Wednesday, September 28th | 3 Tishri 5783

January 29, 2020 8:26 am

An Action Plan for a New Jewish Leadership

avatar by Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser


Caskets are carried outside of Pittsburgh’s Rodef Shalom Congregation, the scene of the funeral for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, two of the 11 Jewish worshippers shot and killed on Oct. 27, 2018 at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Squirrel Hill. Photo: Screenshot.

The chickens have come home to roost. Years of neglect and misguided policies by mainstream Jewish leaders have helped enable a shocking surge of Jew-hatred in America. It is encouraging to see some concern and support from the public and media, and it is heartening to see the Jewish community come together. These are critical first steps. It is sad and frustrating that this required the hunting and murder of Jews.

There have been multiple analyses of the nature and extent of the failure of mainstream Jewish leaders. The community’s major donors need to recognize that they too have failed by their selection of academic, legal, social worker types or diplomats as leaders in a time of conflict. The times require “wartime” leaders who can develop a clear vision of the crisis and a plan of action for the future.

New leaders will have to jettison some of the fundamental premises of Jewish communal policies that have clearly failed. They will also need to pivot from their 100-year-old mission of gaining acceptance of Jews in American society to ensuring the safety of the community.

What is now required is a complete strategic and policy overhaul. Any attempt to describe what now needs to be done will seem exhaustive. A comprehensive plan, including steps that must be taken immediately, as well as longer term projects, needs immediate attention. We suggest the following compact, 10-point summary under the general directive:

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Mobilize the community to fight back.

1. Declare a state of emergency to signal the seriousness of the situation — a public declaration that the Jewish community is under assault and will no longer tolerate demonization of Jews, which has always resulted in the murder of Jews.

2. Increase Physical Security to Protect the Community. We need deterrents, as a police response is often late and insufficient. We need to change the risk/reward ratio for those who would assault us. These should include increased police presence, neighborhood security patrols, facilitation of gun ownership, and holding public officials accountable for indifference or willful inaction to confront Jew-hatred.

3. Reprioritize Jewish communal resources. As sanctity of life is the highest Jewish value, allocate more resources for the defense of the Jewish community and less for projects of social justice.

4. Educate the community and the public about the nature and sources of Jew-hatred. For too long, Jew-hatred has been distorted for political or ideological purposes by attempts to universalize it to the meaningless abstraction of “hate” in general. Hatred is part of human nature and will always exist. Like all hatred, Jew-hatred is based on envy and resentment (in this case, of Jewish success) and the tendency to blame others for the haters’ failures and inadequacies. Jew-hatred has always been aimed at the elimination of Judaism (forced conversion), or of Jews (Final Solution), or of the Jewish state (anti-Zionism). Jew-hatred is promoted by lies and demonization, propelled by class warfare, and now also by identity politics.

5. Educate the public about our narrative and our struggle to counter Jew-hatred. We need to update the Zionist narrative highlighting its multicultural nature by including and emphasizing the history of Mizrahi Jews, their oppression and expulsion from Arab countries, and the related history of Islamic Jew-hatred. We cannot let Arab oil money and Marxist ideology dominate our high school and university curriculum about the Middle East conflict.

6. Rethink Holocaust Education, which is necessary but insufficient, and has become less effective as it has become universalized. Its lessons are not correctly identified. We need to implement mandatory sensitivity-training about Jews in schools, universities, and government  organizations, as well as in private sector settings. Jews need to be a protected class. We need to launch PR campaigns to promote our narrative, enlisting Hollywood in this effort.

7. Expose and deconstruct the social theories and rhetorical methods that result in the demonization of Jews, especially the post-modern view of moral relativism, intersectionality, and “diversity” that excludes Jews. Jew-hatred has always been based on lies. We have to fight the lies and liars including those who use double standards and hypocrisy as political strategies.

8. Expose and counter the threat of importing genocidal Jew-hatred from certain cultures. We must pay attention to some immigrant communities and their beliefs concerning Jews.

9. Restructure Jewish education (and make it affordable), with an increased emphasis on Jewish pride, Jewish identity, and the centrality and importance of Jewish peoplehood (Israel).

10. Build alliances based on mutual interests and honest reciprocity, not virtue-signaling. Too often, Jewish leaders engage in asymmetrical relationships. Jewish support has not been reciprocated. We need to reach out to alienated, neglected working class Americans of all races, and build alliances with other groups.

The Jewish community has enormous talents, and significant resources, which have often been used to benefit America and the world. We now need to direct the energy and genius of the community to fight the epidemic of hate that is plaguing our community.

Charles Jacobs, is co-founder and President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance and The American Anti-Slavery Group. He is also co-founder of the David Project.

Avi Goldwasser is the co-founder of Americans for Peace and Tolerance and The David Project. He is the executive producer of several documentaries including Hate Spaces, The J Street Challenge, and The Forgotten Refugees.

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