Someone around you, whether it’s a friend, colleague, or even a stranger, says something about Jews or Judaism that makes you feel uncomfortable.

They may think it’s funny but you don’t. What are your options? What should you say or do? Is there a way to call them out without making the situation worse, without risking your reputation, your friendship, or even your job?

It is normal in these situations to feel upset, confused, or helpless, and even question yourself. While you’re not expected to single-handedly stop hate in its tracks, you do have the power to do something about it. Oftentimes people don’t know better, and when we stay silent we risk signaling that whatever just happened is OK.

All that said, be mindful of your own safety. If you don’t feel safe or believe the person confronting you is acting out of malice or unrepentant antisemitism, walk away and/or get help.

There may be a time when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

– Eli Wiesel

To help you respond to these situations in a constructive way, we’ve compiled a few suggestions below. These are by no means all-inclusive, but hopefully, they can serve as a guide.

  • Stay calm. Speak in a clear voice. Maintaining a calm volume is crucial to maintaining a rational, rather than emotional, conversation.
  • Don’t accuse. Using strong language about someone’s actions or accusing them of acting in a discriminatory manner may only put them on the defensive.
  • Listen, don’t dismiss. If you’ve been approached by someone who has recently been victimized, hear them out; get the facts.
  • Call people in, not out:
    • Explain how the situation made you feel and why it is uncomfortable and inappropriate. Some things you can say:
      • “I hope it wasn’t your intent, but that made me uncomfortable.”
      • “Would you please explain what you meant by what you just said?”
    • Ask how they would feel if the reverse was said about their religion, race or heritage.
  • Avoid using hateful language to respond. Your goal should be to show why bias is hurtful, not to even the score.
  • Listen and learn, try to understand what made the other person say or act in this way.
  • Don’t assume the person knows the real facts, or that their comment was intended to be offensive. People often repeat something they heard elsewhere without even knowing what it means.
  • Meet people where they are. Recognize that some people are just beginning to learn about the issues of hate and discrimination and they have a long way to go.
  • Educate yourself about the sources of antisemitism and the different forms that it takes so you can better respond to others. Find Resources
  • Commit to interrupting, questioning, and educating. Follow with a question like:
    • “What did you mean by that comment?” or
    • “What information are you basing that on?” or
    • “Please say more about that”
  • Use this as a teaching moment. Tell them why the comment or incident has a history and an impact.
  • Make it personal and tell your own story, share your family’s history.
  • Introduce your friends to your traditions, customs and foods.
  • If need be, call out the hate. Say something like: “your comment was very offensive.”
  • Know your rights when it comes to free speech, hate speech, and discrimination.
  • Recognize that you have the power to speak up, so be prepared with your thoughts and words.
  • Recognize that if you are in a position of power, you have the responsibility to address offensive comments and create a safe and inclusive environment.
  • Acknowledge others in the fight against all forms of hate. When someone else speaks up, stand with them, don’t shy away.
  • Don’t be alone. Identify allies, forge alliances.
  • Take pride in your own identity and heritage. Know that you represent generations that have faced and overcome enormous challenges and even hatred. That will go a long way to send a strong response.

If you see an offensive post on social media:

  • Empathize, educate and stand up – if it’s a friend who posted, use the tactics above to explain why this post or image is hurtful or wrong and have a conversation with them about the issue.
  • If you find the comment too offensive, immediately flag and report it to the platform where you see it. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have clear channels for this type of behavior and will remove hate-based content.
  • Are you being bullied online with antisemitic acts? Report the content to the platform but also tell your parent, teacher, supervisor, school counselor and your friends.
  • If the abuse continues to escalate, report it to the police.

Hate and discrimination often extend beyond one minority and should never be tolerated.

Learn What to Do