Sunday’s “No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People” at the National Mall was a welcome communal reaction to the disturbing rise of antisemitism across the country. Speakers at the event included religious and political leaders, allies from various organizational and religious groups and several victims of recent antisemitic attacks.
The message was clear: Jewish people must not be afraid to be Jewish. And speakers emphasized the imperative of calling out antisemitism, no matter who espouses it or where the hatemonger falls on the political spectrum. That commitment to zero tolerance is important. Because, in our polarized world, even people of goodwill are sometimes hesitant to react forcefully to antisemitic messages from their own camps — preferring instead to focus on the hate that emerges from those of a different political persuasion. But, as we all know, antisemitism exists on the right and on the left, and standing up to it sometimes requires outing those who otherwise vote the same way you do.
It was for that reason that one of the more powerful moments at the rally was when former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and former Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla), chair of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, stood together at the podium to bring that message home.
“Antisemitism is not just a Republican problem or a Democrat problem, and Republicans and Democrats share a common interest in calling it out whenever we see it, even if it’s from our own backyard,” Coleman said. That sentiment was echoed by Klein: “Together we say there is no place in America for antisemitism from any source, not from either side of the aisle, from any group, individual or elected official.”
The brief, but important organizational history of the rally itself also speaks to the same “broad tent” issue. In its initial stages, most of the rally’s sponsors were like-minded, unquestionably well-intentioned, rightward-leaning individuals and organizations. By all accounts, that changed with the involvement of Elisha Wiesel, the son of the late Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who helped attract support from a broader array of individuals and organizations. In the end, more than 100 Jewish organizations sponsored the rally, in what Wiesel aptly described as a “big tent approach to combating antisemitism.”
But while the rally was impressive and its message compelling, it was only a very welcome first step. We must do more. The repeated call to action from multiple speakers needs to be followed by concrete steps. That includes more comprehensive measures by federal and state government to combat antisemitism, and for all of us to work together and with our allies to discredit and to sanction those who cross the line from legitimate criticism to hate, irrespective of who they are or how they vote.
We encourage the fight against antisemitism from the “big tent.” And we invite those in a position to do so to step forward and lead by moral example. JN