We Need to Talk About Antisemitism by Sacha Brown and Marc Karimzadeh
“Antisemitism is a deadly hate crime.”
This is Marc Jacobs, speaking out against antisemitism in an October Instagram post, one of the few major American designers to acknowledge the alarming rise in attacks against Jews across America.
The data is indeed alarming. The Jewish community makes up for less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, yet, according to an FBI report, 63 percent of religious hate crimes target Jews.
Antisemitism has been on a steady rise in recent years, but the last two years in particular have seen record spikes, from physical harm to propaganda and vitriol spewed on social media platforms – from public figures including government representatives on both the far left and far right ends of the political spectrum – and organized groups such as the white supremacist Proud Boys and Goyim Defense League as well as extreme sects of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.
The CFDA has been closely monitoring the surge in antisemitism. We always stand up for communities facing bias and hate, and the CFDA stands with the Jewish community.
We won’t turn a blind eye to bigotry and want to contribute to the work being done to bring attention to antisemitism and ways to combat it.
In an industry revered for championing important social causes, the silence among our talents has been deafening, especially to those of us vulnerable to antisemitism, so we reached out to a selection of our designers and other fashion personalities to talk about antisemitism, and ways fashion can help fight it.
“I’m saddened and extremely alarmed by the dramatic rise in antisemitism and hate sentiment in general. It is of utmost importance that people feel accepted and welcomed regardless of their faith, race, sex, gender, or identity. Unfortunately, when we as a society make steps forward to eradicate hate, we often seem to slide backwards. So we have to make the choice every day to actively combat bigotry and hatred and show others that when you reject prejudice and fear, you invite understanding.”
– Michael Kors
WE HAVE TO MAKE THE CHOICE EVERY DAY TO ACTIVELY COMBAT BIGOTRY AND HATRED AND SHOW OTHERS THAT WHEN YOU REJECT PREJUDICE AND FEAR, YOU INVITE UNDERSTANDING.
“The antisemitism that the Jewish community faces has existed for thousands of years and continues today. This is unacceptable. The horrors of the Holocaust occurred less than 100 years ago, and somehow it feels like most of the world has already forgotten. It is not only our responsibility as Jews to stand up against antisemitism; we need all groups to do their part to stand up for us as well. The fact remains that one of the highest rate of hate crimes in the country is against Jews. We must all do our part to embrace tolerance instead of fear, education in place of ignorance, and love instead of hate.”
– Donna Karan
IT IS NOT ONLY OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS JEWS TO STAND UP AGAINST ANTISEMITISM; WE NEED ALL GROUPS TO DO THEIR PART TO STAND UP FOR US AS WELL.
“As a brand, we have been supporting equal rights for almost 40 years and working to highlight the importance of inclusion and acceptance. It is shocking to me that in 2023, when so much progress has been made in certain areas, we are seeing a surge in antisemitism. I have always believed that ‘being different is what we have in common,’ and I encourage others to look at everyone through that lens as well. The CFDA is amazing at bringing the fashion community together to speak up about social issues, and I am hopeful that together we can stand for strength and light in the face of so much hate and darkness.”
– Kenneth Cole
IT IS SHOCKING TO ME THAT IN 2023, WHEN SO MUCH PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN CERTAIN AREAS, WE ARE SEEING A SURGE IN ANTISEMITISM.
“As someone who lived through the Anschluss in the 1930s during the slaughter of millions of Jews, the specter is strong enough for me to recognize the similarities today and the horrifying possibilities of it happening again. The fashion business has to consciously promote inclusivity. Our industry needs to keep its arms open to ALL. What the Jewish people have historically experienced is representative of a breeding ground for all the hate that is targeting disenfranchised people. We must continually educate and appreciate the wonder of diversity.”
– Stan Herman
WHAT THE JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE HISTORICALLY EXPERIENCED IS REPRESENTATIVE OF A BREEDING GROUND FOR ALL THE HATE THAT IS TARGETING DISENFRANCHISED PEOPLE.
“I think the rise in hate crimes against Jews is utterly despicable but not surprising because the white supremacist movement over the last few years has felt empowered by Trump and other right-wing extremists. Jan 6th could not have spelled it out clearer. I’ve been Involved in U.S. politics for over 30 years and these times we are living in are the worst of the worst. Sadly, I have no idea what can be done to help other than just continue to speak out against hate of all kinds and vote for candidates who will do the same. The fashion industry has a big platform and can maybe help by educating young people about the rise in antisemitism and making them aware that it’s a real issue that needs attention.”
– Lisa Perry
THE FASHION INDUSTRY HAS A BIG PLATFORM AND CAN MAYBE HELP BY EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT THE RISE IN ANTISEMITISM AND MAKING THEM AWARE THAT IT’S A REAL ISSUE THAT NEEDS ATTENTION.
