Billionaire Robert Kraft, Who Grew Up Frum, Launches Massive Campaign To Fight Antisemitism

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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.

“This little blue square represents the Jewish population in the United States – 2.4%,” said Kraft, who was raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, 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 their 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.” 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.

The campaign’s launch follows last week’s release of a report by the Anti-Defamation League asserting that antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose 36% in 2022. The report tracked 3,697 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault aimed at Jewish people and communities last year. 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 U.S. religious groups in 2022 in 21 major cities, accounting for 78% of religious hate crimes.

Brian Levin, the center’s director, said he is concerned about brazen, public expressions of antisemitism, and the proliferation of antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories online. A campaign against antisemitism which solicits the support of non-Jewish people can help create awareness, he said.

“It is so important to show that antisemitism is un-American,” Levin said. “If we can show non-Jews as allies, that could be powerful.”

In October, Kraft’s foundation aired a 30-second ad during a Patriots-Jets game urging the public to speak out against antisemitism. That ad came after antisemitic comments made by the music mogul formerly known as Kanye West and basketball star Kyrie Irving’s apparent support for an antisemitic film.

“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.”

The mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018, in which 11 people were killed in the nation’s deadliest antisemitic attack, was a catalytic moment in his life, said Kraft. Two months after the shooting, he attended a service at the synagogue, the day before his team was to play the Steelers.

Kraft established the foundation a year later, after he received the $1 million Genesis Prize, awarded to Jews who have achieved significant professional success and are committed to Jewish values. The annual award is given by the Genesis Foundation in partnership with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

In recent months, Kraft has become a powerful voice against antisemitism. The billionaire says he treasures the spiritual values he inherited from his parents, especially his father who skipped American pastimes to learn Torah.

“I was privileged to receive that upbringing,” he said. “It gave me a spiritual core no amount of money can buy.”

Kraft hopes the ad campaign will help “educate and empower all Americans to stand up against Jewish hate” and the blue square he wears on his lapel will become “a unifying symbol of solidarity” in that quest.

“I hope this campaign calls out hate against all communities – anyone who is experiencing hate,” he said. “My hope is this will become an effort that builds bridges with all Americans.”

(AP)

14 COMMENTS

  1. “But we’re the victims of 55% of the hate crimes in this country.”

    That is not true. Jews were 58% of the victims of religiously-motivated hate crimes in 2020, but only 9% of all hate crimes. There were more crimes committed against people for being black, white, or gay than for being Jewish.

  2. PS: Even that’s a misnomer, because MOST crimes committed against people for being Jewish are NOT religiously motivated at all. The attackers are generally not religious themselves, and don’t give a **** about religion, theirs or ours. Remember that antisemitism is explicitly NON-religious; it is based on race and NOT religion. That’s what the term “antisemitism” was invented for. So these crimes should be classed as “racially motivated”, not “religiously motivated”, and therefore in the same category as attacks on people for being black or for being white.

  3. Wickedly ironic the video has no images of “ultra orthodox “ victims people who are most susceptible to anti-semitism.
    Is he really fighting anti-semitism? Or maybe, the world’s “false” perception of himself and his ilk.

  4. “The billionaire says he treasures the spiritual values he inherited from his parents, especially his father who skipped American pastimes to learn Torah.”

    Does he do the same?

    Let’s work on strengthening Yiddishkeit, meriting the fulfillment of the posuk וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה’ נקרא עליך ויראו ממך, rather than relying on media campaigns.

  5. @Lemayseh
    You’re sounding very clever. Why are you trying to take away credit for this man’s actions to combat antisemitism? You might be correct that the best shmirah would be strengthening Yiddishkeit, so why don’t you go out and do mass kiruv operations? That might be more productive than giving mussar to him on YWN news.

  6. “That might be more productive than giving mussar to [Kraft] on YWN news…”

    We have some regulars who will never miss an opportunity to give musar for the sake of giving musar. This seems to be a favorite pastime when a wealthy (non-observant) yid does something good and newsworthy and rather than expressing gratitude, there are the usual comments about why isn’t he more frum.

  7. Contrast this with another Jewish billionaire, George Soros, who is probably the one person most responsible for increasing antisemitism in the US with his political actions.

  8. DontMindMe, I don’t think there’s any evidence that Soros’s evil deeds are responsible for increasing antisemitism. Most people who criticize his influence are either not aware that he happens to be a Jew, or are aware but don’t identify him that way, and don’t care about it. The only people I have ever come across who associate his deeds with the fact that he happens to be a Jew are those who are already antisemites, and are thus hypersensitive to who is a Jew, and predisposed to smear all Jews whenever one Jew does something wrong. Most people’s opposition to him is not only not motivated by antisemitism, as the Democrat propagandists here on YWN claim, but also doesn’t lead to antisemitism.