How Antisemitism Hurts Both Jews and Non-Jews

February 4, 2022

With antisemitism on the rise and increasingly debated, we called on Eric K. Ward, executive director of the Western States Center and a nationally recognized expert on authoritarian movements, to learn more about the current situation. He said that as white nationalists increasingly organize an antisemitic movement as part of a conscious existential battle on behalf of the “white race,” we all have to work to deepen our knowledge around the complexities and nuances of antisemitism in order to hold together a diverse coalition that counters their movement.

“I think we are in a moment where we have to better understand antisemitism in the same way that we understand racism. But, for me, it is important to acknowledge that antisemitism is being organized consciously within the white nationalist movement. It is part of its worldview. It is not a byproduct of something else,” Ward said. “It is the way that it sees the world. It sees itself as in an existential war with the Jewish community.”

“That is why a person walked into the tree of life synagogue in Pittsburg and opened fire, right, not because they were just targeting Jews but because they saw themselves as warriors in an existential battle on behalf of the white race…We have work to do and some of the specific work we can do is deeping our knowledge around the complexities and nuances of antisemitism.”

Ward spoke about antisemitism in a Reboot Ideas conversation in December with movement pioneer, Ilyse Hogue. That Reboot Ideas conversation illuminated the cracks where white supremacy, antisemitism and misogyny jeopardize our social fabric and help shape the multiracial, inclusive democracy that we strive for. See the full conversation here.

Eric K. Ward is a nationally-recognized expert on the relationship between authoritarian movements, hate violence, and preserving inclusive democracy. He is the recipient of the 2021 Civil Courage Prize – the first American in the award’s 21-year history. In his 30+ year civil rights career, Eric has worked with community groups, government and business leaders, human rights advocates, and philanthropy as an organizer, director, program officer, consultant, and board member. Eric’s widely quoted writings and speeches are credited with key narrative shifts. He currently serves as Executive Director of Western States Center, Senior Fellow with Southern Poverty  Law Center and Race Forward, and Co-Chair for The Proteus Fund.