“In a time where diversity and inclusivity are pushed everywhere, it’s disheartening to see so much hate towards a people simply because they are Jewish. We have seen this movie played out through history – children and adults alike being physically and verbally attacked because they are Jewish. We are seeing it in our own backyard on a weekly basis. New York leads the country in antisemitic incidents, and it accounts for 58 percent of all religious hate crimes in the U.S. You rarely hear of a Jew being violent or committing hate crimes so to see antisemitism being normalized is very troubling.
The fashion industry is very opinionated and rightfully so, but rarely do we see people with a platform speaking out against antisemitism. There is absolutely no place for hate of any kind towards people because of their race or religion.
Stop giving people who spew hate a platform including everyone who thinks they’re an expert on the centuries-old conflict in the Middle East. Support your Jewish neighbors, friends, and colleagues.
Many people don’t realize the impact Jews have had on the fashion industry. Some of the biggest legends, not only in fashion but across all industries, are Jewish.
– Ariel and Shimon Ovadia
IN A TIME WHERE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVITY ARE PUSHED EVERYWHERE, IT’S DISHEARTENING TO SEE SO MUCH HATE TOWARDS A PEOPLE SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE JEWISH.
“It is obviously frightening – for myself, my community, and society at large. I hope we can take this moment to teach and learn about Jewish history and American Jewish experiences as they were and are, not as the hateful conspiracies portray them. I’d like to know, ’What’s been going through non-Jewish people’s minds?’ [Fashion can help]– the same way I would hope it fights any other hatred: by having people in the industry call it out as unacceptable and choose their partners accordingly.”
– Nikki Kule
I HOPE WE CAN TAKE THIS MOMENT TO TEACH AND LEARN ABOUT JEWISH HISTORY AND AMERICAN JEWISH EXPERIENCES AS THEY WERE AND ARE, NOT AS THE HATEFUL CONSPIRACIES PORTRAY THEM.
“Although it is devastating, this also strengthens our resolve to combat antisemitism and hate, and stand up for marginalized communities everywhere. We cannot let the antisemites, racists, and bigots win by accepting their extremism as part of the norm. It can’t be brushed aside. We must all push back on this rising tide of hate while we still have the opportunity to do so, and use our platforms is a great place to start. It’s important that those with large platforms – whether it be industry leaders, models, influencers, brands – speak out and call out hate whenever or wherever it arises. This includes anti-Black racism, anti-LGBTQ+ hate, and antisemitism. With the amount of reach some have via their social media platforms, they can do an unbelievable and invaluable amount of good with a mere post. Also, fashion companies and brands should make a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) workshops and training for their employees; including modules that deal with antisemitism. Many companies have already adopted DEI-focused training for their employees but some have neglected to include antisemitism as an area of focus. With incidents of antisemitic hate at all-time highs, it’s a no-brainer for companies to institute this sort of training to do their part in the fight against hate.”
– Hannah Bronfman, Activist, Angel Investor, Author, Founder of HBFIT & On-Camera Personality
IT’S IMPORTANT THAT THOSE WITH LARGE PLATFORMS – WHETHER IT BE INDUSTRY LEADERS, MODELS, INFLUENCERS, BRANDS – SPEAK OUT AND CALL OUT HATE WHENEVER OR WHEREVER IT ARISES.
“It affects me hugely daily. As a mom, as a boss, as a Jewish grandchild of a Holocaust survivor. It makes me sick to my stomach and quite frankly, scared for the Jewish people’s safety. I keep thinking about my grandmother Sidia and what she would have said in these times, and how critical it is that we keep telling our story and fighting for our community. I’m not naive—I know antisemitism has been present always, but it feels as though the recent bouts are amplified via social media to new heights, and certain public figures give motivation and misinformation to those who may not have had any urge to act antisemitic in this way. This frustrates me endlessly, yet I know the Jewish people are strong and come together in force when under threat. I am very proud to be Jewish and to run a brand inspired by my grandmother, a true survivor.
The fashion industry has a timely opportunity to step up and be allies to its Jewish community. Firstly, by opening and normalizing the dialogue among teams, discussing people’s fears, realities, and showing that we are all human and bonded at the end of the day. Amplifying Jewish stories is critical, like the ones of Holocaust survivors, so our stories can’t get stifled and forgotten.
The fashion industry should choose very carefully whom they partner with and who will be the voice and face of their brands, ceasing relationships with those who are partaking in the hate. Antisemitism often creeps into the everyday. Figureheads and brands may not realize that criticism of Jewish people, culture, or Israel directly correlates to hate and violence against Jews overall. I think more education on antisemitism and lack of hesitation in calling it out is a big opportunity in the industry.”
