As we know all too well, antisemitism is on the rise, especially in our high schools and colleges. At UCSD, a dorm bathroom was vandalized with a swastika made from fecal matter and the Menorah was vandalized at SDSU Chabad House.
What fuels antisemitism? According to StandWithUs (SWU) CEO Roz Rothstein, “Ignorance is one of the greatest threats to the Jewish people, because it makes people vulnerable to lies and misinformation.” This leads to anger at Israel and resentment against anyone who support Israel. Anti-Israel groups promote falsehoods and taint Zionism. At SWU, we feel strongly that anti-Zionism is the modern manifestation of antisemitism.
StandWithUs Is Here to Help
SWU was founded in 2001 during the terrorist war against Israel, by Roz (CEO) and Jerry (COO) Rothstein together with President Esther Renzer and other community leaders.
Recognizing the lack of available solid information coupled with the promotion of misinformation, the founders of StandWithUs realized that a key to winning the war for hearts and minds, is education. I am excited to carry on this vital work in our region.
In 2006, SWU opened the Israel office and created the prestigious Israel Fellowship on Israeli universities. In 2007, SWU created the Emerson Fellowship on North American campuses, and in 2012, the Kenneth Leventhal High School Internship was born. Each year, these programs select, train and empower hundreds of student leaders at hundreds of schools throughout North America as well as Israel, the UK, Brazil and South Africa to educate their peers about Israel and combat antisemitism. I am proud to say that I was a SWU Israel Fellow after my army service in Israel, while I was studying at the IDC in Herzilya!
StandWithUs also has departments and resources ready to help students, parents, teachers and community members respond to antisemitic actions and to bring education to schools, synagogues and institutions. The StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department empowers people through a legal response and the Holocaust Education Center (HEC) brings interactive programs and curriculums to schools and communities. We offer a middle school curriculum, IsraelLINK, to enhance the connection between young teens and Israel. We also offer print and online materials on a variety of topics and in different languages.
The StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism (CCA) addresses the continued rise of antisemitism through education and responsive action, including new strategies through legal means. Antisemitic incidents can be reported by going to https://www.standuptohatred.com/report Getting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism adopted by universities and other institutions is a significant agenda of the CCA.
StandWithUs Responds to Antisemitic Incidents in San Diego
This year, SWU SD responded to antisemitic incidents in the community and schools. Students who faced challenges and worked with StandWithUs were infused with confidence knowing that SWU supported them as they dealt with the challenges they were facing.
Leventhal Intern Noa from Urban Discovery School, was the only Jewish student at her school. She was targeted with finger gun points and “Heil Hitler” salutes at her school. With the support of SWU, she opened communication with the principal. It resulted in Noa and the StandWithUs Southern California HS manager bringing a program about antisemitism to the entire school. They also provided the administration with the tools needed to help make Jewish students like Noa feel protected. We are delighted to honor Noa at the upcoming Gala.
When a student at Bonita Vista High School renamed a document, “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Kenneth Leventhal Intern, Anna, requested that the school administration condemn antisemitism and hold a program to teach the students about antisemitism in the 21st century. They issued a statement strongly condemning the incident. The administration also invited Anna to present to the 10th grade (300 students) on Holocaust denial, how to identify antisemitism and how to combat this age-old hate.
Shani, SWU Emerson Fellow and board member of UCSD Tritons for Israel, together with Hillel, organized a dynamic Israel week, involving hundreds of students in a campus-wide rally to show solidarity with Israel and the Jewish community.
Tali, who is a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow and also serves as a Board member of SDSU Students Supporting Israel (SSI), joined with SDSU Hillel for a campus-wide “Fighting Antisemitism” mega event with more than one thousand student and community attendees.
Integral to combating antisemitism is instilling and reinforcing people’s love for and connection to Israel and the Jewish people. SWU San Diego offers programs that accomplish this in so many different ways, including working closely to support the work of the House of Israel in Balboa Park, where thousands of international tourists visit each weekend. SWU sponsors a community educator every week, SWU materials, and security to make sure that our local efforts to educate are safe from vandalism and/or intimidation. Yael Steinberg reminds us all that volunteers are always welcome and anyone interested should contact HOI directly.
Take Action, Contact Us
In the battle against antisemitism and anti-Israel propaganda, we must unite with unwavering determination to educate broadly and break down the walls of ignorance. Together, we will build a future rooted in pride, understanding and respect.
I am so proud to join StandWithUs (SWU) as the Executive Director of the Southwest region. This new position encompasses San Diego County, Rancho Mirage, Orange County, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. San Diego will be the hub. Together with my associate director Yael Steinberg, I look forward to building and strengthening our community to meet StandWithUs’ mission of supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism.
Many of you already know me from my positions at FIDF (Friends of the IDF) and IAC (Israel-American Council). I look forward to seeing my friends and creating new relationships at my first StandWithUs San Diego “Leaders of Tomorrow” gala which will be held on October 15 at the Marriott Marquis SD Marina. Our keynote speaker is retired British army commander, Colonel Richard Kemp, a tireless defender of Israel who deeply appreciates the work of SWU.
We are delighted to be giving a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award to long-time board chairman Emeritus Micha Danzig. As in previous years, StandWithUs student leaders will share their inspiring stories at our memorable and uplifting event. For more information, visit www.standwithus.com/sdgala2023 or email email@example.com.
Oz Laniado Executive is the Director of the StandWithUs Southwest region. He held positions on the Board of Directors of a NASDAQ company and served as the San Diego regional director for the Israeli American Council (the IAC) and the FIDF. He served in the IDF and was a StandWithUs Israel Fellow while attending the IDC in Herzilyia. He is married with three children.