Confronting Antisemitism and Intolerance

Seattle Hadassah Board Member, Deni Hirsh, and I attended a course on Confronting Antisemitism and Intolerance at the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle on August 13th.  Presenters included Dee Simon, Baral Family Executive Director of the Holocaust Center, and Hilary Bernstein, Bernstein Education Consulting (formerly Executive Director PNW ADL).  The course included a short tour of the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s Light in the Darkness exhibit and covered the history of antisemitism, antisemitism today, and responding to antisemitism and intolerance. 

I learned that antisemitism today can take many forms including alleging “Jews have power” to control Congress or the US government or banks, Holocaust denial, and delegitimizing Israel.  Antisemitic incidents have risen in the last few years.  In K-12 schools, there has been a 94% increase in antisemitic incidents from 2016 to 2017 and it’s only climbing.

We discussed when critiques of the Israeli government become antisemitic.  It’s antisemitic if all Jews are blamed for the action of the State, if the criticism denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, or if traditional antisemitic imagery, stereotypes or conspiracy theories are used.

We practiced six techniques for speaking up again stereotypes including:

  1. Assuming good intentions and explaining impact: “I know you mean well but that hurts.”
  2. Ask a question: “What do you mean?”
  3. Interrupt and Redirect: “Let’s not go there.”
  4. Broaden to Universal Human Behavior: “I think that applies to everyone.”
  5. Make It Individual: “Are you speaking of someone in particular?”
  6. Say “Ouch!”: “Ouch, that hurt.”

This 3-hour course will be given again by the Holocaust Center on October 24thRegister Here.