PHOTO: Bob Horenstein presents "The Mainstreaming of Antisemitism in America" as part of the City of WIlsonville's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Lecture Series on May 4 at Charbonneau Country Club. Photo by Michelle Bombet Minch
BY ROCKNE ROLL
The goals of Jewish Federation of Greater Portland Community Relations Director Bob Horenstein’s presentation series on antisemitism are straightforward:
“We need everyone to speak up against it,” Horenstein says. “And you can’t do that if you don’t know what it is.”
Horenstein explains in his presentation, “The Mainstreaming of Antisemitism in America,” that the modern face of antisemitism is not as straightforward as perhaps it has been in the past.
“You think about antisemitism from the far right, we’re talking about white nationalists, neo-Nazis, how can it be mainstreamed? Every person of goodwill thinks neo-Nazis are abhorrent, right?” Horenstein asks. “But when you show them examples of how it’s seeping into the mainstream, that’s surprising to them.”
Horenstein covers the direct line between hateful stereotyping of Jews, which data shows is ingrained deeply into American society, and acts of violence as well as the emergence of anti-
semitic rhetoric surrounding the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement and other efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel. He clearly lays out that, whether left-wing or right-wing, antisemitism is espoused by extremist political organizations throughout the country and beyond.
“I think for many people who think they know what antisemitism is, they don’t recognize that it’s also coming from the far left,” Horenstein says.
Horenstein has visited groups ranging from police departments to city and county governments, and school and community organizations focused on civil rights and inclusiveness. When he’s received evaluations after some of his presentations, respondents have regularly said they were unaware of what to look for when trying to address antisemitism.
“It’s very clear that they’re unsure about Jewish identity, they’re unsure about Zionism, they’re unsure about antisemitism and what it actually is, how it manifests, how it’s being normalized,” he says.
The biggest goal, Horenstein continues, is to empower and encourage people to speak up when they notice antisemitism or any other form of hate, since, as he notes in his presentation, where there is antisemitism, other forms of hatred are never far off.
“We all need to speak up, because we all need to be allies to one another,” Horenstein says. “That’s the only way this is going to end is that we have people speaking up.”
For more information or to request a presentation, contact Horenstein at 503-245-6496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s vitally important to report antisemitic incidents, large and small, so that communities, law enforcement and state agencies can track their prevalence. Please contact Regional Community Security Advisor Jessica Anderson (email@example.com or 503-985-6093) or use the incident reporting form on jewishportland.org/security.