Patriots Owner Funds Effort to Battle Antisemitism

Campaign will include ads intended to move people who aren't Jewish
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2023 6:20 PM CDT
Robert Kraft Funds Effort to Counter Antisemitism
Robert Kraft walks the field in January before a game in Orchard Park, New York.   (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft faced the camera during a video call, pointing to a small, sky-blue lapel pin on his blazer. The pin is the symbol of a $25 million "Stand Up to Jewish Hate" campaign launched Monday by the 81-year-old billionaire through his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, aiming to raise awareness nationwide about soaring incidents of antisemitism online and in person. The campaign will feature emotive ads to be introduced by stars of television shows such as The Voice, the Kelly Clarkson Show, and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, the AP reports.

"This little blue square represents the Jewish population in the United States–2.4%," said Kraft, who was raised in an observant Orthodox Jewish family. "But we're the victims of 55% of the hate crimes in this country." The ads are intended to tug at the heartstrings of non-Jewish Americans, said Matthew Berger, the foundation's executive director. One of the ads, set to premiere Monday, shows a non-Jewish neighbor painting over a garage door vandalized with the Nazi swastika and the words "No Jews," concluding with the message: "Hate only wins if you let it."

Another ad focuses on online hate: A Jewish teen is shown crestfallen as he is trolled after posting a video of his bar mitzvah. Soon after, he sees a Harlem choir tag him with its version of his worship song. He sings along with the choir as these words pop up on screen: "Voices of support are louder than words of hate." Berger said the foundation worked with its creative team to find scenarios "that would be specifically impactful and showcase what antisemitism looks like," per the AP. He said the ads will be featured during the NFL draft and the NBA and NHL playoffs, as well as on social media, promoted by prominent influencers.

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A report by the Anti-Defamation League released last week asserts that antisemitic incidents in the US rose 36% in 2022. The report tracked 3,697 incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault aimed at Jewish people and communities. It's the third time in five years that the annual total has been the highest ever recorded since the group began collecting data in 1979. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, based at California State University, San Bernardino, reported last week that Jews were the most targeted of all US religious groups in 2022 in 21 major cities, accounting for 78% of religious hate crimes. "The rise of antisemitism, to me, is the real breakdown of what this society stands on," Kraft said. "In my lifetime, I have never seen the way things are right now with this hatred against Jews."

(More antisemitism stories.)

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