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From Silos to Solidarity: Combating Antisemitism Together

[additional-authors]
August 16, 2023
Rabbi Noah Farkas, CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (left) and Jeffrey I. Abrams, Regional Director of ADL Los Angeles (fourth from left) speak at a joint briefing, addressing the surge of antisemitism in Los Angeles, November 3, 2022.

By Jeffrey I. Abrams, Regional Director, ADL Los Angeles and Rabbi Noah Farkas, President and CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Rabbi Noah Farkas, CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (left) and Jeffrey I. Abrams, Regional Director of ADL Los Angeles (fourth from left) speak at a joint briefing, addressing the surge of antisemitism in Los Angeles, November 3, 2022.

In February of this year, our Los Angeles Jewish community was gripped by a sadly familiar fear, when two identifiably Jewish men in the Orthodox neighborhood of Pico-Robertson were shot after leaving morning prayers. The suspected shooter had a history of sharing antisemitic, conspiracy-laden beliefs, and purposely sought out locations in L.A. where he knew members of the Jewish community lived, worked, and prayed.

Just two weeks ago, the FBI raided a house in Reseda and arrested an avowed white supremacist and antisemite who threatened the mass murder of Jews. They found, among other items, bomb-making materials, “ghost” guns, and 3D printers to make firearms. This suspect not only espoused his hatred of Jews; he was also building the capacity to act on his deluded schemes.

Over the last several weeks, groups of online trolls have sought to disrupt Jewish prayer services in Los Angeles and throughout the country by calling in fake bomb threats targeting synagogues, “swatting” synagogues that livestream their in-person services.

We live in difficult times. Antisemitism is no longer a marginal threat; it is a clear and present danger. For too long, Jewish leadership has tried to “go it alone.” This approach has helped no one – not our respective supporters, volunteers, and staff, not our national counterparts, and certainly not our local communities. Often, the siloed approach leads to inefficient and confusing outcomes with multiple press releases, clashing statements, and uncoordinated actions. Even more importantly, this approach can hurt the coordination of vital information between Jewish institutions and law enforcement.

The time has come to move from competition to cooperation, from silos to solidarity. We must put the dire needs of our community over the ideologies of self-promotion. Since last year, a group of organizations have formed an Antisemitism Roundtable to do just that. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee, Holocaust Museum LA, and the Board of Rabbis have met bi-monthly to build trust, mutual support, and to place the greater mission of the Jewish people at the center of our work.

Today, we are pleased to announce an outcome of these conversations when it comes to communal security. The Federation and ADL Los Angeles are launching the Southern California Jewish Security Alliance (SCJSA). We will merge ADL’s long-standing expertise on extremism and intelligence-gathering with the proficiency in training, assessments, and local intelligence monitoring of the Federation’s Community Security Initiative (CSI). ADL’s Center on Extremism will embed an intelligence analyst shared with CSI, focusing on threats in Southern California. These combined efforts will be a force-multiplier, adding strength to strength. Additionally, a third organization, Community Security Services, will join SCJSA and have an office at CSI to coordinate training of volunteers in our community to protect themselves. We hope to add additional members to the SCJSA in the weeks and months ahead.

The FBI raid in Reseda is an example of the power of collaborative information sharing. CSI’s close partnership with law enforcement led directly to the apprehension of the suspect. These relationships, which ADL and CSI have established over years of hard work, also helped to mitigate the disruption caused by internet trolls recently targeting a number of synagogues and Jewish institutions in our city.  We believe SCJSA will replicate this sort of collaboration on a broader scale.

While we are proud of the new security alliance, this is just the beginning.  In the past, we may have feared competition from one another for a limited pool of donors and influence. Now, the leadership of the Antisemitism Roundtable and the members of the SCJSA understand that speaking in unison makes our voices stronger. We encourage others to join our effort to put the community first by focusing on symbiotic outcomes. We look forward to growing our collaboration with other like-minded organizations, to create a more resilient, safe, and well-connected Jewish community.

By Jeffrey I. Abrams, Regional Director, ADL Los Angeles and Rabbi Noah Farkas, President and CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Condemn Antisemitism Oppose Hate and Extremism Driven by Antisemitism Make Communities Safe from Antisemitism Block Antisemitism Online Act Against Global Antisemitism Teach about Antisemitism

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