By Linda Novick O’Keefe
Co-Founder & CEO
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel
It’s been very difficult for me to watch the recent outpouring of hate in cities across the world in recent weeks, including acts of antisemitism and airstrikes and brutal violence against Gazan civilians and other civilians in occupied Palestinian territories.
In just two weeks, there were 324 reported antisemitic incidents and hate crimes in the United States and thousands of people have been murdered in the Middle East. The desecration of synagogues, use of slurs and discriminatory language, and murders and physical acts of violence based on one’s religion or national origin is devastating and sickening. Although we may be paying more attention to these incidents now, unfortunately, these acts are not new, and we know that crimes of bias and hate are often under-reported and difficult to categorize.
To have our elected officials compare mask mandates to the history of extermination during the Holocaust, is illness revealed. To see the graphic, unsettling and demoralizing photos from the Holocaust, piles of disposed bodies, gas chambers, soaps made from human body fat, albums made of human hair and skin, is to see hell revealed. Hearing that nearly 17,000 social media posts contained a variation of the phrase “Hitler was right,” among other messages that demonize Jews, is difficult to comprehend, and requires us to hold tech companies accountable for enforcing community standards. Even more disturbing is that our children see and hear such vileness, often in their own schools and neighborhoods, and that they are forced to process these chilling images and sentiments of sickness and hate. This horror has had and will continue to have real consequences.
As a Jewish woman and mother of two teenage children, I felt a responsibility to address this with my own children given the messaging they are seeing in social media and the news. I have also realized the complexities of speaking about this topic. I believe actively denouncing hate and discrimination against all vulnerable communities remains important.
“Tikkun Olam,” a concept in Judaism, means to repair the world; it’s a notion of social action and the pursuit of social justice. This idea is the very one we must all come together around. Our differences, cultures, and religions should be respected, celebrated, shared, and held sacred. We must commit to being value driven, to teach our children and have them pledge to embrace diversity, act with humility and celebrate the strengths, creativity and perspectives of all individuals until we get closer to the world we all want to live in so desperately.
Our Common Threads family denounces all acts of violence and bias. As an organization that was born from 9-11, a tragedy that affected us all, we know that this kind of hate and induced traumatic stress negatively impacts health and life expectancy.
To our colleagues across sectors, we appreciate your support, care and commitment to building safer, more inclusive organizations and communities that value and celebrate the world around us. As an organization, Common Threads will continue to speak out when we see wrong and promote values of acceptance and understanding in our kitchens, tables and communities, one plate at a time.
We have shared a few resources below so you can educate yourself and your loved ones about the important topic. If you have additional resources, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources & Articles
- “Bullies in the Schoolyard: When Antisemitism is aimed at kids—by other kids—how can parents respond?” (Tablet)
- Free Palestine resources page
- “How to Talk to Children About Antisemitism” (PJ Library)
- National American of American Jewish History
- “Resources to Address and Challenge Antisemitism” (ADL, includes resources for educators and anti-bias education modules)
- “The Roots and Impact of Antisemitism” (Facing History & Ourselves)
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- “Anne Frank Video Diary” (The Anne Frank House)
- “Hate and Its Impact: Sowing the Seeds of Global Antisemitism” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
- “How Antisemitism costs the economy” (Chicago Booth Review)
- “Our Race Reality: Antisemitism – The History Behind the Hate” (FOX 29 News Philadelphia)
- “Why is Antisemitism Still Present in America?” (AJ+)