Rabbis React to Antisemitism Strategy: Welcomed but “Deeply Flawed”
May 25, 2023

Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 2,500 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in American public policy, today welcomed the announcement of a U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, but noted that it was “deeply flawed.” The rabbis suggested further discussions, including a more substantive effort to incorporate the expertise, knowledge, and lived experience of the observant Jewish community, the favored targets of random hate crimes targeting Jewish Americans.

“The new U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism is an excellent idea,” said CJV Midwestern Regional Vice President Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, “for which the Administration must be commended. However, its current version is built upon several deeply flawed foundational principles that will mask and even legitimize contemporary forms of Anti-Jewish hate. Whether the strategy will do more good than harm remains to be seen.”

Though Holocaust education is a worthwhile endeavor, there is little evidence that focusing upon Jews victimized in Europe combats bigotry against Jews in America, and there is little explanation for the prominence of Holocaust remembrance in the proposed strategy. The long and widespread history of workplace discrimination against Jews in America goes unmentioned by contrast, despite surveys indicating a dramatic resurgence. 

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The President’s statement also highlights the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville in 2017 and seems to tie antisemitism exclusively to white supremacy. This distracts attention from other sources of antisemitism; the vast majority of attacks upon Jews in New York are perpetrated by People of Color.

Alarmingly, the accompanying fact sheet touts ‘commitments’ from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which were previously condemned by CJV and other organizations for demonstrations of obvious anti-Jewish bias, while no organization representing the Orthodox community is mentioned.

“The strategy document credits two contradictory definitions of Antisemitism,” added CJV President Emeritus Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “One of these, the Nexus Document, misrepresents classic tropes and tactics, such as economic warfare against segments of the Jewish community, as political positions. We urge the Administration to immediately and fully incorporate both the working definition of Antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance with its examples, and also the expertise and lived experience of Orthodox Jews, the favored target of random Antisemitic violence, into its strategy.”

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