Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, across the United States and right here in our Greater Philadelphia community. Alongside acts of violence there is a new boldness around bigoted hate speech, dehumanizing language and the perpetuation of stereotypes. Today, anti-Semitism often cloaks itself in anti-Israel activity, including the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS).
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) have always been relentless in fighting all forms of anti-Semitism through education, government advocacy and community building. Here are some of the ways we combat both BDS and growing anti-Semitism locally and nationally:
- Through trainings, speakers and other educational opportunities for local media and governmental staffers, we ensure that all in our region have access to BDS awareness resources as well as diverse perspectives on Israel.
- The JCRC leads educational programs for interfaith communities on issues around the BDS movement and why it is counter-productive to Israel.
- Along with The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)’s Israel Action Network, we work with local Hillels on each campus in Philadelphia and Penn State to help students respond to any BDS and anti-Semitic activity.
- This includes funding Israel Fellows who work directly with students on Israel-related issues, as well as funding special programmatic needs to support Hillel directors when issues arise on campus.
- In January 2019, we brought together Democratic and Republican members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, along with other public officials, for a political mission to Israel.
- We employ a full-time government relations director who works with the Jewish Federation-funded Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition and other organizations to help lobby public officials.
- We convene an Israel Advocacy Council, comprised of a diverse array of community members who meet frequently throughout the year.
- JFNA has been leading the push for passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which codifies the State Department definition of anti-Semitism into Title VI of the Federal Education Code.
- Due to the work of our Jewish Federation and the PA Jewish Coalition, Sen. Bob Casey is the lead Democratic sponsor.
- JFNA supports both the Anti-Israel Boycott Act and the Combating BDS Act, which work to stop the discriminatory practice of BDS.
- JFNA Vice President of Public Policy William Daroff was instrumental in creating the Anti-Semitism envoy position, housed in the U.S. Department of State. Many Jewish Federations spent years collaboratively advocating for the position and JFNA has worked behind the scenes with the administration to help the administration fill the position. The first Envoy (Hannah Rosenthal) then become the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Milwaukee, and continued helping our movement remain close confidants of the next Envoy, Ira Forman.
- JFNA leadership has already met with Elan Carr, new Special Envoy, and has led conversations with Jewish Federation leaders to connect them directly to the envoy office.
- In February 2019, Jewish Federation President and CEO Naomi Adler traveled to Israel for a series of Jewish Agency for Israel meetings focusing on developing a coordinated approach to combatting anti-Semitism across the world.
- After the desecration of the Mount Carmel Cemetery, we organized the Stand Against Hate rally in less than four days, bringing together close to 5,000 people on Independence Mall.
- Last year, we commemorated Israel’s 70th anniversary across our region through many educational opportunities offering numerous views of Israel.