L to R Elan Carr, Eric Adams, Natan Sharansky, Adam Beren
L to R Elan Carr, Eric Adams, Natan Sharansky, Adam BerenCombat Antisemitism Movement

On Tuesday, in the heart of Manhattan, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) welcomed Jewish and non-Jewish leaders from around the world to join the New York Symposium Against Antisemitism. Notable speakers and collaborators included Natan Sharansky — the Chair of CAM’s Advisory Board, former Soviet prisoner, former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, and the leader of the Free Soviet Jewry Movement — former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

“We are using antiquated methods to dismantle a modern-day crisis,” Mayor Adams began by saying. “If our methods are to merely sit in a sterilized environment of a room like this, with those of us who are all part of the same choir, that is not how you’re going to end antisemitism. The problem is not in this room, the problem is out there.”

“Young people are being fed hate every day,” said Adams as he began to reference social media. “If you aspire to be like someone, even when they do positive things, you’ll aspire to be like them when they start to do negative things. Don’t underestimate the power of Kanye West and what he did, and the millions and millions of young people who know nothing about the history of what antisemitism represents. They only know the modern-day version of the credible messenger. When you are in pain, you reach out and displace your anger at whatever fits the conversation that's available. I see young people drawing swastikas without knowing what it is.”

Adams went so far as to say, “Some of our greatest legal minds need to come together and sue the social media companies that are destroying our communities and our cities and feeding our children the hate and despair they’re witnessing.”

“Regular conversations like these with a diverse body of our Jewish and non-Jewish friends represent the grassroots effort to tackle Jew hatred in New York and every major city worldwide,” said CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa. “For those of us who are Jewish, let’s take great pride in our heritage and our story. And for those who are not, I can’t thank you enough for being a voice of reason in a world filled with hate and chaos. CAM and its mission can only thrive if we have a broad and bold coalition, and that’s exactly what we’ve built today.”

CAM had 55 partner organizations present to discuss new strategies to combat antisemitism at today’s symposium.

In a similar reminder of the influences facing younger generations that Adams referenced, Natan Sharansky said, “The most important beachhead in the struggle for the future of the Jewish people are on our campuses. And today of course, antisemitism has gotten so big, there is a rise on the left, the right, in the Islamist community, and elsewhere.”

“Antisemitism for thousands of years was always uniting our people, religious or nonreligious. Whether in Paris or Kiev, it didn’t matter,” added Sharansky. It came from all different directions, he observed, but the Jewish people were always united in their response.

“Today, it’s not the case,” Sharansky mourned. “Some rabbis in their synagogues are afraid to speak about this phenomenon, because it has become very political, on the left and the right. One says, ’The real antisemitism is on the left.’ The other says, ’The real antisemitism is on the right.’ Or the real antisemites are Antifa, or the Proud Boys.”

When the left can’t get along with the right, and vice versa, “There are zero results, because it has become political,” Sharansky exclaimed. “People on the left have to fight antisemitism on the left, and people on the right have to fight antisemitism on the right."

Sharansky spent 9 years in Soviet prisons, and several years in solitary confinement. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel from 2001 to 2003.

“CAM is unlike any other organization in the Jewish world for one simple reason,” said Elan Carr. “We aren’t about staking out our own turf, carving out a particular area that is exclusively ours, establishing hegemony or a domain that nobody can share — that is not CAM’s way. We are all about forging coalitions, building unity, empowering others, and coming together in important creative opportunities that make real and measured impact. CAM does that every day, and with a global reach.”

One example Carr provided was what unfolded in Virginia, where CAM brought together a coalition with many of the major national Jewish organizations, every single federation in the state of VA, and every single JCRC in the state of Virginia to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism.

“Together we crafted a plan for passing IHRA in a state where passing IHRA was very, very contentious, in part for political reasons,” said Carr. “It was only because of the united front that we presented that IHRA sailed past both houses of the General Assembly in Virginia, including unanimously in the senate.”

“Thank God CAM’s modus operandi is to forge this kind of unity,” he concluded.

Those at CAM’s symposium also heard from Hassan Naveed at the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, a mayoral office in New York City. They partner with 60 organizations throughout the city to thwart hate crimes, 20 of which represent the Jewish community.

“This coalition is the first of its kind,” said Naveed. “There’s no other office like ours elsewhere in the country.”

“Misinformation is at an all-time high,” Naveed added. “We have to combat hate with education. An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us.”

Naveed’s office is putting together a hate crime education curriculum in schools, which includes putting together resource guides on antisemitism.