Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, visited USC Thursday night to discuss the nation’s standing on equality in the Jewish community.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded in 1913 and is the oldest anti-hate organization in America. According to Greenblatt, ADL’s purpose is to “stop defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all.”
University President Michael Amiridis attened the lecture and said these discussions open up a platform for breeding different voices and ideas in the community.
“The scholars, authors, thinkers and visionaries by participating in these lectures provide insights into how we can live, learn, engage and act to improve our understanding of each other and to build a more thoughtful and compassionate society,” Amiridis said.
Through its anti-hate education programs, Greenblatt said ADL has made progress in protecting the Jewish community. Although much progress has been made, anti-Semitic attitudes and incidents have recently increased.
In 2021, the ADL reported the highest number of anti-Semitic acts in 45 years, tripling the record number in 2015. Greenblatt said a possible reason for this inflation could be the increased usage of social media and digital technology.
“Social media is a super-spreader of hate,” Greenblatt said.
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Joel H. Samuels said he has tried to stay away from social media because of the negativity that it facilitates, even though he said it prevents him from remaining in the loop with his students.
In addition to committing hate crimes, Greenblatt said anti-Semitic extremists are running for political positions, potentially preventing protection laws from being passed.
Greenblatt said that South Carolina is one of three states that doesn’t have a law against hate crimes. Amidst the hate, Greenblatt said that even thought law enforcement could be doing better, he they should be able to look to law enforcement for assistance and protection.
“The law enforcement is our trusted, invaluable partner in protecting this community and other minorities,” Greenblatt said.
Although law enforcement is trained to intervene in hate crime situations, Greenblatt said they don't always report them as they should.In America, 85% of law enforcement agencies either report zero hate crimes or don’t report any at all, according to Greenblatt.
“We need to move that number dramatically,” Greenblatt said.
The ADL believes in something called ‘council culture' rather than 'cancel culture.' This way of thinking holds the mentality that if a person has done something bad in the past, they can learn from it and become a better person.
“My Jewish faith has this idea called ‘teshuvah,' which is this notion of repentance, which is this acknowledgment that we’re all human,” Greenblatt said.
Greenblatt said he has hope that the American people and future generations will become less anti-Semitic. He said that one thing everyone should do is say something when they see something.
“Whether it’s finding a nasty, horrendous tweet, or tagging an ugly post on Facebook or engaging someone when they make a racist joke ... All of us have the ability to interrupt tolernance when it happens,” Greenblatt said.
Greenblatt also pointed to the younger generation as the face of change for more equality in America.
“I also have a lot of faith in the younger generation. They are more tolerant, they are more worldly and they are more adaptive than my generation,” Greenblatt said.