Chattanooga’s Hadassah chapter asked me to address antisemitism with Michael Dzik, Exec. Director of the Jewish Federation and Chattanooga’s Mayor Andy Berke. Here is my Nov. 15, 2020 presentation.
Antisemitism goes back long before the term wascoined by a German historian in 1781. Violent attacks and expulsions of Jewish communities span centuries. The Babylonians exiled Jews from Zion, the earliest use of the term, into Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. The Romans forced Jews into Europe. Blamed for causing the Black Plague, Jews were driven out of England, France, Germany, and Italy. They fled to Eastern Europe but experienced violent pogroms and isolation into The Pale. Throughout it all, the elements of antisemitism rarely changed.
For example, the Blood Libel dates as far back as the Temple in Jerusalem with claims that Jews sacrificed Greeks. It reappeared in the Middle Ages when an English cult announced that Passover Seder wine was actually Christian blood. Centuries later, a mob destroyed a synagogue in Damascus for this blood libel. As recently as 1928 in New York, Jews were accused of kidnapping and ritually killing a young girl.
The American Diversity Report (ADR), an award-winning digital multimedia platform, offered a virtual Town Hall featuring a distinguished panel of experts to discuss the future of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in education and employment amid COVID-19. We thank the many donors who made this event and ADR’s next year possible. CLICK to see List of ADR DONORS
“For 15 years, ADR’s dozens of writers from around the U.S. and the world have provided Inspiration, Instruction, and Innovation expertise. We recognize that COVID-19 requires an innovative approach to Diversity, Equity Inclusion,” said Deborah Levine, ADR’s Editor-in-Chief and award-winning author of 15 books.
Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report, and her15 books have been honored with the 2020 International BOOKS FOR PEACE award. The award was born from a project of a group of associations with the aim of enhancing the books (through a literary competition), featuring culture, people, sport, art, dealing with the topics of Peace in the round, not only between peoples, but of peoples: such as gender-based violence, bullying, racial and religious discrimination, social and cultural integration.
Today, in it’s 4th year, the international alliances have expanded to include:
IODHR: International Organization for Democracy and Human Rights – Norway
INSPAD – Institute of Peace and Development – Pakistan and European Union
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – European Union
AFRICAN NGOs DEVELOPMENT NETWORK – Africa
GLOBAL CAMPAIGN TO END CHILD MARRIAGE
MY BODY IS MY BODY – United Kingdom and USA
FAAVM – Federal association for the Advancement of Visible Minorities – Canada
IHRMWORLD – International Human Rights Movement – United Kingdom
NHRF – NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMAN FEDERATION – India
FUNVIC – FUNDACAO UNIVERSIDARIA VIDA CRISTA – Brazil
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION
MUNDIAL DE EDUCACION PARLIAMENT
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR DIPLOMATIC STUDIES- Norway
NAIFA MARUF FOUNDATION – Bangladesh
SOCIETY FOR GENDER EQUALITY, EDUCATIONAL, ADVANCEMENT & STRUGGLES – Nigeria
When my family moved to America from British Bermuda, I was still in elementary school, having completed first form, the equivalent of first grade, at the Bermuda High School (BHS) for Girls. Uniform and uniformed, I marched in step with the other girls, just as my mother had done through her entire schooling at BHS. Yes, I did stand out as the only Jewish girl in the school, or anywhere on the island. But generations of my family were well known on the island, so the singularity was tolerable. Inserted into a New York City suburb, I was delighted to find that this particular oddity was completely irrelevant. For better or worse, I still stuck out and a confidence crisis set in.
Some have called our “Me & Us First” politics as nationalism but I prefer to apply the label ‘tribalism’. In this COVID-19 environment, racial lines, regional preferences, current events and heavy political advertising, are not shaping public opinion as much as the identity of a specific community and the resonance of a leader to that community. Communities are built on religious and ethnic values, family preferences, housing patterns, and health habits. Their political choices have always been shaped by those cultural traits. With the economic fallout and the growing disparities in jobs and education, politics will become a complex mix of leadership styles that symbolize communities along with the body language, word choice, and facial expressions that resonate specific communities. Policy positions and biographical details will be less relevant as they are filtered through the lens of each group.
