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September 23, 2021 12:26 pm
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How Building Interfaith Alliances Benefits Israel

avatar by Roz Rothstein

Opinion

Orthodox Christian worshipers attend the Holy Fire ceremony amid eased coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 1, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The May 2021 war between Hamas and Israel prompted a steady release of misinformation about Israel, from media outlets to the college campus. It also gave rise to an increase in physical attacks against Jewish people in cities around the world.

In addition, social media platforms saw a tremendous uptick in antisemitic posts, as well as cyber bullying and incitement. Although Jews make up less than 2% of the US population, the latest FBI hate crimes data shows that they are the most targeted religious minority group in America.

Sadly, antisemitism, including physical violence against Jews, never seems to elicit the widespread outrage and solidarity that is seen when other minority groups are attacked.

The Jewish community, including Jewish students, feel not only threatened, but also marginalized and isolated, serving as a reminder that the Jewish people need their friends and allies to help educate the world about Israel, correct misinformation, and fight antisemitism.

While Jews and people of other faiths, including Christians and Hindus, share a common concern for one another, many people do not realize the severity of the problem that Jews are currently facing — and many more don’t know what they can do to help. Few understand that, historically, threats to Jews, when left unchecked, become threats to society at large.

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StandWithUs launched the Interfaith Alliance to bring greater awareness about antisemitism, increase understanding of the common histories and concerns of different minority groups,  join forces to educate about Israel, and stand up as a unified front against hatred.

While we hope to open some new doors and build new bridges, Jewish and pro-Israel activists also need to strengthen the bonds that already exist. We should focus on the Jewish and Christian historic roots in the land of Israel, where Christianity was born and grew. The Christian prayers for the peace of Jerusalem, for example, echo the prayers that Jews have voiced for thousands of years.

Today, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians have full  religious rights, and where the Christian community has increased, rather than decreased, since 1948.

Jewish and Hindu Americans also have more in common than many people realize, including those within the two groups. Not only are there commonalities of history, religion, culture, and values, but there are also similar challenges in confronting campaigns of misinformation about the groups’ homelands and attacks on their national identities.

Jews have suffered a long, tragic history of antisemitism. Similarly, Hindus are victims of an irrational fear toward their religion and peoplehood. Today antisemitism and Hindu-phobia are manifested in degrading stereotypes, racial slurs, false accusations, as well as distortions and denial of Jewish and Hindu national histories.

Once Christians, Hindus, and Jews, as well as other religious groups, understand that what unites us is far greater than what divides us, we can exemplify that together, we are much greater and stronger than the sum of our parts. Our Interfaith Alliance and other efforts like it will not only be a powerful educational force bringing accurate information into the conversation about Israel; they will be a network of friends who stand together against antisemitism and other forms of hate.

In order to advance this goal, our Interfaith Alliance will present a concert during Sukkot on Sunday evening, September 26 entitled, “Melody-Harmony-Unity, A Christian-Jewish Musical Celebration of Israel.” The event will air at 6pm in all time zones. The elaborate production was filmed at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles, the gates of Jerusalem, and at the Benedictine Monastery in the Arab town of Abu Gosh.

This is one small step in the effort to build a strong network of like-minded allies and people of faith, and we are delighted to be taking it.

Roz Rothstein is the co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs an international organization that supports Israel and combats antisemitism 

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