fbpx

California Confronts Hate Through Joint Efforts

I have praised and criticized Newsom, both in these pages and elsewhere. But he deserves credit for two actions that may provide a tremendous opportunity for California’s Jewish community and represent important steps forward for the relationships between ethnic, racial and religious communities. 

Dan Schnur teaches political communications at UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. He hosts the weekly webinar “Politics in the Time of Coronavirus” for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

https://jewishjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jj_avatar.jpg
Dan Schnur
Dan Schnur teaches political communications at UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. He hosts the weekly webinar “Politics in the Time of Coronavirus” for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

Gavin Newsom has run in four statewide elections, and I have voted for and against him. I have praised and criticized Newsom, both in these pages and elsewhere. But he deserves credit for two actions that may provide a tremendous opportunity for California’s Jewish community and represent important steps forward for the relationships between ethnic, racial and religious communities. 

Neither Newsom’s creation of a Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education nor his signature on legislation that authorized a California Commission on the State of Hate guarantee anything. But both have the potential to facilitate positive change for the state—if Jewish leaders and their counterparts in other underrepresented communities recognize the possibilities that they offer for regenerating inter-community partnerships.

The heightened levels of political, cultural and societal friction between the Jewish community and other minority groups have become increasingly worrisome. Simmering tensions over Israel and the Middle East and domestic policy matters such as ethnic studies course requirements are signs of how much these once-robust relationships have withered. This reflects a broader rupture between American Jews and other pro-Israel advocates from an emerging anti-Zionist and often antisemitic movement on the political left (mirroring equally noxious sentiments among right-wing nationalists) that is in dire need of repair.

By creating these two committees, Newsom is equipping the California Jewish community with two valuable tools to help repair those damaged bridges. The Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education is the result of legislation sponsored by State Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas). The California Commission on the State of Hate was authorized by Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s (D-Santa Monica) bill. Bloom’s legislation will construct a framework to monitor and address hate crimes, and Stern’s project can build on and expand existing efforts that relate the horror of the Holocaust to the present-day experiences of marginalized groups.

In tandem, Stern’s and Bloom’s work creates a common ground for Jewish and other minority community leaders.

In tandem, Stern’s and Bloom’s work creates a common ground for Jewish and other minority community leaders. There was a time when Jewish organizations devoted immense amounts of time and energy to fostering this type of mutual understanding, but such efforts have become sporadic. Coordinated state-level platforms with the imprimatur of the governor’s office should provide a shove in the right direction.

Both new entities will include Jewish members, but will also have seats for representatives from other demographic communities. This increases the likelihood of cross-community cooperation toward shared goals, rather than what has too often become a zero-sum contest in the struggle against oppression.

The timing for the two new commissions is especially beneficial, given the experiment in ethnic studies education looming in California. I’ll write more next week about how public school requirements for students to learn about ethnic, cultural and religious legacies can still become a valuable addition to the curriculum, rather than a flashpoint for further division. But for now, discussions set up in the spirit of inclusion can be a constructive process.

Unfortunately, the debate over ethnic studies has been largely framed as a contest in which rivals are pitted against each other to claim prime victim status. The result has been a series of unpleasant confrontations between advocates for the four most commonly defined minority groups and other communities who believe that their heritage should also be part of this experience. Major challenges remain before the ethnic studies requirement takes effect, but this pair of collaborative endeavors to examine and discuss both the atrocities of the Holocaust and the outrage of contemporary hate crimes will dramatically increase the likelihood of success.


Dan Schnur is a Professor at the University of California – Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. Join Dan for his weekly webinar “Politics in the Time of Coronavirus” (www.lawac.org) on Tuesdays at 5 PM.

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Culture

Latest Articles
Latest

A Tale of Two Kings: Which MLK Legacy Shall We Honor?

Because the man did so much and said so much, there’s a tendency to cherry pick sections of his legacy to support one’s preferred narrative.

Crime and its Non-Punishments

Criminal laws are written by legislatures. District attorneys are charged with enforcing them. They are required to uphold the rule of law, and not serve as the enablers of lawlessness. 

Why Did the FBI Deny Antisemitism in Texas?

The nonstop and deadly attacks on American Jews and especially synagogues boggles the mind.

Teach Like God

For ten summers I studied at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem (SHI). I gathered with rabbis from around North America representing the diversity of the Jewish People: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox leaders including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Flyers Tying Jews to Anti-Vaxxers Found at Santa Monica Schools

A slew of flyers that seem to be accusing Jews of being tied to the anti-vaccine movement were found at multiple schools in Santa Monica on January 13.

Hollywood

Podcasts

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x