End Jew Hatred: Fight for social justice must be above political fray - opinion

In the fight for social justice, an allyship can be built around the simplest unobjectionable message: Black Lives Matter; Stop Asian Hate; End Jew Hatred.

 THE END Jew Hatred movement protests outside UN Headquarters in New York City on Monday. ‘This isn’t just about Nakba Day,’ the organization tweeted. ‘This is a perverse manipulation of reality.’ (photo credit: End Jew Hatred/Twitter)
THE END Jew Hatred movement protests outside UN Headquarters in New York City on Monday. ‘This isn’t just about Nakba Day,’ the organization tweeted. ‘This is a perverse manipulation of reality.’
(photo credit: End Jew Hatred/Twitter)

A few weeks ago, dozens of elected officials from all levels of the US government and both sides of the aisle came together to proclaim April 29 as #EndJewHatred Day – a day of empowerment and solidarity in the face of growing antisemitism. 

The magnitude of #EndJewHatred Day cannot be understated. It is historically unprecedented to have a nationwide bipartisan effort to recognize and empower the Jewish people to fight Jew hatred. These proclamations showcase the power of ordinary people who join together to fight for civil rights and social justice – and the importance of bipartisanship and unity to achieve change.

Civil rights and social justice movements succeed by bringing together people from all walks of life to act for change. To foster successful allyship, however, individuals must be willing to let go of preconceived yet misguided notions they may hold about their allies.

Setting aside stereotypes to unite for positive change is even harder in the face of an establishment with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. The establishment uses a narrative of oppression to describe people as divided by race, religion, or political ideology. These are distinctions made by the ruling elites to prevent the people from forming the alliances needed to shake the existing order and bring about social justice for those who need it most.

The establishment knows too well that if you identify with people by certain characteristics (immutable or not), you create an atmosphere that fosters distrust of those who don’t share those characteristics. Distrust creates division, and when these divisions become internalized they give rise to bigotry and discrimination. Because of the distrust among people of different “groups,” this bigotry becomes systemic, making change impossible. This is precisely what the establishment wants.

End Jew Hatred Protest in NYC, held in front of the public library. (End Jew Hatred) (credit: END JEW HATRED)End Jew Hatred Protest in NYC, held in front of the public library. (End Jew Hatred) (credit: END JEW HATRED)

Not too long ago, we saw signs that read, “Whites only.” Those signs didn’t come down until an allyship was formed between people of different races and political backgrounds, standing together to demand the civil rights and protections we enjoy today. No one group, on its own, could have made that change. Today, the signs may be gone, but systemic racism still exists – and in response, social justice advocates have been building new alliances to confront it.

Building an allyship in the fight for social justice

In the fight for social justice, an allyship can be built around the simplest unobjectionable message: Black Lives Matter; Stop Asian Hate; End Jew Hatred. The power of these messages in bringing people together is their ability to transcend divisions, whether political, religious or other.

It doesn’t matter who gets your vote, what you believe about policy issues, where you come from, or what color your skin is. These things are irrelevant to the universal truth of the message. And if you agree on the need to end Jew hatred in your lifetime, you can do your part to de-normalize antisemitism and make it socially unacceptable. You can do your part in assuring consequences for hateful conduct. You can be an ally, and together we can achieve positive change.

The problem is with the old guard that encourages tribalism as a means to maintain the status quo. In today’s world, what better way to encourage tribalism than to suggest a political litmus test for social justice, and reinforce preconceived but erroneous ideas? We see this all the time when ideas or people are described as left-wing or right-wing. We see it in the suggestion, reinforced by some elected representatives, organizations, and even journalists, that only people who vote a certain way or hold certain positions on Israel can be true warriors for justice.

Make no mistake, the people who push these narratives are part of the problem, not allies working towards a solution. Injecting politics into a message of universal truth is meant to handicap the people fighting for change, not help them. It’s meant to divide us and tear us apart, to destroy our unity in a common goal.

Without that unity we cannot effect the change in society that makes bigotry unacceptable. Without it we cannot pass bipartisan legislation that protects our identity while affirming and empowering us as people. We become disparate tribes pitted against one another by a patriarchal establishment responsible for the oppression of centuries.

