Jewish Perceptions of Antisemitism

By Gary A. Tobin; Sharon L. Sassler | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
COMBATTING AND
CONTAINING ANTISEMITISM

Except for those who deny the existence of antisemitism, Jews believe that it must be combatted and controlled. They debate how to do that best. Almost all strategies involve a political component. Certainly, the work of the community relations agencies is a critical collective response to antisemitism. While operating in the social and educational realms, developing intergroup dialogue, or a school curriculum about the Holocaust, these agencies are actively involved in a wide variety of political processes.

Combatting antisemitism has evolved along with a broader agenda of promoting civil liberties, separation of church and state, and building political coalitions with other groups that share common interests. Since Jews believe that antisemitism cannot be eradicated, they work feverishly to utilize the political system to contain anti‐ semitism. Political issues, like all other aspects of the American Jewish experience, are assessed through the bifocals that Jews wear because they live in two worlds. Like other Americans, Jews will calculate social and economic costs or the morality of a piece of legislation. But on nearly all issues they will also ask, "Is it good or bad for the Jews?"

Perceptions of antisemitism are part of that evaluation. Certainly, Jews do not operate within the political system only from the particularistic concern of combatting antisemitism. A wide variety of issues obviously concern

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