CLICK on video to hear Deborah Levine’s Chattanooga presentation that initiated the ongoing virtual Black-Jewish Dialogue that is now both national, with participants from California to Washington DC , and international, including Bermuda, Canada, and Hungary. Hear the video and see excerpts of the transcript.
Scroll down to REGISTER to join us and receive the Zoom link.
TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS: It’s a true challenge to talk about issues involving African Americans and Jews in these turbulent times. The murder of George Floyd and COVID-19 have put a spotlight not just on monuments and law enforcement, but also on festering issues of economic, social and healthcare inequities. The issues echo the 1960s civil rights era but with the internet, terminology, quotes, memes and comments are constantly morphing. And spreading. Two weeks ago, a Black-Jewish woman messaged me, worried about how the words of Louis Farrakhan were being blending with those of local White Supremacists. (See Farrakhan) Will the words of our nonviolent sixties icons, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr., successfully counteract this trend? I hope that celebrating the life of the civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis will re-emphasize the impact of non-violent activism. (See John Lewis)
Originally written for Generation 42 Global Reformers July 4th Prayer Service
As we gather together virtually for the July 4th celebration, my first thought is to ask for the blessing of our Creator who has placed us all on this precious planet. Our faith leads us to a shared hope for a future where we can harmonize, not homogenize, at the intersection of race, ethnicity, religion, generation, and gender represented in this country. That hope was not a conscious one growing up in British Bermuda as the only Jewish little girl on the island. But I’m honored to now be recognized as a Diversity & Inclusion Trailblazer by Forbes Magazine. And I’m both honored and astounded to be an Award-winning author of 15 books on cultural diversity and the founder of the American Diversity Report where I’ve served as editor for 15 years.
I’m astounded because my early dream was to be a ballerina, forever in pink ballet slippers. But God had other plans for me. Perhaps that’s why, even as a youngster, I was surrounded by diverse cultures and appreciated their artistic expressions. Continue reading July 4th Prayer – by Deborah Levine→
I got a call from my cousin Lenny from a New York hospital telling me that they’d just admitted his elderly mother into the emergency room. He was upset because the hospital restricted his time with his mother as part of COVID-19 protocols.But “Upset” didn’t cover his reaction to the receptionist not wearing a mask and neither a few of the medical staff. He made his objections loud and clear and took pictures on his phone. At that point, security was called and he got tossed out.Picturing this kerfuffle over my aunt’s prone body, I’m taking the war over masks personally.
When I see headlines about North Dakota’s Republican governor Doug Burgum being on “brink of tears as he decries ‘mask shaming’, I’m horrified that the governor had to beg but encouraged that he had the courage to do so. It takes guts for a Republican governor to antagonize the anti-maskers when Biden says yes and Trump says no way. The battle’s begun in a presidential campaign fight to the political death.
Why I created the ADR and
Why we need your support
When asked why I created the American Diversity Report(ADR), I’m tempted to answer that diversity is in my DNA. I was brought up as the only Jewish little girl on the 24 square miles of British Bermuda in a family that immigrated from Russian territories. When we moved to New York, I was bullied for my colonial British accent and found comfort in the music, dance, and folktales of diverse cultures. I played the violin, performed ballet, and wrote stories and poems to express my sense of exclusion. When illness prevented all other expression, reading became my world and writing became my voice.
Two decades ago, I had to resign my job as an executive director of a Jewish Federation because I’d almost died on a mission to Uzbekistan, diversity again surfaced as my passion. But this time, I wanted to leave a legacy that would change the world. I created the Women’s Council on Diversity along with a community Global Leadership Course and a Youth Multicultural video contest. But of all my creations, the American Diversity Report is closest to my heart.
It’s been two years since the shooting and subsequent riots in Ferguson. One year after that event, I wrote about having the dubious honor of witnessing three generations of protests related to race, inequality and injustice. In the 1960s, protest marches were televised nationally, inspiring many of us. Yes, some protests became violent riots, but some gave rise to long-term institutions promoting racial equality. Those of us deeply invested in the movement shared a vision and were committed to making a difference through advocacy, education, politics, and, as I did, urban planning. However, after the shootings of unarmed African American men in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, the killing of police officers in Dallas, the numerous street protests, and the ongoing threats, I am less hopeful than I was coming out of the sixties.