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March 28, 2023 4:42 pm

Billionaire Robert Kraft Launches Antisemitism Awareness Campaign


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Robert Kraft. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), founded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, has launched a $25 million multimedia campaign to raise awareness of rising antisemitism in the US.

The campaign, for which supporters are asked to share the “Blue Square 🟦 ” emoji available on iOS devices, will feature a series of short films —”Tony,” “Son,” and “Isaiah” — each depicting forms of antisemitic incidents occurring in the United States.

In “Tony,” for example, a mother and her daughter leave home and, as they’re about to enter their car, see on their garage door a swastika and graffiti saying “No Jews.” Tony, their neighbor, paints over the hateful message before they return home.

The campaign will be discussed on NBC’s The Voice, an Emmy award winning show, and promoted by NBA, NHL, and the NFL, the group said.

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“The StandUpToJewishHate campaign is designed to raise awareness for the fight against antisemitism, specifically among non-Jewish audiences and to help all Americans understand that there is a role for each of use to play in combating a problem that is unfortunately all too prevalent in communities across the country today,” Kraft said on Monday in a press release. “We must stand up and take action against the rise of all hate and I hope everyone will post and share the Blue Square to show their support in this fight.”

FCAS called the “Blue Square “a simple, yet powerful unifying symbol of solidarity and support for the Jewish community.”

Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowl titles for the club, shared it yesterday in a tweet. So did New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“Our foundation has tracked a steady rise in antisemitic rhetoric on social media since 2020, with an increase of 14 percent in the past year,” FCAS executive director Matthew Berger said. “We hope this campaign educates and empowers all Americans to speak out against antisemitism when they see it, either online or in their communities, and #StandUpToJewishHate.”

Antisemitic incidents in the United States increased 36 percent in 2022, according to an annual audit issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday.

The ADL recorded 3,697 incidents — ten per day — across the US, the highest ever since the group began track them in 1979. Incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault all spiked by double digits and occurred most frequently in New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas, which accounted for 54 percent of the ADL’s data. New York had the most, with 580 incidents. One incident resulted in a fatality.

Acts of hate targeting Jewish institutions and synagogue also occurred at high rates, with 589 incidents, including a hostage situation at synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, and 91 bomb threats, the most recorded since 2017. Four hundred-and-ninety-four incidents took place on K-12 campuses, and two-hundred-and-nineteen incidents took place at colleges and universities, an increase of 41 percent from the previous year.

Foundation to Combat Antisemitism has undertaken several initiatives to address the problem.

Earlier this month, it announced a partnership with Brandeis University, which will include a student fellowship program for undergraduates, conferences featuring leading experts on antisemitism, and collaborations with K-12 administrators. Additionally, Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Jewish Leadership Program will expand to include “Kraft Scholars,” who will participate in new online degree and certificate programs that will train them to respond to crises caused by antisemitic incidents.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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