This Week in Jews
IHRA definition of anti-Semitism taking hold in Washington, a new ADL study, and a little story about Jewish geography
Pretty quiet week around here, and that’s a good thing.
→ Bad news first. The ADL’s latest study found that belief in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories has doubled since 2019, with 20 percent of respondents saying that Jews have too much power, 23 percent believing that Israel gets away with everything and controls the media, and more belief in anti-Semitic tropes among young adults between 18 and 30. Young adults, unsurprisingly, were also more likely to support statements opposed to Israel, such as “Israel and its supporters are a bad influence on our democracy” and “Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews.” On the bright side, the majority of Americans did not agree with most of the anti-Israel statements. However, a nine percent jump in general anti-Semitic beliefs from 2019 is alarming. At the top of the list were “Jews stick together more than other Americans,” “Jews in business go out of their way to hire other Jews,” and “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America.” Around 20 percent of respondents agreed that “Jews have too much power in the United States today” and “Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.”
How much faith should we place in surveys? I’m not the biggest fan. But it confirms some of the things we already know, especially around the increased animosity toward Israel by younger Americans. Yet will countering that lead to the growth of the idea that Jews have too much power? And around and around we go.
→ But in better news. More cities are following Bellevue’s lead, thanks in part to publicity by the Seattle Times Editorial Board, to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Local AJC Director Regina Sassoon Friedland shared this update:
When the editorial board of The Seattle Times realized that the City of Bellevue adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism and in light of surging antisemitic rhetoric and incidents, they published Follow Bellevue’s example to fight antisemitism on November 10th. Their public encouragement to other governing bodies to take antisemitism seriously and join in the adoption and utilization of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as resource, brought a positive ripple effect. Snohomish County followed Bellevue’s lead first, with their resolution against antisemitism and IHRA definition adoption on December 1st, The City of Mill Creek on December 13th, Tacoma on December 20th, on January 24th, the King County Council will do the same and more will be announced soon. The Times did a follow up piece More local governments denounce antisemitism on December 26th. Antisemitism must be defined and understood as a prelude to effectively combat it, and these adoptions are a positive step.
Here’s my piece about Bellevue’s IHRA definition adoption in case you missed it.
→I found this article interesting. I think it reflects what a lot of our community is murmuring when the doors and locked and the blinds are down.
The author outlines the shift of many Jews away from liberalism. Proud to live openly, Jews are getting less patient with social and political entry requirements, like downplaying or even denouncing support for Israel’s existence.
This New Jew might not be conservative but they are no longer of the left. His story is laid out in "The Turn" by Liel Leibovitz. He didn’t shift, the left shifted around him. She isn’t afraid of name-calling. As Leibovitz wrote “We have a better word to describe ourselves: free.”
It reminded me of the piece I was so afraid to write nearly two years ago.
I was terrified to publish this. And it remains one of my most read posts.
→ Let’s take a break. How are you doing on your resolutions?
→ And here’s a nice story shared by Friend of The Cholent Ned Porges. I hope it brings you a smile.
Jewish Geography Is Real
My wife, Phyllis, often says this. I now think it is for real. Let me explain. I am in New York City for a 2019 Thanksgiving cousin reunion. Am with my son Jason who lives in Lower East Side of Manhattan. We walk a few blocks to the Tenement Museum and sign-up for a small group “Jewish” tour to begin. Waiting outside, I hear my name loudly being called. It is our Seattle Beth Am president, Bryan Rutberg, and his wife Sharon.
Now, I ask you, can this unexpected meeting be calculated into odds? Consider this: Seattle’s Temple Beth Am is 2421 air miles from New York; there are over 350 million persons in the USA, 8.4 million in NYC; 1440 minutes in a day; 302 New York City square miles, and one Tenement Museum. To be recognized at a most unlikely time and place, is beyond my thinking.
Is this Jewish Geography or merely an amazing set of circumstances? You be the judge. Think I will stop on the way home to buy some lottery tickets.
That’s all for now. Have a nice long weekend and a meaningful MLK Day.
Check out the Seattle Jewish community calendar and the virtual calendar.
This week’s parasha is Shemot.
Candlelighting in Seattle is at 4:24 p.m.
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Mazal tov to Simon Broches who started work at the Stroum Jewish Community Center as a Staff Accountant. —Connie Kanter