Opinion

A catastrophic day for the American Jewish community

None of the sponsors of the recent solidarity rally in Washington is engaging in any analysis of why it failed.

The “No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity With the Jewish People” at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on July 11, 2021. Credit: Chris Kleponis.
The “No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity With the Jewish People” at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on July 11, 2021. Credit: Chris Kleponis.
Steve Frank
Steve Frank
Steve Frank is an attorney, retired after a 30-year career as an appellate lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. His writings on Israel, the law and architecture have appeared in numerous publications, including “The Washington Post,” “The Chicago Tribune,” “The Jerusalem Post,” “The Times of Israel” and “Moment” magazine.

In the face of a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States, virtually all of the mainstream American-Jewish organizations came together to sponsor a rally on July 11 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to protest such violence.

Unfortunately, however, about 3,000 people showed up at “No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity With the Jewish People,” demonstrating that mainstream Jewish organizations are, for the most part, failing to carry out their primary mission of fighting anti-Semitism. Of course, this is apparent from the need for the rally in the first place: the shocking rise of anti-Semitism in the United States.

And, despite having memberships in the hundreds of thousands, and having put their names and reputations on the line in sponsoring the rally, the more than 100 Jewish organizations were only able to draw at most 3,000 to the event. Compared to the 250,000 believed to have attended a 1987 rally for Soviet Jewry, and the more than 100,000 who rallied in 2002 while Israel was in the throes of the Second Intifada, this event was—to borrow the Palestinians’ word for the “catastrophe” of the establishment of the State of Israel—the organized Jewish community’s nakba.

Further, the poor turnout underscores the view, suggested in the title of British comedian David Baddiel’s recently published book, Jews Don’t Count, as a persecuted minority among progressives, even though they are one of the most persecuted minorities in history. No civil-rights groups other than Jewish organizations either sponsored or appeared at the rally—not Black Lives Matter, not “The Squad” of progressive Democrats, nor anyone else.

On its official website, Endjewhatred.com, an organizer of the event, stated: “We are Jews who marched for black lives, civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, immigrants, the environment, human rights and for every type of social justice.”

But where were these folks on Sunday when we needed their support?

Comedian Sarah Silverman talked about the abandonment of the Jews on her podcast in March.

“Stop rolling your eyes and be our allies,” she urged. “It makes me sad to know that so many Jews that I know commit their lives to being allies to so many, to stick their necks out for others, and I’m proud of that. That will always be our way.”

“But,” she presciently asked, “who is here for us?”

In spite of Sunday’s catastrophe, none of the sponsors is engaging in any analysis of why the rally failed or what it means for the American-Jewish community. Was it merely because Sunday was a very hot July day in Washington? Was it due to a lack of time to prepare for the event? And if those were factors, why was the rally not scheduled for a nice autumn day in October? It’s not as if anti-Semitism is going away anytime soon, after all.

Was the absence of non-Jewish civil-rights groups calculated? Were they not invited? Or did they simply choose not to show up? Was none of the above at play—meaning that the event would have failed regardless of when it was scheduled or whoever was invited?

If that’s the case, then the American-Jewish community is in serious trouble. And rather than subject themselves to serious self-analysis, mainstream Jewish organizations are falling all over themselves on social media, patting themselves on the back for the “success” of the event, which End Jew Hatred described in an e-mail as “amazing,” and using it as a cause for further fundraising.

In view of the event’s actual outcome, however, an important question is why the Jewish community should continue to give hefty donations to the organizations that co-sponsored the event if this is the best they can do in a moment of crisis.

These organizations, among others, are the Israel Forever Foundation, B’nai B’rith International, Alliance for Israel, American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, Combat Anti-Semitism Movement, Jewish National Fund USA, Hadassah, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Assembly, USCJ, World Jewish Congress-North America, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, End Jew Hatred, Hillel International, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, World Jewish Congress, Zionist Rabbinic Coalition, ZOA and Zioness.

Steve Frank is an attorney, retired after a 30-year career as an appellate lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. His writings on Israel, the law and architecture have appeared in numerous publications, including “The Washington Post,” “The Chicago Tribune,” “The Baltimore Sun,” “Moment Magazine,” “The Jerusalem Post” and “The Times of Israel.” 

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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