– Erin Kleinberg, CEO and Co-Founder, Metier Creative, Founder and CEO, Sidia Brand
THE FASHION INDUSTRY SHOULD CHOOSE VERY CAREFULLY WHOM THEY PARTNER WITH AND WHO WILL BE THE VOICE AND FACE OF THEIR BRANDS, CEASING RELATIONSHIPS WITH THOSE WHO ARE PARTAKING IN THE HATE.
“The surge in antisemitism and its recent mainstreaming in America is gravely alarming. The fashion industry, which is probably among the most diverse of any, cannot tolerate hate in any form. It must clearly, quickly, and unequivocally confront antisemitism whenever and from whomever, it comes.” –
– Lizzie Tisch, Founder of the LTD by Lizzie Tisch fashion and art curation consultancy
THE FASHION INDUSTRY, WHICH IS PROBABLY AMONG THE MOST DIVERSE OF ANY, CANNOT TOLERATE HATE IN ANY FORM.
“As the granddaughter of four Holocaust survivors, I was raised to be proudly Jewish. What’s happening today is beyond alarming, and people who lead this harmful rhetoric have come out of the shadows in a way that is bold and dangerous. Antisemitism is now mainstream, and for the sake of everyone who lost ancestors at the hands of the Nazis, we can’t just sit by and hope someone else solves this for us. Watching this happen and doing nothing is unacceptable. The fashion industry has always been a guiding force in taking on important causes and issues. We have all held hands to support everything from HIV/AIDS, Breast Cancer, Planned Parenthood, Diversity, and Equity Initiatives; the list goes on. Fighting antisemitism needs our collective muscle and attention. The industry comprises many Jewish thought-leaders, and historically, Jews have been at the forefront of fashion since the 1800s. We must be proud of our heritage and see our colleagues and peers stand up for us the same way we have always stood up for them. The world needs to see our industry’s solidarity against the cancer of antisemitism because it is cancer.”
– Aliza Licht, Founder of LEAVE YOUR MARK & Author of ON BRAND
THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE OUR INDUSTRY’S SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE CANCER OF ANTISEMITISM BECAUSE IT IS CANCER.
“The recent surge in antisemitism has been extremely terrifying. As the great-grandchild of Holocaust survivors and as a mom of three teenagers, I can’t help but imagine my kids enduring the horrors of that time; it may seem radically different but the Nazi era didn’t start with rounding up and gassing Jews; it began with stereotyping, cruel comic strips, and hateful rhetoric — just like we are seeing today.
The fashion industry can have a ZERO tolerance policy toward any designer who spews hate, whether sober, drunk, or insane (cough, cough: Kanye). I actually believe Galliano’s lame excuse that he was not sober is worse: In Vino Veritas. As with Mel Gibson or any other idiot igniting the fires of antisemitism, words have violent consequences and they need to have the oxygen of PR switched immediately OFF.”
– Jill Kargman, Writer & Actress
THE FASHION INDUSTRY CAN HAVE A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY TOWARD ANY DESIGNER WHO SPEWS HATE, WHETHER SOBER, DRUNK, OR INSANE.
“I am a proud Jew and I openly wear a Jewish star every day. The rise in antisemitism – including physical harassment and killing of Jews – means every time I go out as a Jew into the world, I have to wonder whether someone will target me as a result. But no matter what comes our way, Jews have always survived, and I’ll never stop being proud of who I am.
Unfortunately, I think the fashion industry has been a bit silent on the topic which is disheartening when they’ve been so vocal about every other social issue. I think for starters, show solidarity with your Jewish peers and friends. If you see antisemitism, call it out. Include Jews in fashion campaigns and initiatives. Throughout the last 10 years I’ve seen fashion houses being called out for not being inclusive, and today, it’s more inclusive than ever yet still lacks Jews. I’m not saying include Jews in every single campaign, but I would like to see more and feel represented. Create initiatives that represent all minorities that face bigotry and hate crimes and through fashion we can unite all minorities to fight against the common enemy which is hate.”
– Moti Ankari, Content Creator
SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH YOUR JEWISH PEERS AND FRIENDS. IF YOU SEE ANTISEMITISM, CALL IT OUT.
“The fashion industry has an ethical and social responsibility to show the world how fashion can be a powerful tool in combating antisemitism. As a brand whose product does not discriminate, we champion diversity, inclusion and equality. We believe that fashion can be an agent of positive change in the world.”
– Jennifer Fisher
THE FASHION INDUSTRY HAS AN ETHICAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO SHOW THE WORLD HOW FASHION CAN BE A POWERFUL TOOL IN COMBATING ANTISEMITISM.
CFDA HAS ZERO TOLERANCE FOR ANTISEMITISM.
PLEASE HELP US AMPLIFY THE URGENCY IN FIGHTING IT.