Anti-Semitism is a prejudice and/or discrimination against Jews. Anti-Semitism can be based on hatred against Jews because of their religious beliefs, their group membership (ethnicity) and sometimes on the erroneous belief that Jews are a “race.”
In Germany today, governmental safeguards against fascist anti-Semitism have been instituted and yet young neo-Nazi's, frustrated at rising unemployment, look for scapegoats. When they cannot find living Jews, they desecrate Jewish cemeteries. They also look for other vulnerable targets such as immigrant workers. Physical attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in Europe come from some in the Muslim community under the guise of anti-Zionism. In Eastern Europe, the collapse of the Soviet Union has brought with it a rise in nationalist groups that use anti-Semitism to meet their political ends. There is even anti- Semitism in countries where there are virtually no Jews.
The United States has been unique in its constitutional separation of church and state, full provision for citizenship for Jews, and its institutional support of Jewish life from President Washington to the present. Despite enjoying the full benefits of citizenship, Jews are still being victimized by acts of hate. In addition, extremist groups promote racist and anti-Semitic world views and are actively recruiting young people through various means including music and the Internet. Although such groups constitute only a tiny minority, one of the lessons we learn about anti-Semitism is that we can never be complacent.
65 ways you can take action:
1 Know your roots and share your pride in your heritage with others.
2 Celebrate holidays with extended family. Use such opportunities to encourage storytelling and share personal experiences across generations.
3 Invite friends from backgrounds different from your own to experience the joy of your traditions and customs.
4 Be mindful of your language; avoid stereotypical remarks and challenge those made by others.
5 Speak out against jokes and slurs that target people or groups. Silence sends a message that you are in agreement. It is not enough to refuse to laugh.
6 Be knowledgeable; provide as much accurate information as possible to reject harmful myths and stereotypes. Discuss as a family the impact of prejudicial attitudes and behavior.
7 Plan family outings to diverse neighborhoods in and around your community and visit local museums, galleries and exhibits that celebrate art forms of different cultures.
8 Visit important landmarks in your area associated with the struggle for human and civil rights such as museums, public libraries and historical sites.
9 Research your family tree and trace your family’s involvement in the struggle for civil and human rights or the immigration experience. Identify personal heroes and positive role models.
10 Read and encourage your children to read books that promote understanding of different cultures as well as those that are written by authors of diverse backgrounds.
IN YOUR SCHOOL
11 Initiate classroom discussions of terms such as anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and bias. Then compose a list of definitions and post it in a prominent place
12 Establish a Diversity Club that serves as an umbrella organization to promote harmony and respect for differences. Reach out to sports teams, drama clubs and language clubs for ideas and involvement.
13 Invite a motivational speaker who is a recognized civil or human rights leader to address an all-school assembly. Videotape the speech and publish an interview with the speaker in the school and local newspapers.
14 Organize an essay contest whose theme is either a personal experience with prejudice or a success story in the fight against it. Suggest that the winning entries be published in your school newspaper, featured in your town newspaper or highlighted on a local cable program.
15 Create an anti-prejudice slogan for your school that could be printed as a bumper sticker and sold in the wider community to raise funds for these efforts.
16 Hold a “Rock Against Racism” concert, or a dance-a-thon, bike-a-thon, car wash, or battle-ofthe-bands and donate the proceeds from ticket sales to underwrite diversity training and other programs for the school.
17 Form a student-faculty committee to write “Rules of Respect” for your school and display the finished set of rules in every classroom.
18 Invite your district attorney, police chief or a representative from the attorney general’s office to speak to your school about civil rights, hate crimes and other legal aspects of the fight against prejudice.
19 Designate a wall space on or near school grounds where graffiti with a harmonious and unifying message can be written, drawn or painted.
20 Publish a newsletter specifically devoted to promoting respect for diversity and publicizing multicultural events. Try to have your local newspaper or community Internet home page do the same.
21 Encourage representation of all students on every school board, committee, group publication, and team. 24 Write an original song/chant/rap that celebrates your school’s diversity and perform it at school rallies and other events.
