If you don’t like what you see, maybe it’s time to change the view.
Specifically, we all see rising anti-Semitism and this has me wondering about our view of the rainbow. You know: the rainbow. It’s everywhere. It’s on college campuses, made into flags and posters and maps of the United States and just about everything else.
It’s even in a version of the IBM logo as their symbol of the company’s “diversity leadership.”
It’s great that the rainbows have taken over. Diversity is good. But some rainbows are missing something, quite frankly. They’re missing us.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise, yet some efforts at visually promoting diversity are leaving us out. In a way, we’ve become the invisible minority, the blue and white stripes that aren’t there.
Oh, I know, we’re not invisible in the American experience. We’re teachers, businesspeople, nurses, lawyers, comedians and more. We contribute a lot to society, which is something to take pride in.
But we actually do need help. Please. We need for America to be reminded that Jews, too, are in need of the rainbow’s protection, because the achievements of some are not going to protect us from the hate of bigots. That was made horrifyingly clear on Oct. 27, 2018, the day of the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh. And at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego on April 27, 2019, when Lori Kaye, 60, was killed by an invading 19-year-old gunman while protecting her rabbi.
No doubt, respect and even love for diversity is good. Do pass it on.
There’s a truly lovely Apple video at the company’s “diversity page” – boasting that it shows 68 employees and “who we are.” But if it has any good visual representations of Judaism, I’m not seeing it. I see nobody holding a Star of David from around their neck or lighting a menorah, no hands cupping a handful of dreidels and nobody with payos or a yarmulke.
I’m not raising this to attack Apple. This is meant as a nudge, a reminder. What I’m asking for – not for me but for our Jewish children and grandchildren – and for our country, is a cultural shift that more often inserts Judaism into these kinds of spaces.
There are those who are doing it right, of course. A beautiful 2014 Coca Cola Super Bowl commercial features men wearing yarmulkes.
Wisconsin has seen an alarming rise in anti-Semitic incidents, according to the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. It is the fifth consecutive year of increased incidents, with a 20% increase from 2017. Though that’s Wisconsin data, it’s not a problem exclusive to Wisconsin; all signs indicate anti-Semitism is on the rise everywhere.
I’m of the opinion that the legacy of World War II diminished anti-Semitism over time and kept it at bay. Americans knew their fathers and grandfathers were heroes, because their sacrifices defeated the Nazis and liberated concentration camps. It’s an amazing, personal story for America’s families. I’ll never forget the non-Jewish American veteran I once interviewed while working as a reporter at The Journal Times in Racine. He recalled the camps and what he saw as he entered, his heart clearly broken, his pride in what he’d been a part of truly fierce.
But for a new generation, this is just history, not grandpa. As memory slips away, so does that bar to anti-Semitism.
Maybe we can help return anti-Semitism to its lonely, rarified 1990s place in American culture, when it was seemingly more taboo. Maybe we can do so through the drumbeat of a thousand visual messages – in movies, on websites, in commercials, in Twitter feeds and everywhere the media touches. Maybe we can get there by joining our nation’s collective image of the rainbow.
We’re part of the beautiful diversity of America, too. Let’s not be shy to ask for some inclusion in efforts aimed at, well, inclusion.
Rob Golub is editor of the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.