International effort

ADL brings together seven large Jewish communities for new antisemitism task force

J7 is meant to allow Jewish leaders to share best practices, learn from each other to combat hatred

Umbrella organizations representing seven of the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel joined together this week in a new coalition to combat antisemitism: J7, the Large Communities’ Task Force Against Antisemitism.

The participating countries are: the United States, represented by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League; the United Kingdom, represented by the Board of Deputies of British Jews; France, represented by the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF); Germany, represented by the Central Council of Jews in Germany; Canada, represented by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs; Argentina, represented by the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas; and Australia, represented by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

These countries have, in recent years, seen spikes in antisemitic attacks and rhetoric, according to Tel Aviv University’s Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, which tracks global antisemitism in an annual report.

The ADL spearheaded the creation of the task force following regular, informal discussions with representatives of these communities about antisemitism and ways to counter it, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told eJewishPhilanthropy on Monday night, before the J7 was announced.

“For years, the ADL has worked with our counterparts, agencies and Jewish communities around the world,” Greenblatt said. “Increasingly… we see in liberal democracies all over the Earth intensifying antisemitism, expanding polarization, deepening division. It felt like as we were talking that there were these shared experiences, a similar socio-political context.”

Greenblatt said the seven countries involved are all Western-style democracies and are all facing similar challenges. He said other countries may join in the future. Greenblatt said the funding for J7 will come from the ADL’s existing budget.

“We’re all having similar experiences on the streets, online, in the media, and in public life broadly,” Greenblatt said. “As we’re all confronted with the normalization of anti-Zionism and the intensification of antisemitism, how can we learn from one another, and then, hopefully, each of us be more effective in the fight against racism?”

Greenblatt said that J7 is meant to emulate the G7, the intergovernmental forum consisting of the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

“By working together, we strengthen our ability to tackle antisemitism wherever it emerges,” Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said in a statement.

The ADL chief said the goal of the task force is to “share best practices, see what works, and also to coordinate responses more effectively.”

This will be done through top-level meetings between the heads of the representative groups, as well as through “a number of working groups comprised of subject matter experts from each community,” the ADL said in a statement.

These subjects include: policy and advocacy, tech policy, security, extremism, and education against antisemitism.

Some of these discussions will take place in person, others online. The first major gathering of the J7 will be held at the ADL’s 2024 “Never is Now Summit” on March 4-7, 2024.

Conference of Presidents CEO William Daroff said the J7 was needed in light of the new ways that antisemitism is spreading throughout the world. 

“Social media enables antisemitic hate to cross borders, where it spreads faster than ever before. It is therefore imperative for the largest diaspora Jewish communities to engage in regular conversation to develop strategies to combat the pernicious spread of antisemitism,” Daroff said in a statement. “Including our Conference of Presidents member organizations that are engaged in combatting antisemitism will bring great synergies to this effort. From Hillel International with its front-row seat on American college campuses to the American Jewish Committee with its deep engagement across the globe, we know that what impacts one community, impacts us all.”

Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, similarly noted the role of the internet in spreading antisemitism globally. “Antisemitic networks, tactics and developments don’t stop at national borders,” he said. “Together we will approach globally operating institutions or companies and unite our efforts in combatting antisemitism.”

Greenblatt stressed that the goal of this initiative – as an effort led by the ADL – is “strategically and specifically” focused on combating antisemitism, not on other aspects of Jewish life.

“There are other great groups that bring together communities [for more positive aspects of Jewish life],” Greenblatt said. “This is focused exclusively and entirely on fighting antisemitism. That’s it.”