Kanye (“Ye”) West has thrown the discussion about antisemitism into the spotlight across social-media platforms. He sparked outrage with millennials and older generations for his repeated ignorant comments against the Jewish community.
Despite this, the social-media generation, Gen Z, seems to not understand the significance of Ye’s antisemitic rhetoric. This is a generation hungry for information, but they are not receiving the nutrients needed to speak out against a once idol in their eyes.
A new study by the Anti-Defamation League has found that young adults tend to have more anti-Israel sentiment than older generations. This is along with 40% of the American population that believes in Israel-oriented antisemitic positions, according to the same study.
Gen Z and Generation Alpha (those born after 2010) need access to information about their history. With that being said, young Jews deserve to know what their ancestors went through. The more details and education people have, the more they will feel empowered to fight antisemitism and for the right to live in our indigenous homeland, both of which are not disappearing anytime soon.
But how does this start? How can we teach our future Jewish leaders what it means to be a Jew in a way they will understand? How can we show them that it’s not OK that their friends make social-media posts about discrimination against Blacks or Asians, but say nothing about antisemitism?
This can be described as the Amy Schumer effect. Schumer, the comedian who practically everyone knows, is really sick of antisemitism. So much so that she and actor David Schwimmer were among the only major Jewish celebrities to initially speak out about West’s derogatory comments. This has kick-started a massive social-media campaign to have Adidas and other major brands end their relationships with the antisemitic rapper.
Finally, there are celebrities who are educating the next generation of Jewish leaders. These are the voices they can relate to. Their simple posts, which educate people about what antisemitism is, do not make the mistake of over speaking. They are short and sweet, which is exactly what Gen Z needs.
The next step in this massive education initiative is to have activities that empower Gen Z, especially when it comes to their connection with Israel. Too many younger Jews are not prepared to eventually be bombarded with those who question their Jewish identity on North American college campuses. They are not prepared when asked about the history of Israel, and their own cultural and Jewish identity.
While it’s important to educate people about blatant antisemitism, that’s not all that Judaism stands for. The roots of culture and history have to begin at home and develop through their schooling until they learn enough to combat antisemitic and anti-Jewish sentiment with hard facts and relevant information. We need people to be proud of their Jewish heritage, and there needs to be an influx of attractive youth programs to show them they can be passionate about Judaism all the time.
Tomer Schorr is director of the Garin Tzabar program, which provides a comprehensive support system to young Jewish adults (ages 18-24) who make aliyah and serve in the Israel Defense Forces as lone soldiers.
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Mr. Schorr is correct to call for more solid information about anti-Semitic rhetoric and misdeeds directed against Jews in the United States.
Here is one example of the failure. Both community news outlets such as the Baltimore Jewish Times, as well as our mass media, did not cover or follow up on the hundreds if not thousands of death threats directed against Jewish children in Florida and Georgia in 2017.
The FBI stated that these threats were sent from Ashkelon, Israel, by an Israeli-U.S. citizen Michael Kadar.
U.S. attorneys, in separate US district courts, have filed charges against Mr. Kadar, but the Biden administration has not asked for his extradition.
There were initial reports in Israeli English-language media that Kadar was tried in Israel but, as here, there has been zero follow-up. Where is Michael Kadar now? Was his mother an intelligence agent or otherwise connected with Israeli intelligence?
Why has the Anti-Defamation League not insisted that Mr. Kadar be tried in the United States? Without a criminal trial, American Jewish children and their parents are deprived of a degree of solace and closure from death threats sent against them from a bedroom in Ashkelon, Israel.
By not reporting about the Ashkelon-based death threats, and not seeking extradition and a U.S. trial, the ADL and other organizations that demand action against antisemitism are hiding something. Did Mr. Kadar have accomplices here in America? What is being hidden and why?
I fully agree with the author’s perspective on the need to empower Gen Z with Jewish knowledge. The rise of antisemitism is a concerning issue, and it’s crucial for the younger generations to have a strong understanding of their heritage, history and cultural identity. This will not only help them feel proud of their Jewish roots but also enable them to combat antisemitism with hard facts and relevant information.
The Amy Schumer effect, as described in the article, is an excellent example of how celebrities can play a crucial role in educating the next generation of Jewish leaders. By using social media to spread awareness and educate people about antisemitism, they can reach a wide audience and make a significant impact.
The author’s suggestion of having activities that empower Gen Z and strengthen their connection with Israel is commendable. With the right support, young Jews can be prepared to face challenges on college campuses and have the knowledge to confidently express their identity and history.
Additionally, I would like to mention the wonderful work of the Israeli Scouts in promoting Jewish knowledge and culture to young people. By sending delegations of youth to different international Scout camps around the world, they are not only representing Israel but also spreading a positive image of Judaism to a diverse audience. This type of cultural exchange plays a crucial role in breaking down stereotypes and fostering mutual understanding between different communities. The Israeli Scouts should be commended for their efforts in promoting a positive image of Judaism and creating opportunities for young people to learn and grow.
In conclusion, I believe that educating the younger generations about their Jewish heritage and history is essential in the fight against antisemitism. The more people know, the better equipped they will be to promote a positive image of Judaism and preserve its legacy for future generations.