Follow our conversation on Anti-Semitism Today with Richard Hirschhaut, Los Angeles Director of the American Jewish Committee
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Yom HaShoah Shabbat
Guest speaker: Richard Hirschhaut
Hirschhaut, Director of American Jewish Committee, Los Angeles, chief
strategist and principal spokesperson in advancing AJC’s global advocacy
mission in Southern California.This is considered the “ dean of American Jewish
organizations.” He has been involved for over 30 years in civil rights,
humanitarian, and Jewish communal advocacy, serving in senior professional
roles across the U.S. with the Anti-Defamation League, Illinois Holocaust
Museum and Education Center, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and
American Friends of Rambam Medical Center.
His wife, Susan,
together with her sister , Shirley Jaspar, are well known to us at HTBE,
through their late father, Alex Satmary, Z’L. Alex used to grace the front row
of the chapekl, right in front of me, every Shabbat. He had the unique, if
troubling , distinction, of being treated as a Jewish slave laborer by the
Hungarian Army during WWII, and then as a Hungarian enemy prisoner of war by
the Soviets. Damned this way, damned that way-which may be a metaphor for the
Jewish condition through much of history.
My first area of
concern would seem to be very innocuous. Several years ago, the State of
California decided to introduce the study of California ‘s ethnic minorities as
part of required Academic curriculum. What should have been a fairly benign
study of the manifold communities that make us this state, it turned into a
minefield, especially for us as Jews .It seemed, at least in the initial
version, as if we were, like Alex, prisoners of both sides
Q. Rabbi: Just a month
ago, Richard,,, you gave a talk online for the American Jewish University,
addressing just this issue, and the tile forms my questions: Is There a Place for Jews in an Ethnic Studies
2019, while we were were moving about freely, without masks, and the economy
was strong, we Jews were very nervous.
organization produced the following report:
AJC Survey of American Jews on Antisemitism in America
AJC’s 2019 Survey of
American Jewish Attitudes about Antisemitism, conducted by the research company
SSRS, is based on telephone interviews carried out September 11 - October 6,
with a national sample of 1,283 Jews over age 18. The margin of error is plus
or minus 4.2%. Just to summarize, 88% of us thought it was a problem.
Now,. We have gone
through more than a year of lockdowns, quarantines, vaccinations- no
surprise to anyone, that there are those that consider it a Jewish plot-nothing
new at that. The question is- what parts of the American population, and at
what percentage, really by into this idea of the Jew as the “umgluck”, as the
Nazis would say, that dangerous cabal. In the milder form, how much of the
American population buys into the idea that Jews are part of the oppressive
system, responsible for keeping down other minorities down?
Under the previous President
Trump, there were significant breakthroughs on the diplomatic front between
Israel – relations with the Gulf States and other Moslem countries, Iran put on
notice regarding nuclear weapons.
Now, with the new
President Biden, are we going to see more of the same kind of support, or a
return to the cold relation that prevailed under President Obama. And, as a
corollary, are we seeing a realignment of the two parties, where there is no
longer solid bi-partisan support for Israel?