Follow our conversation on Anti-Semitism Today with Richard Hirschhaut, Los Angeles Director of the American Jewish Committee
Yom HaShoah Shabbat April 10
Guest speaker: Richard Hirschhaut
Richard S. 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 Curriculum?
Back in 2019, while we were were moving about freely, without masks, and the economy was strong, we Jews were very nervous.
Your own organization produced the following report:
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?