Anti-Defamation League holding its annual Never Is Now summit to fight antisemitism

The event comes as antisemitic episodes hit record high since ADL began recording data in the 1970s

With nearly 4,000 attendees set to pack the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on Wednesday and Thursday for the Anti-Defamation League’s Never Is Now summit — the largest gathering worldwide on antisemitism and hate — the group’s signature event comes at a particularly critical and fraught time. 

According to the ADL’s preliminary data, released in January, there were a total of 3,291 antisemitic  incidents between Oct. 7 and Jan. 7, a 361% increase over the year prior, putting 2023 on track to be the worst year for anti-Jewish hate since ADL started tracking this data in the late 1970s.  

The summit will kick-off with the group’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, delivering the keynote “State of Hatespeech, excerpts of which were shared in advance exclusively with eJewishPhilanthropy

“Today, in our Oct. 8 world, American Jews – and Americans of all kinds – are hearing with their own ears and seeing with their own eyes the hollow claim of those who purport to be anti-Zionists but not antisemites,” Greenblatt is expected to say.  “That’s rich. It’s like saying in 1964, I don’t hate Black Americans, but I just don’t think we need to pass the Civil Rights Act or end Jim Crow… the time for complacency is over. We can’t assume American Jewish life will continue to be a comfortable life – unless we do something now, unless we transform ourselves from observers to activists, from onlookers to advocates… the time has come to say: The harassment and the attacks must stop. Explaining away your antisemitism will no longer be tolerated. Refusing to prosecute the laws or to enforce the policies of your institution when the perpetrators are targeting Jews must cease. The twisting of language, the moral cowardice, and the blind eye toward antisemitism must end now.”

Throughout the two-day gathering, dozens of high-profile speakers — global experts, advocates and leaders in the fight against antisemitism — will take the stage and lead panels, including Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism; Marc Rowan; CEO of Apollo Management and UJA-Federation of New York chair; and Rabbi David Wolpe, the ADL’s inaugural rabbinic fellow. 

For the first time, the summit will also feature college and high school tracks geared toward students, who have been facing considerable antisemitic incidents in recent months. The ADL has recorded a total of 746 antisemitic incidents on university campuses from Oct. 7 through Feb. 20, compared to just 87 incidents during the same time frame a year ago.

Several announcements will be unveiled at the gathering. 

On Wednesday, Julie Sweet, the chair and CEO of Accenture, will receive the ADL’s highest honor, the Courage Against Hate Award. Sweet has been outspoken about a zero-tolerance hate speech policy at the IT company. She guided the corporation to sign ADL’s Workplace Pledge to Fight Antisemitism. The award will be presented by a previous recipient, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla. 

Jared Kushner will be presented the ADL Abraham Accords Champion Award for his work negotiating the Abraham Accords, which the organization has credited with helping in the efforts to secure the release of hostages in Gaza. Kushner’s selection as a recipient of the award has raised eyebrows among more progressive Jewish groups due to his ties to former President Donald Trump.

During Thursday’s closing session, Chabad on Campus International is expected to announce an inaugural partnership with the ADL, eJP has learned.  Through the collaboration, ADL will provide support and guidance to Chabad directors nationwide, ensuring they have the tools and knowledge to address antisemitism effectively and foster inclusive environments, according to the groups. 

“This joint initiative with ADL represents a significant step forward in our efforts to boost a safe Jewish life and combat antisemitism on college campuses, and we are proud to join forces with ADL in the fight against hatred, discrimination and prejudice,” Rabbi Avi Weinstein, president and COO of CCI, said in a statement. “Together, we will make a difference in the lives of Jewish students and in the broader campus community.”

Ahead of the conference, ADL’s National Leadership gathered for programming on Monday and Tuesday. 

Virtual tickets for the summit are also available.