From the highways to the airports, Broward to fund yearlong antisemitism education program

To fight the surge of Jewish hatred in America as Israel continues its war with Hamas, Broward County commissioners have agreed to spend $250,000 on a one-year pilot education campaign to fight antisemitism.

County leaders said it’s the right time to combat hate: “With what’s going on in the world today, I think this program is needed now more than ever,” said Commissioner Mark Bogen.

The Associated Press reported the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism recorded at least 312 reports of antisemitic acts between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23 — compared to 64 recorded during the same time period in 2022. Those reports included graffiti, slurs or anonymous postings, as well as physical violence such as a woman being punched in the face in New York by an attacker who the league says said, “You are Jewish.”

Since then the federal government has opened civil rights investigations into seven schools and universities over allegations of antisemitism or Islamophobia since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

Broward’s campaign comes at the request of the American Jewish Committee, a New York-based nonprofit corporation, which said the program will ultimately be rolled out nationally. Plans include:

  • Education programs at the county library branches to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month in May 2024, which will include copies of the “Translate Hate” glossary that helps identify and expose antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols. A Spanish translation of “Translate Hate” will be made available for branches with a majority of Spanish-speakers.
  • There will be a series of antisemitism training sessions for elected officials, law enforcement, corporations, sports teams, teachers, and nonprofits to “help them recognize antisemitism, raise awareness, and address it.” Training will include recommended action items to counter anti-Jewish bias both in the workplace and in society.
  • Create a public awareness campaign that will include billboards along the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 595, Interstate 95, and Interstate 75, as well as at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, reaching residents and tourists visiting Broward County, as well as social media and radio ads.

American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch said the project will benefit the larger community. There will be a “focus on public awareness, focus on training to make sure people can really understand anti semitism and the threats that it poses to the Jewish community and the broader community; throughout history, evidence (of antisemitism is) a more significant problem in the community and society, which is why we all have to confront it.”

Commissioner Michael Udine said he’ll be watching the program to see if it should be funded again in the future. Anti-Zionism “in my mind is strict antisemitism.”

Officials said the education program will include more than Jewish hate, and will highlight white supremacy and Islamophobia. “This deals with all hate … all discrimination,” County Commissioner Nan Rich said.

And incidents continue: Last weekend, the fence outside the Michigan vacation home of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan and one of the nation’s most prominent Jewish political figures, was spray-painted with the word “Nazis.” And last week the ADL condemned maps of New York City that are circulating on social media with calls to “globalize the intifada” in “direct actions” and “operations” zones.

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at Follow on X, formerly Twitter, @LisaHuriash

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