Stand Up to Hate

You may have seen a new advertising campaign this week called Stand Up to Jewish Hate, funded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The ads are part of his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism along with partners in the Jewish communal establishment. The campaign includes a blue square emoji meant to take up 2.4% of the screen, the same percentage of the population Jews consist of in the United States.

The television spots all focus on the same theme: that Jews have been the subject of hatred and non-Jews can and should show solidarity with our community. For example, in one commercial a mother and her young daughter encounter swastika graffiti on their garage as they leave for school in the morning. Later in the day they return to find that a sympathetic neighbor has painted it over.

The campaign is not designed to change people’s minds. Instead, it is meant to raise the consciousness of non-Jews and let them know that antisemitism is a problem. People who have neutral or positive feelings toward Jews should know that they have the power to stand up against hate and that their support is deeply appreciated in the Jewish community.

I am usually skeptical of the efficacy of this type of advertising. How do we measure its success? It’s not like an ad for toothpaste where we can measure sales in the markets where the spots appear. Will the Stand Up to Jewish Hate campaign make much of a difference beyond raising awareness? Perhaps the $25 million Kraft has spent could be better used in Jewish education. After all, what is the point of fighting against Jewish hate if our community members don’t know much about Jewish tradition itself.

Meanwhile, Israel is dealing with a similar problem of discrimination but with the places reversed. In recent years, Christians have faced vandalism and attacks by Jewish extremists. The current government, which includes religious nationalists, is seen as giving permission to these anti-Christian forces.

Israel faces a dilemma with its Christian population. On the one hand, leaders there note that Israel is the friendliest country in the Middle East for Christians and a place where the Christian population is actually growing. On the other hand, most Christians in Israel are part of the Arab community and sympathize with the Palestinians. A recent bill introduced by a member of the governing coalition would have jailed anyone found guilty of proselytizing. The potential law was killed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid criticism by American evangelicals, a powerful ally of Israel.

It’s unlikely Israel will launch a campaign to stand up to Christian hate, but perhaps it could be useful. I imagine Christians in Israel would find comfort in knowing their Jewish neighbors support them, as undoubtably is the case for most Israelis. Both in Israel and America, a small minority of xenophobic and bigoted extremists can have a major negative effect. It’s up to the majority of decent people to fight back and stand up for the other, wherever they may be.


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