Sadly, many false narratives have even penetrated the Jewish community, weakening our collective sense of identity and our ability to unite and fight to be heard.

The idea that we must pledge allegiance to one political party, or that we must fight for others to have the right to be heard, has kept us from standing up for ourselves. Unfortunately, our community is fragmented when it comes to asserting our civil rights, and the exploitation of our intergenerational trauma hinders our ability to unite and mobilize for social justice.

It is to be noted that, as the Jewish community has started to come together along with our allies in the End Jew Hatred movement, our trauma is used as a tool to pit us against one another and deny us the empowerment for which we strive. Regarding our right to fight for Jewish rights, we are told, alternatively, that we are too conservative; too progressive; too binary; too non-binary; too Sephardi; too Ashkenazi, too religious; or not religious enough. 

Our motives are questioned. Our goodwill is challenged. Why? Because our unity is a threat to the establishment. Our grassroots actions threaten to upend the last vestiges of oppression. After all, now that other minority and marginalized people have stood up and forced change, who is left to keep down but the Jew?

The strength of the End Jew Hatred movement is in the people who understand the importance of unity in achieving a common goal. Its strength lies in partnering with everyone, no matter who they vote for – as long as they demand justice for the Jewish people and respect for our identity and our civil rights. The reason End Jew Hatred is successful is precisely its message of unity. 

Our emancipation from bigotry and discrimination has nothing to do with whether you voted for a Democrat or a Republican. The movement’s remarkable success serves as undeniable evidence: At a rally, two individuals representing polar opposite ends of the political spectrum stood shoulder to shoulder, proudly holding signs that bore the powerful hashtag #EndJewHatred.

These individuals embody a profound comprehension that the cause they champion transcends mere politics; instead, it is rooted in the fundamental principles of civil rights. They recognize that advocating for the civil rights of the Jewish people extends far beyond a religious or secular identity – it is a duty incumbent upon every compassionate human being.

Regrettably, there exist some individuals who fail to grasp this profound truth, their minds shackled by narrow-mindedness. Incapable of perceiving the shared values that bind us, they demonstrate a lamentable inability to appreciate our common ground.

There may never have been (certainly not in modern times) a movement fighting for the civil rights of the Jewish people – for social justice for the Jewish people in the face of ever-increasing Jew hatred. 

There has never been a movement centered on the Jewish community as a minority community, targeted by systemic oppression and bigotry, and deserving equal protection under the law – unbound by what’s happening thousands of miles away in the Middle East. 

The End Jew Hatred movement is built around the simplest, most unobjectionable message: We need to end Jew hatred in our lifetime. 

Over the past few years this message has resulted in a grassroots movement that has captured the imagination of supporters across the world, sparked meaningful direct action in support of our civil rights, and empowered bipartisan cooperation to proclaim April 29 as #EndJewHatred Day.

This movement is greater than any divisive ideology. Ending Jew hatred is not political. It is not about any one organization, or any one person. A movement is greater than any one of us. It is about all of us. This is how we succeed in the fight for social justice – we bring people together from all walks of life with the knowledge that by acting together, we cause change.

It is astounding that in this day and age, there are still some people committed to maintaining the status quo of bigotry and racism. They include the elected officials who refuse to accept #EndJewHatred Day and view Jew hatred through the lens of politics rather than social justice. They include the leaders of organizations who won’t act in concert with anyone unless they are in charge.

They also include practitioners of yellow journalism, prone to sensationalism and scandal-mongering to drive traffic to their articles. They have one thing in common: the promotion of the tribalism that keeps us apart and prevents us from truly uniting for social justice.

As we strive to build a better society, we cannot afford to be distracted by the noise of those who would see us fail. We cannot afford to allow our differences to outweigh our commonality of interest and purpose. The very existence of those who try to divide us shows the need for the End Jew Hatred movement and the need to come together on bipartisan initiatives like #EndJewHatred Day.

We must reject attempts to politicize a universal truth, and continue to unite for the common good – to continue to come together to #EndJewHatred in our lifetime. We invite everyone, especially the Jewish community, to join us.

The writer is co-founder of #EndJewHatred.