Words to Action: Empowering Students to Address Anti-Semitism is an interactive education program for middle, high school and college students designed to empower and equip them with constructive and effective responses to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias, including:
- Stereotypes and prejudice
- Hate speech
- Anti-Israel incidents
The Need for this Program
Words to Action (originally known as Confronting Anti-Semitism) was created in the 1980s in response to a comprehensive survey of Jewish youth in New England conducted by the ADL. The findings indicated that middle and high school youth were regularly experiencing anti-Semitic comments, taunts, harassment and graffiti in the halls and classrooms of their schools and in their neighborhoods and communities. Rather than standing up to this prejudice, many youth remained silent, both in the face of oppression and later, when they returned to their homes and families. Today, as this type of anti-Semitism continues, many college students also face another form of anti-Semitism, that which is fueled by anti-Israel sentiment.
The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism
ADL’s most recent Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents indicates that almost 80 anti-Semitic incidents happen every month around the country, many of them involving children, teenagers and young adults. Incidents range from verbal and written taunts promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes to threats of violence and physical assaults. Many more incidents go unreported.
Recent ADL-commissioned focus groups of high school students confirm that anti-Semitism continues to be a part of the lives of Jewish youth today. Participants report hearing jokes and stereotypical remarks about Jews’ appearance, customs and behaviors; seeing swastikas on school desks, bathroom walls and locker doors; and pennies being thrown at Jewish students. Anti-Semitic cyberhate also invades the once safe haven of students’ homes.
On college campuses, escalating BDS campaigns ignite highly politicized debates that isolate supporters of Israel, generate hostile environments and single out Jewish students. High profile academics, charismatic speakers, and influential student leaders have presented the Israeli-Palestinian situation in a one-sided manner, blaming the conflict solely on Israel and largely ignoring Palestinian terrorism and violence. Sometimes, this blatantly anti-Israel rhetoric crosses the line into anti-Semitism.
Words to Action helps Jewish youth, young adults, family members, teachers and community members address the changing face of anti-Semitism by:
- increasing their understanding and awareness of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in their lives;
- countering anti-Semitic stereotypes and anti-Israel myths with accurate information;
- providing resources and skills to strategically respond to anti-Semitism in any form, from insensitive or biased comments to hate-motivated incidents.