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Jewish Groups Divided Over Approach To Combat Antisemitism

Jewish Federations split from Combat Antisemitism Movement over divisive video

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) split in mid-June from the Combat Antisemitism Movement—a coalition of some 700 organizations that reaches about 4 million people—over a video the group has since removed.

Ron Prosor (2nd from left), Israeli ambassador in Berlin, visits Sonnenallee with Martin Hikel (SPD, l), district mayor of Neukölln, after anti-Semitic posters in Berlin-Neukölln last week. According to the Neukölln district office, posters in Neukölln approved of rocket attacks on Israel. (FABIAN SOMMER/picture alliance via Getty Images) 

“Although left-wing antisemitism is not new, we have unfortunately witnessed a recent and concerning rise in antisemitic attitudes and actions from the left. Why? Because of the emergence and dominion of what many call ‘woke ideology,’” the video stated, in part.

Niv Elis, communications director for JFNA, told JNS that the umbrella group, which represents more than 350 Jewish communities that raise and distribute more than $2 billion annually, was “alarmed” at the video’s “divisive approach.”

“We know there are productive and balanced ways to address antisemitism—whether on the left, the right or altogether outside that framework—because that’s the work our network of Jewish Federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils do every day, building affirmative ties and a strong civil society to push back on antisemitism,” said Elis.

JFNA asked the Combat Antisemitism Movement to remove both the video and the Federation logo from its page on June 16.

Elis said the movement notified JFNA that it had suspended the video campaign temporarily. “We are waiting to see how the issue is resolved before asking to rejoin the coalition,” he stated.

A spokesperson for JCPA, which loosened its ties to the Federations last December to free itself to pursue more liberal agenda items, stated that “like many of our partners across the Jewish community,” JCPA was “disturbed and concerned by the video and its suggestion that the advancement of civil rights and social justice is inherently antisemitism.” (The spokesperson declined to be named and did not respond to follow-up questions from JNS News.)

“We’re glad that CAM decided to permanently remove the video, and we would be happy to engage with CAM on the broader questions and concerns raised by this incident,” said the spokesperson.

‘We listen to concerns’

Sacha Roytman Dratwa, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement, told JNS that the group is in the process of reviewing the video’s contents.

“We’re going to come back soon with an updated video that will deal with left-wing antisemitism, right-wing antisemitism, radical Islam, and every form of antisemitism,” said Roytman Dratwa in his comment to JNS, adding that the problems on all levels are “huge.”

“We’re always dealing with all forms of antisemitism, so we don’t really change what we do,” he added. “We try to expose all forms of antisemitism everywhere all the time, as we’ve always done.”

The coalition, a nonpartisan group, will continue to work with its partners, said Roytman Dratwa. He affirmed to JNS that the movement has been in touch with both JFNA and JCPA about the matter. 

“We listen to the concerns that we hear, and we try to answer their concerns,” he said.

“We hope that as we can help them, they can help us,” he added. “The more we have unity, the better we can confront any type of hatred.”

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld

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