December 8, 2019

StandWithUs Launches Center for Combating Anti-Semitism

Photo courtesy of StandWithUs.

On July 15, StandWithUs announced the launch of its new Center for Combating Anti-Semitism (CCA).

In an exclusive interview with the Journal, CCA Director and Counsel for Litigation Strategy Carly Gammill said StandWithUs decided to establish the center because “we really have sensed this growing need to take this concerted action” against the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide.

“What we are endeavoring to do is kind of a four-fold approach to anti-Semitism, which is identifying anti-Semitism, defining it, exposing it and then taking the necessary and appropriate actions when you see it.”

To this end, CCA plans to produce various educational booklets on anti-Semitism. Gammill said that they’re currently working on a booklet titled “What Is Anti-Semitism,” so people “know it when you see it.” The booklet will use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism stating that anti-Semitism involves myths that Jews control “the media, economy, government or other societal institutions,” Holocaust denial and illegitimate criticisms of Israel. The booklet will also lay out the history behind anti-Semitism.

“This younger generation maybe don’t know the history [of anti-Semitism] and they forget the importance of the words,” Gammill said. “They don’t understand when you use certain words there are implications.”

“This younger generation maybe don’t know the history [of anti-Semitism] and they forget the importance of the words. They don’t understand when you use certain words there are implications.” – Carly Gammill

Other booklets will focus on anti-Semitism on college campuses and explain when academia crosses the line from “education” into “indoctrination.” Gammill said, adding, “A lot of these booklets will serve a dual purpose, of educating but also exposing [anti-Semitism].”

Additionally, the CCA will take action against instances of anti-Semitism. One such action will include working with university administrators on guidelines to address anti-Semitism on their respective campuses.

“One of the things we would really love to see them do is use their own free speech to condemn, unequivocally, acts of anti-Semitism,” Gammill said, adding that by condemning anti-Semitism, universities would go “a long way toward helping the Jewish members of a campus community to feel welcome and safe —  to feel like they are supported. In the absence of that type of condemnation, they’re left to wonder where they stand in the eyes of the [university] administration.”

The CCA will also seek to take legal action in instances where universities are taking insufficient action to address anti-Semitism on campus, Gammill said, pointing out that StandWithUs has “a network of some 170 pro-bono attorneys” that would be available to students and community members.

Gammill hopes that the CCA will be “a very cooperative and collaborative endeavor. There are a number of other fantastic organizations out there that share these goals and share this as an issue of great importance and our great hope is that we will be in a position to partner with them, cooperate with them, collaborate with them, because I think that there’s just no other option at this point. We’ve got to all be headed in the same direction together.”

The CCA will hold a launch event sometime in the fall.

Justin Feldman, the outgoing president of UCLA’s Students Supporting Israel chapter, StandWithUs’ Southwest High School Assistant from August 2017 to May 2019 and a 2019 StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, told the Journal in a phone interview that he is proud that StandWithUs has created the CCA. “I am hoping the creation of this new institution will usher in a new wave of educated young minds who incorporate training on anti-Semitism in their discourse in all spaces, in all political affiliations,” Feldman said.

Santa Barbara Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Evan Goodman similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “American Jews, including Jewish college students, are experiencing anti-Semitic acts with alarming frequency. We witnessed the tragic consequences of this in the vicious anti-Semitic attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway. At Santa Barbara Hillel, the safety and security of our students is paramount. In recent months, we worked with StandWithUs to provide legal support for students who experienced anti-Semitic attacks. We welcome the enhanced StandWithUs Center for Combating Anti-Semitism as one of our valued and trusted partners fighting against the rise of anti-Semitism.”