22 Create a flag or poster that symbolizes your school’s ideal of diversity and display it at games, assemblies and other school events.
23 Hold a T-shirt contest to come up with a logo or slogan like “I Don’t Put Up With Put-Downs.” The winning T-shirt design could be printed and sold at your school bookstore, at community events, sports competitions, and in local shops.
24 Create a school calendar with all the holidays and important civil rights dates represented.
25 Create an orientation program that addresses the needs of students of all backgrounds so that they feel welcome when joining the student body.
26 Initiate a pin drive in which students look for pins with positive slogans and tack them onto a designated bulletin board in the student lounge or other central gathering area.
27 Poll your teachers about their ethnic/cultural backgrounds and their experiences with prejudice. Ask each to write a short paragraph on the subject that can be compiled along with photos in a teacher “mug book.”
28 Produce a “Proud Out Loud” video comprised of interviews with students and their grandparents about their ethnic heritage and why they are proud of it.
29 Host a Poetry Slam in which students read aloud original poems/raps that break down stereotypes and promote respect for diversity. Invite participants to present their work at PTA meetings, Chamber of Commerce events and other community gatherings.
30 Research pro-diversity Web sites, then build a Web page for your school and link it to others on the Internet.
31 Create a student-run Speakers Bureau where students of different backgrounds speak about their heritage. Identify local community leaders, civil rights veterans, Holocaust survivors, and others to partner with students in this effort.
32 Devise a skit contest with themes that promote diversity.
33 Turn a school assembly into a game show for students of all grades called “Cultural Pursuit.” Ask teachers to develop questions covering every discipline and hold “culture bees” in their classrooms to determine assembly contestants.
34 Devote time in art classes to designing a Diversity Quilt with each patch representing a student’s individual heritage. Have all classes combine their patchwork squares to form a school quilt for display in the community.
35 Organize a No-Ethnic/Homophoic Humor Open-Mike Nite featuring stand-up comedy by students.
36 Meet with food services at your school to discuss the possibility of featuring ethnic cuisines on a regular basis. Consult with local restaurants and community groups to participate in the program.
37 Construct a multimedia display that examines how today’s media perpetuates stereotypes. Consider current films, television sitcoms, music, and advertising campaigns, in addition to newspapers, magazines and books.
38 Research peace negotiations going on around the world regarding ethnic or racial conflict. Then stage a mock summit in which students take on the roles of international leaders and try to resolve these crises.
39 Look for examples of youth who have struggled to overcome oppression throughout history and create an original dramatic performance based on their experiences.
40 Sponsor a “Dance for Diversity” dance-a-thon and approach a local radio station about broadcasting live from your event. The station could also run student written PSAs leading up to and following the event.
41 Establish a school exchange that matches students from different schools to bring youth of differing backgrounds closer together.
42 Start an annual multicultural film festival at your school. Invite community groups and local theaters to be co-sponsors.
43 Recreate the Ellis Island Immigration Station for a school-wide event. Involve teachers from all disciplines to create period costumes and scenery and prepare traditional foods. Issue passports to all students attending and lead “new immigrants” through the interview process.
44 Collect samples of popular teen magazines and comic books from around the world. Ask your librarian to set aside a special corner for them in the periodical room.
45 Research children’s books representing the experiences of different ethnic groups or that define family in different ways. Then initiate a reading program with a local bookstore or library that features these books.
46 Survey local card and gift shops for product lines geared to diverse groups. Write to greeting card companies and local merchants to advocate for expanding the diversity of selections. Coordinate a contest to create a line of cards/note paper that promotes respect for diversity.
47 Approach the guidance office about hosting a career workshop led by professionals who can discuss diversity in their respective fields.
48 Ask your school to host an Internship Fair for groups such as civic organizations that hire student interns.
49 Advocate for the production of school plays that are sensitive to multiculturalism and incorporate a variety of roles and perspectives.
