public diplomacy) organizations such as StandWithUs, the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and almost every Jewish nonprofit around the world.

This is not even mentioning Israeli government bodies: the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and, of course, the President’s Office.

Demonstrators take part in an antisemitism protest outside the Labour Party headquarters in central London, Britain April 8, 2018 (credit: REUTERS/SIMON DAWSON)Demonstrators take part in an antisemitism protest outside the Labour Party headquarters in central London, Britain April 8, 2018 (credit: REUTERS/SIMON DAWSON)

The amount of time, money, resources and attention that these entities request and use is enormous. There are so many similarities and so many ways that they could have helped each other out – if only they knew how to do so.

There is a huge need to create an international forum that is led and officiated by a senior figure or entity in Israel. Out of all the Israeli players in this field, I think the most suitable official should and can be the president of Israel.

The current president, Isaac Herzog, is actually the most fit to become a convener and leader. But even after Herzog finishes his term, the office of Israel’s president is suitable to create such an entity since it is the most senior and visible national official and is a lot less political than the prime minister or the heads of national institutions.

Instead of creating yet another organization that will combat antisemitism, there should be a small and minimal entity that sees itself as a convener and facilitator. If this entity, led by the president, would meet twice a year, that would be an amazing step forward.

The various organizations can also utilize the interest of the president in their endeavors and give him assignments or practical goals he can promote during his many visits with senior world leaders.

This entity can and should be funded by the Israeli government and Jewish philanthropists around the world. Funds should be distributed to organizations that collaborate with others in this ecosystem to make them more effective. The amount of money and resources that can be saved by joining forces on many projects is great.

An interesting model that was actually successful is that of the late Strategic Affairs Ministry, which was dismantled at the beginning of the current government. It created a network of Jewish and non-Jewish activists and organizations worldwide that promote Israel in their countries and online.

The ministry created videos, photos, graphics and content that were free of any logos. The content was then translated and distributed to hundreds of millions of people, physically and online. They convened once a year in Israel. Some of them received funds, and they learned about other players in their field – something that created many collaborations.

There is also a lot to be said about creating such an ecosystem in a formal and organized way. Just the fact that someone is part of an exclusive network of professionals, led by Israel’s president, can really boost their spirits and expertise.

It is time to join forces, to put politics aside and collaborate. It’s time to choose a figure or an entity to lead these global efforts. We need to get our act together and realize that we’re all over the place regarding the issue of combating antisemitism.

Let’s hope that a year from now, there won’t be fights between heads of Jewish organizations about who should be publishing a report on antisemitism; rather, it will be the beginning of a sync between all of the major and important players in this important but crowded field.