Over 300 San Diegans Attend Antisemitism Symposium

Event Hosted by American Jewish Committee & Jewish Federation of San Diego

On Sunday, February 4, more than 300 people gathered for an impactful event hosted by American Jewish Committee (AJC) San Diego and Jewish Federation of San Diego aimed at addressing rising antisemitism and developing tools to stop its spread.

The event, “Standing Together: A Community Response to Antisemitism,” featured a keynote panel discussion with AJC CEO Ted Deutch and former Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman on their experiences and recommendations for addressing antisemitism at a time when it is surging in California and across the nation.

“Golda Meir once said that ‘Jews don't have the option of being pessimists. And if you can't be a pessimist, you better have hope,’” Foxman said. “We can't go out without hope – but hope in itself is not enough. […] You’ve got to do something about it to make sure there's reason for hope.”

Deutch said in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, special attention had to be paid to social media, where misinformation was spreading just hours after the massacre of 1,200 people.

“We have seen so many young people turn to TikTok for everything that they learn about 10/7 and, for the first time, thinking about Israel and the Palestinians and Hamas,” Deutch said. “It is all a really dangerous mix and we have to fight it, and we have to do it as a community.”

According to the American Jewish Committee 2023 State of Antisemitism Report, the majority of American Jews feel less safe since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. These troubling statistics make clear that combating antisemitism can no longer remain the responsibility of a few small agencies. Federation President and CEO Heidi Gantwerk addressed this need during her opening remarks.

“The world has changed since [October 7]. Combatting antisemitism cannot be the work of a few; it must become something all of us do together,” Gantwerk said. “I am heartened to see so many gathered here today, particularly our allies outside of the Jewish community. Through enduring partnerships with government officials, law enforcement, interfaith and educational institutions, we can create a unified voice echoing from all those in San Diego who stand opposed to hatred and intolerance of all kinds.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria also spoke at the event, reaffirming the City of San Diego’s commitment to supporting the local Jewish community, standing in solidarity with Israel – particularly San Diego’s sister region Sha’ar HaNegev – and addressing the rise in antisemitism that continues to plague our region.

The day-long symposium included engaging breakout sessions devoted to discussion, coalition building and learning how to implement strategies included in the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism (released last year by the White House) at the local level. These sessions included:

  • “Dispute But Also Create: Ending Antisemitism on Campus,” moderated by Rich Leib, Chairman of the University of California Board of Regents
  • “Reimagining Conversations About Israel and Antisemitism,” featuring Oren Jacobsen, Co-founder of Project Shema
  • “Recognize & Report: Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes,” featuring San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan
  • “Combating Misinformation and Disinformation,” with Katherine Keneally, Head of Threat Analysis and Prevention for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and Laurie Moskowitz, Principal of LORE Strategies

The day concluded with a plenary session featuring author and thought-leader Eric K. Ward on the importance of diversity and communal allyship in the fight against antisemitism.

“The Jewish people of San Diego have been deeply impacted by rising antisemitism across the country and here at home,” AJC San Diego Director Sara Brown said. “We must work together to end this scourge because antisemitism is not just a threat against Jews. It is a threat to our democracy, our liberty, our values, and our freedoms. We were proud to bring the community to proactively and constructively develop a whole-of-society approach to ending antisemitism. Together, we will move forward as a more welcoming, pluralistic society.”

To view photos from the event, click here.

About American Jewish Committee (AJC)
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit ajc.org.

About Jewish Federation of San Diego
For nearly 90 years, Jewish Federation of San Diego has worked to ensure there will be a vibrant, caring, connected, and enduring Jewish community in San Diego, Israel, and around the world for generations to come. The nonprofit organization addresses the needs of the most vulnerable in the Jewish community; provides training and growth opportunities for future Jewish leaders; builds people-to-people connections with Jews in Israel and across the world; invests in increased security for all local Jewish institutions and much more. Federation also plays a vital convening role in our community, bringing partners and supporters to the table to tackle the most pressing Jewish issues that no one organization can address alone. For more information, visit jewishinsandiego.org.


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