Cable television

Cable TV can help fight anti-Semitism

Last month, the American Jewish Committee released the largest-ever survey of American Jews and the general American public on the issue of anti-Semitism in America. The results of this research were simply alarming. The AJC found that 9 in 10 American Jews believe anti-Semitism is spreading in the United States and 8 in 10 believe anti-Semitism has increased over the past five years. One in four American Jews (24%) has experienced anti-Semitism in the past year.

These findings are not unique to AJC research. A June survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 60% of American Jews said they had witnessed behavior or comments they personally considered anti-Semitic following the Israel-Hamas conflict this spring. Some 40% of Jews surveyed said they were “most concerned about their personal safety” and 77% said they were at least somewhat concerned about anti-Semitism in America.

Of course, anti-Semitism is not a problem unique to 2021. In 2019, Jews experienced the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents since the Anti-Defamation League began tracking in 1979. In the same year, the The FBI’s hate crime statistics report found that although Jews comprise approximately 2.4% of the US population, Jews are the victims of 60.2% of anti-religious hate crimes in the country.

In a rising sea of ​​prejudice against Jews, there is a ray of hope. The AJC found that members of the general American public who reported knowing someone who is Jewish were consistently more aware of antisemitism, more familiar with its various forms, and more likely to see it as a problem that needs to be addressed. . Put simply, exposure and education about Jews and Jewish culture can serve as an antidote to the scourge of hatred and bigotry.

With this in mind, Jewish organizations across the country have appealed to major cable and satellite television providers to expand access to Jewish-themed English-language programming on their channel listings.

We were driven by Diversity and Inclusion mission statements such as Comcast, which reads: “We empower diverse content creators and have a long-standing commitment to using our storytelling platforms to deliver programming representative of audiences. we serve,” and Verizon Communications, which states, “Diversity and inclusion are key to our success. Celebrating diversity in all areas, including but not limited to race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran/military status, and age, we are a stronger company and culture.

In all, more than 50 major Jewish organizations, state legislators from 18 states and five members of the US Congress sent letters to the largest cable and satellite television operators, asking them to honor their commitments to serve their various public and to add more Jews. themed programming in English to their offerings.

Unfortunately, the response from operators has been disappointing. Cable operators that carry ghetto Jewish-themed television networks often either smack those channels into the more expensive tiers or only offer those networks in cities that are perceived to have the largest Jewish populations, eliminating the possibility for millions of people discover Jewish-themed content on dial-up cable. Many cable operators consider the availability of Jewish content on the Internet to be sufficient. Forcing viewers to search for content on the Internet does nothing to combat anti-Semitism.

Packaging Jewish programming into a widely accessible and affordable bundle of cables enables this content to be discovered by both Jews and non-Jews, who in turn become more aware of Jewish life and culture. Jewish experience.

The indifference the pay-TV industry has shown toward the Jewish community is disappointing, but not unexpected. In fact, the AJC found that 46% of Jews and 38% of the general public think anti-Semitism is taken less seriously than other forms of hate and bigotry.

It would be unacceptable for major video service providers to ignore a significant increase in racial or LGBTQ intolerance, but the same cannot be said of the well-documented increase in anti-Semitism. This tacit acceptance of anti-Semitism must change, and America’s top media companies can and must lead the way.

Sacha Roytman Dratwa is the executive director of the Movement Against Antisemitism. Russell F. Robinson is CEO of the Jewish National Fund-USA.