The biggest scandal in the Jewish world today is not the rise in antisemitism, but the fact that the more money and noise we’ve thrown at the problem, the worse it’s gotten.
If fighting antisemitism were a business, it would have gone belly up a long time ago. It’s the equivalent of investing a fortune to improve your product, and then realizing you actually made it worse.
So, what happened?
It turns out there’s a simple explanation for this epic squandering of Jewish resources in the “fight against hate.” Donors love a good fight. It makes it look like we’re doing something, like we won’t be silenced, like we’re fighting back against evil forces.
This activity makes us feel good, so we rarely have to ask: Is any of this working?
Activists who fundraise know all this. They know there’s nothing like “they’re coming to get us!” and “it’s never been worse!” to get the hysterics triggered and the checks rolling in.
Media companies know it, too. It’s the oldest media trick in the book: Put fear and alarmism in a headline and you’re guaranteed to boost your audience.
There is also, of course, human nature. If we feel attacked, our instinct is to fight back. If we see a swastika on a wall, or hear someone yell “dirty Jew,” or face an anti-Israel march on a college campus, we’ve been taught that to remain silent is to be complicit, that we must make some noise against hate.
What we rarely ask, however, is: What kind of noise is most effective?
Most of us automatically assume that “exposing, denouncing and condemning” antisemitism is the correct approach. It feels so logical and natural. How can it be wrong?
It can be wrong if it makes us look weak.
Like it or not, the more we “expose, denounce and condemn” any little act of antisemitism, the more we look like complainers and grievance junkies, and the more we look like whiners and losers.
But are we?
The great majority of Jews in America are neither whiners nor losers. They’re achievers. They work hard. They give back to society. They’re winners.
The problem is that we’re winners who have been making the noise of losers. By spending millions to “improve” the Jewish condition by “fighting” hate, all of the whining has turned us into scolds and damaged the Jewish brand.
We overlooked that when you fight against an emotion like hate, you don’t look strong, you look weak. Haters will always hate, which may be lucrative for activists but which means we’re always losing the fight. There’s no amount of “fight” that will quiet haters, especially not in a country where even vile speech is protected speech.
Fighting against hate is not like fighting against an army with guns and tanks. It’s fighting an emotion with another emotion. It’s empowering the haters by telling them: “Look, you have the power to make us go nuts trying to fight you.”
The typical argument in favor of the “fight” is that we establish consequences for the hate. But this need for consequences makes us look even weaker. We’re like the weak kid in school who goes to the principal hoping a bully will get punished for hitting him.
We’re no longer that weak kid in school, and we should stop acting like one. It’s time to regain our mojo and start acting like winners. Not because it’s a smart PR strategy but because it’s who we are.
Let’s stop apologizing for our success because we’re afraid it will fuel antisemitic “tropes.” Nothing fuels antisemitism more than Jews showing fear. The noise we make should revolve around our accomplishments, not our fears.
We should inundate college campuses with the significant achievements of Jews in both America and in Israel. We should fight hate not by exposing haters but by exposing the enormous Jewish contributions to humanity. Let the non-Jews who value Jews be the ones who expose and condemn the haters.
If we must have guards at our synagogues and file lawsuits to defend our rights, by all means let’s do it. And yes, let’s go after anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias in any institution where it festers, not least the mainstream media and the United Nations. But those defensive measures shouldn’t define us. What defines us is the resiliency of an ancient people that continues to thrive in a free country like America.
No hater can take that away from us. And if we absolutely must spend money behind a campaign against hate, let the slogan be: “Jew haters are losers.”
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp and the “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article was originally published by the Jewish Journal.