As an educational organization supporting Israel and combating anti-Semitism, StandWithUs has always understood the importance of engaging audiences and individuals with meaningful and accurate information to effect positive change. Stories like that of Adam Elayan — a young man who once embraced anti-Semitism and its stereotypes but has since educated himself, altered his views and spoken out against anti-Semitic bigotry — continue to give us great hope for the continued success of our efforts.
Adam’s story emphasizes the urgency of education and its exceptional
ability to make our world better. We hope that this story helps others see what we see: that combating anti-Semitism is not just about pushing away hate, but also bringing in new friends. We commend Adam for his courage, and we are thankful for his friendship.
Adam’s story comes at an uncertain time, as concerns persist within the Jewish community about the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the United States. It is easy to fall instinctively into a protective posture and seek distance during such divisive times.
However, Adam’s narrative shows how courage, meaningful engagement, education and personal conversations can help drive out toxic ideas and produce better understanding among people, especially with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We encourage readers to seek inspiration in Adam’s story and to view the challenges it includes as opportunities, rather than roadblocks.
The battle against anti-Semitism is one not against people, but against bad ideas. By providing people with the educational tools that they need to gain an accurate understanding, we allow them to fight — and replace — these bad ideas with good ones. When possible, efforts to combat hate should begin with corrective action, seeking not to punish but to heal — to connect and open new doors.
Through our work, we see new opportunities emerging every day, which continue to fuel our hope. While Israel is making peace with its neighbors in the Middle East, American Jews are building new bridges with other communities. At StandWithUs, we continue to fight anti-Semitism actively and vigorously through educational efforts and legal tools, with the same bridge-building and door-opening goals.
In an age of rampant misinformation, our work to bring people in rather than withdraw from them has never been more urgently needed. As the world is trying to adapt to a new reality in which hate travels instantly via social media, stories like Adam’s remind us that behind every handle and every post, there is a real human being with the potential for change. JN
Roz Rothstein is the co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs. Hussein Aboubakr, a former political refugee, works for the Center of Combating Anti-Semitism, a division of StandWithUs, and is a graduate student of International Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of "Minority of One: The Unchaining of an Arab Mind." This article first appeared on JNS.com.