Celebrating 125 years of the Forward while watching as #StandUpToJewishHate combats antisemitism

Commentary

A convergence I had to write about and, I hope, you will want to read…and forward.

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the $25 million initiative, #StandUpToJewishHate, launched last month to battle antisemitism, using a blue square as its main feature.

Created by the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism—founded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in 2019—the blue square emoji is being introduced as a symbol of solidarity with the Jewish people as part of the #StandUpToJewishHate campaign.

The campaign “is designed to raise awareness for the fight against antisemitism, specifically among non-Jewish audiences, and to help all Americans understand that there is a role for each of us to play in combating a problem that is unfortunately all too prevalent in communities across the country today,” said Kraft.

The blue square is appearing on television shows, digital billboards and social-media sites. It is sized at 2.4% of the screen or other surfaces to symbolize Jews making up 2.4% of the population yet being victims of 55% of religiously motivated hate crimes.

Here’s one of the TV spots that introduced the campaign.

And here’s one of the campaign’s most powerful spots.

I couldn’t help thinking about this campaign when I received my daily email this morning from the Foward. Founded in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily, the Forward soon became a national paper, the most widely read Jewish newspaper anywhere. By the 1920s its circulation outstripped The New York Times. It chronicled the events that affected a population of immigrants eager to earn their place in American life, and published regional editions around the country before any other newspaper. The English Forward was launched as a weekly in 1990.

In today’s message, the Forward celebrated their 125th anniversary by publishing the article, Introducing the Forward 125: The American Jews who shaped our world.

“Some are household names: pop-culture icons and Nobel Prize winners, Supreme Court justices and superhero athletes. Others were obscure individuals caught up in events that shaped society: the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and the Tree of Life massacre, firefighters who perished on 9/11, writers and producers blacklisted by Hollywood.

“Their stories, and their impact, endure. The founders of Black Lives Matter and ACT UP. The creator of the first Yiddish cookbook in the U.S. and the inventor of modern jeans. Poets and publishers, actors and activists, rabbis and rabble-rousers, purveyors of kosher hot dogs and frozen bagels, Fanny Brice and the woman who played her on the big screen.”

As the article says, “Any such list, inevitably, leaves out a lot of fascinating and influential characters. We aimed to represent a wide range of endeavors: movies and music, religion and politics, philanthropy and finance, science and tech, and comedy — lots of comedy. We also tried to highlight women overlooked by history, people of color whose Jewish heritage may not be widely known, and warriors for justice whose legacies were far-reaching even if their names are forgotten.”

They even ask readers, “Let us know what you think of our list, or send the name and a brief description of someone you would have liked to see on it, to editorial@forward.com, subject line: Forward 125. We may publish a selection.

I know I have many additions. I’d be interested in yours.

I’ve attached a PDF of the article (it’s long) for you to download and read at your leisure.

(If the PDF doesn’t open when you click on “introducing-the-forward-125” or the “Download” button, let me know and I’ll try to get you the article another way. Or you might also try the link to the article…although you might have to subscribe to the Forward to open in. https://forward.com/culture/529218/forward-125-american-jews-history-headlines-ab-cahan-1897/? utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=saturdayedition_6672456

I’ve also included images from the story at the end of this post.

I hope, whether you’re Jewish or not, you agree how important the convergence of #StandUpToJewishHate and the Forward’s celebration of “The American Jews who shaped our world” is. As you read the article, as you think about who else might be on the list, as you lament the fact that virulent American antisemitism made it necessary to fund a campaign like #StandUpToJewishHate, consider this:

Where would America be without its Jewish people, its Jewish heritage, and the Jewish contribution to virtually every aspect of American life?

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

6 thoughts on “Celebrating 125 years of the Forward while watching as #StandUpToJewishHate combats antisemitism

  1. The sad part of this commentary, hatred is still being fought after all these years. And instead of diminishing, there seems to be more hatred in the world today than ever before. Not just hatred of Jews, but hatred of “Other”! Will we ever learn tlo love all Others? We will have to, but that time seems a long way off. And humans may destroy themselves BEFORE we ever get there.
    Yet, it is not natural to hate. We have to be taught to hate. Teaching hate seems to be something humans are really good at…

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    1. In the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “South Pacific,” when Nellie (played by Mary Martin) discovers that her love interest, Emile (Enzio Pinza) has children of mixed-race lineage, she decides she cannot marry him. Lt. Cable, unable to overcome his own prejudices and marry Liat, a Pacific Islander woman he loves, bitterly comments on the inbred racism he and Nellie were raised to internalize. This was immortalized in the song, sung by Cable, “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught. Some partial lyrics:

      You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
      You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
      It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear—
      You’ve got to be carefully taught!

      You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
      Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
      And people whose skin is a different shade—
      You’ve got to be carefully taught.

      You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
      Before you are six or seven or eight,
      To hate all the people your relatives hate—
      You’ve got to be carefully taught!

      This was 1949. The song caused such a backlash that it almost derailed the entire production. From Wikipedia:

      “After the show’s debut, it faced legislative challenges regarding its decency and supposed Communist agenda. While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing entertainment containing “an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow.” One legislator said that “a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life.”Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work resolutely. James Michener, upon whose stories South Pacific was based, recalled, “The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in.”

      1949 to 2023––74 years. And yet another example of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

      Stay tuned. More on this writer’s inbred racism was raised to internalize in an upcoming post.

      Like

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