A decade ago, when Adam Milstein told people the ugly monster of antisemitism was on its way to America and would unleash violence against Jews, most people didn’t believe him. Milstein, an Israeli-American businessman, philanthropist and activist who served for the IDF in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, believes there are no easy answers to the question of how to combat antisemitism and the demonization of Israel. In the sea of Jew hatred, where a rant from a celebrity can set off a deluge, he insisted that to stay afloat, American Jewry needs all hands on deck. “I was told I was an alarmist and if I would not speak about this, it would go away,” Milstein said of the antisemitic Boycott Divest and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against Israel. “Today, antisemitism is normal in the United States. I think antisemitism is a danger to America. Antisemites are the enemies of the American people and not just the Jewish people. We need to understand that the battle is about America.”
Milstein says there is no “silver bullet,” to fight hate and argues that a number of different strategies must be used.
So, five years ago, together with his wife Gila and a group of devoted Los Angeles based philanthropists he founded the Impact Forum. The Impact Forum, which has since evolved into a 501c3 nonprofit organization, convenes a network of like-minded philanthropists, coming together to empower a network of organizations whose mission is to fight antisemitism, and support the State of Israel and the United States. The organizations in the Impact Forum network are provided with financial support, as well as other resources to improve capacity and maximize their impact. Through the Impact Forum, participating nonprofits are encouraged to collaborates with other groups that share the same mission and compliment their work. “If we want to defeat antisemitism, we can’t do it alone,” Milstein said. “We need to have a network or an alliance of many organizations, working together, fighting on different fronts. No one organization can do it all. We need to have many organizations that are on our side and willing to join forces.”
“We need to have a network or an alliance of many organizations, working together, fighting on different fronts. No one organization can do it all. We need to have many organizations that are on our side and willing to join forces.”
On May 11, The Impact Forum Foundation will host “A Night of Impact,” an exclusive dinner for philanthropists in Los Angeles. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sheila Nazarian, a Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon. Her Netflix show “Skin Decision: Before and After” received an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Lifestyle Series.” She’s also an influencer who speaks out against antisemitism, once tweeting, “If you are silent when terrorists murder Israelis, stay silent when Israel defends itself.”
A panel of social media influencers will discuss questions of how best to fight antisemitism and establish an Iron Dome through social media. Emily Austin, an actress and model who hosts “Daily Vibes with Emily Austin” on Instagram Live and has more than 1.1 million Instagram followers, will participate in the panel. She was instrumental in getting the Miami Heat to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day. She’s joined by Australian actor Nathaniel Buzolic, a star of “The Vampire Diaries” and “Saving Zöe” with four million total social media followers. Although he is Christian, he has led tours in Israel and believes in the country’s right to self-determination. Lizzy Savetsky, a former cast member of “The Real Housewives of New York,” is an influencer who prides herself on fighting against antisemitism. Her throngs of followers appreciate her honesty, her fearlessness, her passion for fashion and matchmaking, and she even developed a show “Bashert” for IGTV.
The evening will feature presentations by StopAntisemitism, a social media watchdog that holds antisemites accountable; and Tazpit Press Service, an Israel-based news agency which disseminates crucial news across the globe in real-time.
The Impact Forum Foundation has provided funding, services, and strategic guidance to about 50 organizations, including social media organizations, think tanks and others.
CyberWell, a beneficiary of the Impact Forum, monitors online hate on social media — specifically cases of Jew-hatred. CyberWell’s findings of over 1,000 antisemitic tweets on Twitter, were the basis of a joint letter sent by 180 organizations to Elon Musk asking him to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism for Twitter.
CyberWell Chief Executive Officer Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor gave credit to the Impact Forum. “We wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground without the support of the Impact Forum,” she said. “Adam is a philanthropist and entrepreneur. He not only has a great understanding of what is needed but a realization that in these times, tech is powerful. He also recognizes the importance of young leadership.”
According to Milstein, people should not underestimate the power of social media and famous people who target Israel and Jews, including Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. “Celebrities criticizing Israel have an outsized impact and there are many people that believe everything Kanye says.
“The only thing that works is fighting back, together,” Milstein said.
There is no way to stop all attacks against the Jewish community, he said, but a coordinated effort that is strategic and diverse will result in more impact. Events such as “A Night of Impact” offer philanthropists an opportunity to see what impact they can make in the struggle against antisemitism with their funding.
“It is not strictly a Jewish problem, but a problem for all of America.”
For information about attending the event, and related inquiries, contact Orit@ImpactForumFoundation.org.