50 Ensure that musical selections of school bands and choruses are culturally diverse.
51 Speak to each of your teachers about posting a list somewhere in the classroom of famous pioneers/leaders in their field, with a special focus on diversity.
52 Collect famous speeches about civil rights. Put them together in a binder or in a video collection and make the collection available to your whole school community.
53 Research civil unrest in this country, from slavery rebellions, to Chicago in the 1960s, to Stonewall in 1969, to Los Angeles in the 1990s.
54 Survey the colleges in your area about diversity and affinity clubs at their schools. Invite a panel of representatives to speak to the senior class about “Prejudice on the College Campus: What to Look for – What to Do.”
IN THE WORKPLACE
55 Make respect for diversity a core value in your company and articulate it as such in the company’s handbook/employee manual.
56 Provide ongoing awareness programs about the value of human diversity to all employees in the organization.
57 Incorporate diversity as a business goal. Secure a high degree of commitment from all employees.
58 Become aware and respectful of individual work styles.
59 Create an environment conducive to the exploration of diversity.
60 Learn about coworkers’ backgrounds and share your own. Ask questions that invite explanation and answer with the same.
61 Create a display area where employees can post notices of events and activities happening in their communities.
62 Publish and distribute to all staff a list of ethnic and/or religious holidays and the meaning of the customs associated with celebrating them.
63 Sponsor a lunchtime “brown-bag” series that features speakers on diversity topics.
64 Sponsor a mentoring program and reach out to students in local high schools and colleges.
65 Provide opportunities to attend local cultural events and exhibits.
66 Participate as a sponsor in community events that support the health and welfare of society.
Ableism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people with mental or physical disabilities.
Ageism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their age.
Anti-bias is an active commitment to challenging prejudice, stereotyping and all forms of discrimination.
Bias is an inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment.
Bigotry is an unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices.
Classism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their real or perceived economic status.
Culture is the patterns of daily life learned consciously and unconsciously by a group of people. These patterns can be seen in language, governing practices, arts, customs, holiday celebrations, food, religion, dating rituals, and clothing, to name a few examples.
Discrimination is the denial of justice and fair treatment by both individuals and institutions in many arenas, including employment, education, housing, banking, and political rights. Discrimination is an action that can follow prejudiced thinking.
Diversity means different or varied. The population of the United States is made up of people from diverse races, cultures and places.
Hate crimes are defined under specific penal code sections as an act or an attempted act by any person against the person or property of another individual or group which in any way constitutes an expression of hostility toward the victim because of his or her race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender, or ethnicity.
* This includes but is not limited to threatening phone calls, hate mail, physical assaults, vandalism, cross burnings, destruction of religious symbols, and fire bombings.
* Elements of crime statutes and protected classifications vary state to state.
Hate-motivated incidents are defined as behavior which constitutes an expression of hostility against the person or property of another because of the victim’s race, religion, disability, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Hate-motivated incidents include those actions that are motivated by bias, but do not meet the necessary elements required to prove a crime. They may include such behavior as non-threatening name calling, using racial slurs or disseminating racist leaflets.
Heterosexism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people who are or who are perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Homophobia is the irrational fear of people who are believed to be lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Multicultural means many or multiple cultures. The United States is multicultural because its population consists of people from many different cultures.
Prejudice is pre-judging, making a decision about a person or group of people without sufficient knowledge. Prejudicial thinking is frequently based on stereotypes.
Racism is a prejudice and/or discrimination based on the social construction of “race.” Differences in physical characteristics (e.g., skin color, hair texture, eye shape) are used to support a system of inequities.
Scapegoating is the action of blaming an individual or group for something when, in reality, there is no one person or group responsible for the problem. It targets another person or group as responsible for problems in society because of that person’s group identity.
Sexism is prejudice and/or discrimination based on gender.
A stereotype is an oversimplified generalization about a person or group of people without regard for individual differences. Even seemingly positive stereotypes that link a person or group to a specific positive trait can have negative consequences.