In last week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, we read the famous words: “Justice, justice you shall pursue!” (Deut. 16:20) So it should be no surprise that justice is a central part of young Jews’ identity today. Whether working on behalf of social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, or any other form of justice, the “Jewish genome” is highly sensitive to bringing forth justice for those who’ve been discriminated against.
Over the last 100 years in America, Jews have been at the forefront in helping advance every major social justice movement, from the civil rights movement to the American labor movement. And it is my firm belief that when we look back on this moment in next 100 years, this will be seen as the era in American history when we doubled-down on creating justice out of overwhelming injustice.
We will look back and recognize how the #MeToo movement began to right the sexual harassment wrongs that have continued for far too long in our partriarchal systems.
We will look back and recognize that the Women’s March began to right the wrongs that have been committed against women at every level in the establishment.
We will look back and recognized that the Black Lives Matter protests continued to right the wrongs done against BIPOC people for more than two centuries in America.
BUT, what will they say when they look back and see that antisemitism grew to unprecedented levels during this era and our allies were nowhere to be found? What will they say when they look back and see that Jews were attacked in American streets and bystanders were unwilling to stand up for them? What will they say when they look back and see that anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism spread on social media like a global cancer with nobody willing to take down the hate-filled posts?
As Deborah Lipstadt takes on a new role this week, appointed by President Biden as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, let’s all join together to make sure she succeeds, so we may look back on this era of doubling-down on justice and not be filled with shame seeing that the Jews were left hanging out to dry. And instead, let this be the moment when the tides began to change and MLK’s famous rallying cry “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” comes to apply to all those being discriminated against, including Israel and the Jewish People.