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Does fighting antisemitism create more antisemitism?
And what would a different, novel, fresh approach to "fighting antisemitism" look like?
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When you think about “fighting antisemitism,” what comes to mind?
Global Jewish Future started as an 18-month initiative to study the entire Jewish world. We combed through research and literature of all kinds, and we interviewed more than 300 rabbis, thought leaders, community activists, Israeli government officials, and nonprofit executives on every continent. (Okay, except for Antartica.)
When it comes to antisemitism, we discovered that the “fight” against it, while honorable and well-intentioned, is falling flat on its face. Especially when you consider the hundreds of millions that are spent every year on it!
In fact, antisemitism seems to be growing faster, and antisemitic events are increasingly plentiful, across the world.
Over 1 billion people harbor antisemitic attitudes, according to the ADL.
Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2021.
A 2023 report revealed that aggressive rallies spreading antisemitic and extremist ideologies are being organized in countries across the European Union, glorifying the crimes of the Holocaust.
In other words: Fighting antisemitism seems to create more antisemitism.
So we wondered: What would a different, novel, fresh approach to “fighting antisemitism” look like?
The ‘New Jew’ Mentality
Early Zionists were motivated by the alarming rise of violent antisemitism. In their quest to rescue the Jews of pre-Holocaust Europe, Zionists aimed for much more than just physically protecting Jews.
Rather, the goal was to change the relationship between Jews and Gentiles — by changing Jews themselves.
“Zionism was never just a political project, but a cultural one — to create a new type of Jew,” according to Mishael Zion of the Shalom Hartman Institute.
This objective was based on a robust, critical analysis of how Jews had lived in their 2,000 years of exile, and the effects this had on the Jewish character. Frankly, it made us soft, quiet, shy, reserved.
The “New Jew” is exactly the opposite: outwardly, brashly, stubbornly, optimistically, and even obnoxiously proud to be Jewish.
Using the ‘New Jew’ Mentality to Fight Antisemitism
At Global Jewish Future, we believe this “New Jew” mentality is precisely the remedy for fighting antisemitism around the world.
You see, when someone is deeply proud to be Jewish, and constantly surrounded by prideful reinforcements, their Jewishness becomes unshakeable. And intoxicating.
Plus, pride comes with a compounding effect. The more prideful you are, the more you engage with your pride, and the more prideful you become!
But being prideful is not a trait; it’s a lifestyle. This is why Israeli Jews are the forefathers of the “New Jews.” They are empowered to live Judaism and Jewishly every day, by virtue of living in a Jewish state.
Even so, the “New Jew” mentality is not just reserved for Israeli Jews. Thanks to modern technology’s global scale, Jews from across the world can be empowered to “live their best Jewish lives” every single day. And we should invite our non-Jewish family and friends to take part in our pride alongside us!
In Hebrew, this strategy is called hafuch al hafuch (הפוך על הפוך), literally meaning “the opposite on the opposite.”
What if, instead of fighting antisemitism directly, we invested far more time and resources in empowering Jews across the world — and, by extension, our non-Jewish family and friends — to “live their best Jewish lives,” and to provide daily reinforcements for this Jewish pride to grow and prosper?
When we strengthen Jewish empowerment, we will strengthen our Jewish identity, which will strengthen our image in the world.
This, in turn, will greatly diminish the effects and anguish of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment.