Jewish Federation Joins National Campaign Against Antisemitism

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Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia President and CEO Michael Balaban (Courtesy of Michael Balaban)

Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia President Michael Balaban already laments how much his organization and others have to spend on security in this era. It is many millions of dollars to protect against rising antisemitism. Balaban would prefer to spend that money on productive, not defensive, endeavors, like education.

But now, the local Federation is adding another layer to its defenses against antisemitism. The Philadelphia Federation is joining the national #StandUptoJewishHate campaign, started by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is Jewish.

Kraft began the initiative with a $25 million investment and the creation of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, according to a news release. The national campaign uses a blue square as a symbolic reminder to #StandUptoJewishHate, and it “features digital platforms, billboards and social media content.” A public service announcement is also airing on “The Voice” and “TODAY,” among other shows. The Philadelphia Federation announced a local partner campaign on March 27.


“People have to be aware that this is growing,” Balaban said of antisemitism. “That awareness is vital.”

Security may protect Jewish buildings. But messaging gets into people’s minds, and that is the campaign’s goal. Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism has provided Balaban’s team with the content. Now it’s on the local Federation to work its regional contacts. Balaban said all the local news affiliates — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — have agreed to air spots.

“Yesterday, I turned on Channel 6, and it aired during the news,” he added.

The Federation also is working with the city’s professional sports teams to run and display the message at games.

“You’re at the 76ers game. We want it to be right there on the scoreboard,” Balaban said.

After the stadiums and arenas, the CEO wants to see the message on billboards while he is driving on Interstate 95 and other area highways.

“We haven’t reached out to any of the billboard networks, but we will be moving on to that next, as well as the city skyline,” he said. “A few roaming billboards in the city to see if we can get the message going there as well.”

The #StandUpToJewishHate symbol distributed by the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (Courtesy of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism)

In its news release about its decision to join the campaign, the Federation listed five steps that people can take to help. They are: Post and share the blue square emoji alongside a message of support for the Jewish community. Tell other people you know about the campaign. Tell a story to your social followers about a time when you experienced antisemitism or saw someone stand up to it. Visit StandUptoJewishHate.org to learn how to identify and report antisemitism. And follow the #StandUptoJewishHate campaign on the @StandUptoJewishHate accounts on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

Antisemitic incidents increased by 36% across the country and 65% in Pennsylvania in 2022, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Philadelphia, Montgomery County and Bucks County saw 34, 24 and five incidents, respectively. A recent Wunderman Thompson SONAR survey found that 52% of U.S. adults do not see antisemitism as a big problem, but an ADL study discovered that 85% of Americans believe at least one antisemitic trope.

“If it’s not front and center in people’s minds — they very quickly forget about it and move on to the next item,” Balaban said. “Being able to reinforce it during a 76ers game or when you’re watching HGTV is critical.”

It is, of course, not just Jews who watch the Sixers and HGTV. So, the goal of the campaign is to transcend the Jewish community, according to Balaban. It is to help non-Jews see the problem as clearly as Jews do. The biggest problem, as the CEO explains, is “complacency.”

“When you’re in line at a grocery store and someone makes a comment and you hear it. When a student witnesses a friend being harassed, there’s a tendency for people not to want to get involved,” he said. “We need people to get involved. And we need to call it out when it’s hate against other groups.”

“We cannot let 2.4% of the population fight antisemitism on its own,” Balaban concluded.

“The #StandUpToJewishHate campaign is designed to raise awareness for the fight against antisemitism, specifically among non-Jewish audiences and to help all Americans understand that there is a role for each of us to play in combating a problem that is unfortunately all too prevalent in communities across the country today,” Kraft said in the news release. ■

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