Non-Jewish allies can be key to combatting antisemitism - opinion

Non-Jewish allies can be a key factor to combatting antisemitism.

Attendees of the "No Hate No Fear" rally against antisemitism, Jerusalem, January 5, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attendees of the "No Hate No Fear" rally against antisemitism, Jerusalem, January 5, 2020

Antisemitism levels are at a dangerous high, and Jews all over the world see this rising trend as a major point of concern, and so they should.

However, Jews only make up 0.2% of the world population, meaning that even if every single Jew spoke up against antisemitism, either at home or abroad, they still would never amass the numbers required to create a dent in the amount of hate speech and discrimination against them. Thus, the only way to combat antisemitism effectively is to find allies who truly wish to create a world free from it.

It’s not unprecedented.

Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement have strong allies who desperately want to make a positive difference for people of color and women, respectively; the Jewish people need this kind of ally-ship from non-Jews too.

I can tell you first-hand how stereotypes about Jews infiltrate the rhetoric of the general public and influence their lives, even if they have never met a single Jew.

Growing up as a Christian in Namibia and South Africa, from a young age I heard statements such as, “the Jews are good with money," “the Jews make the best lawyers and accountants," “all Jews are rich" and “oh this big company has become really successful? Must be owned by Jews.”  

Some people who do not understand antisemitism or age-old antisemitic tropes might think to themselves that these are all “positive” assumptions.

Yet, when one looks a little deeper into the decades of antisemitism experienced by Jews worldwide, it is hard not to see the correlation between these so-called “good” stereotypes and the truly awful ones.

As someone who grew up in a country almost devoid of Jews, I know and understand this connection because I actively and purposefully immersed myself into the culture and plight of the Jewish people, especially in Israel. My Israeli family is Jewish, my husband-to-be is Jewish and most of my closest friends are Jewish – so I have made it a point to learn about and recognize antisemitism in all its forms.

Comprehending this age-old hatred and the implication for modern Jewish life is what gave me the tools and knowledge to be able to lead the online activism content for a Jewish organization in Israel, called Act-IL.

It is crucial that more non-Jews actively seek to end Jew-hatred the same way that White people want to play a part in dismantling systemic racism and the same way that men want to fight against sexism and sexual assault against women.  It’s not only that there are simply not enough Jews in the world to combat the amount of conspiracy theories, false information and hatred directed towards the Jewish people, it’s also the decent thing to do.

During the last escalation in May 2021 between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, the necessity for non-Jewish allyship became alarmingly clear. Antisemitism worldwide (online and physical) rose to levels not seen for decades, in part because of non-factual and non-nuanced posts made by famous anti-Israel activists and “progressive” celebrities during the escalation. 

Though anti-Israel activists know exactly what they are doing when they share lies and information without context, progressive celebrities most likely think that what they are sharing is important and truthful, that they take the moral high ground, when in reality they are doing the exact opposite. However, the lack of empathy and research behind their sharing of biased and non-nuanced posts shows just how little they understand about the connection between antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel. 

If this kind of activity continues and influencers, who have five times more followers than there are Jews in the entire world, do not involve themselves in actively learning about and combatting antisemitism, this current wave of left- and right-wing antisemitism will only become more concerning. 

Non-Jewish allies can be a key factor to combatting this wave of antisemitism and more should be done to reach out and include them in the fight against hate.

Angelina Kazmaier is a German-Namibian expat, managing the online activism and content at the pro-Israel group Act-IL. This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Adam Milstein.