Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi of the S&P Sephardi community, appeared on the most recent episode of Podcast Against Antisemitism where he spoke about his concerns surrounding antisemitism both here and abroad, and the importance of education on Jewish history.
During the podcast interview, he said that antisemitism “in the modern setting is almost always tied to Israel” which is “an easy target” when it comes to young people on social media.
“One does not condemn an entire people because of the [the Israeli government’s] behaviours,” he stated.
According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel” is an example of antisemitism.
Speaking on the importance of having Jewish pride as a means of tackling antisemitism, the Senior Rabbi said: “The more proud one is, of who one is, the taller one stands, the more confident one is to be who one is in the world. That makes a huge difference.”
He continued: “If you’re strong and proud of who you are, you speak up, and you represent. That is something we have certainly seen.
“I’m very concerned about university students experiencing that…it is important for young people to not feel that every time they go outside they need to hide this aspect of their identity…[Jewish pride] will further encourage young people and generations coming to be able to represent the Jewish people and to speak in favour and strength and to be able to have absolutely zero tolerance for any kind of antisemitism.”
When asked about the differences between antisemitism in the United States and the United Kingdom, he noted that he “feels it more here” in London, noting that “the antisemitism here has a very anti-Zionistic colour.”
However, he stated there is a “tremendous rise in antisemitism” in the United States, which has given antisemites “license to be more vocal and present, and violent”.
Some such antisemitic incidents in recent years included white supremacist shooting in synagogues, a Black Israelite shooting, the Islamist hostage incident in Colleyville, Texas, and persistent attacks on Hasidic Jews.
Rabbi Dweck lamented that “it’s concerning to me in general” in areas that used to be “tranquil for Jewish people”.
“Violence, hate speech against Jews is becoming more acceptable. There is a stronger feeling of allowance for people to do this and not have repercussions, and this really worries me,” he said.
Rabbi Dweck additionally spoke about his own podcast, ‘Humans Being’ where he interviews, in his words, “thinkers, innovators, and creators from across society on the meaning and value of what they do”.
He commented how he “wanted to speak to people in every area from a background of Jewish thought” and reaffirmed his believe that “Jewish thought, and Torah, is a framework of thought”.
Leaving a message to the Jewish community for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Rabbi Dweck said that “although we may all feel a bit unstable, our people have survived for thousands of years, we will thrive and continue to do so.”
Podcast Against Antisemitism, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, talks to a different guest about antisemitism each week. It streams every Thursday and is available through all major podcast apps and YouTube. You can also subscribe to have new episodes sent straight to your inbox.