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Why Are Jewish Leaders Failing the Community?

Avi Goldwasser, Nov. 2021


Lessons from Failure of Jewish Leadership in WW II


  • Did not fully understand the threat.

  • Failed to protect Jewish lives, or warn and guide the community

  • Delusional and cowardly

    • Reluctant to face the ugly reality

    • Assumed ”the civilized world would prevent genocide”


  • Did not fully understand the threat

  • Suppressed dissent (Bergson Group, Jabotinsky)

  • Failed to influence U.S. policy and actions​

    • Bombing of rail lines to Auschwitz,

    • Ocean liner "St. Louis" turned away

  • Moral cowardice (fear of "dual loyalty", rising Jew-hatred)


(inconvenient truths)

Failed Leadership


The State of the American Jewish Community

  • Increased Anxiety

  • Increased Security Concerns

  • Jews Are:

    • MURDERED in Pittsburgh, San Diego and Jersey City​

    • STABBED in Boston

    • HARASSED, BULLIED and BEATEN in NYC, LA and universities

    • DEFAMED by the New York Times, CNN, etc.

    • MALIGNED in the U.S. Congress

    • DEMONIZED on campus and in politics

  • Politics is organized against the Jewish community


Why Jewish Leadership Failed

weak understanding and conflicting feelings

  • Failed to understand emerging threats

  • Failed to understand the nature of political power

  • Failed to understand human nature – lessons of history (power and morality)

  • Conflicting loyalties (universalism vs. Jewish particularism)

  • Aversion to conflict (accommodation not victory)


Importance of Leadership

  • Humans are tribal

  • Hate, envy and blaming others are natural to most humans (will not be eliminated)

  • Tribes provide protection to members as they compete and collaborate

  • Politics is mostly about group/tribal competition for power

  • Good leadership is key to survival and success of groups


ADL & Federations' False Priorities

Confront Discrimination and Secure Justice for All

How do these benefit the Jewish Community?


Why Is Effective Jewish Leadership Critical Today?

  • Jews are under ideological and physical assaults from multiple sources

  • Many Jews are in denial (life is good, comfortable)

  • Jewish leadership, despite some well intentioned efforts, has failed to stop the assaults


Failure to Understand the Threat

  • Focusing on Nazi and far right threats while minimizing the significant threats from Progressives and radical Muslims.

  • Failing to internalize the left's betrayal of the Jews.

  • Failing to recognize the impact of mass migration of immigrants steeped in Jew-hatred.

  • Ignoring the failure of Jewish education that is resulting in ill-informed narcissistic Jewish youth, who instead seek purpose and meaning as Social Justice Warriors.

  • Failing to understand the  misalignment between the goals of progressive politics and Jewish communal welfare.


We Want to Believe

Work Makes You Free

Campus Fantasy


Jewish Leadership Is Conflicted

  • Utopian, progressive, and universalist world view makes protecting Jews too parochial/tribal.

  • Expanded their mission from fighting Jew-hatred to fighting all forms of hatred with same vigor and passion.

  • Assumes Jews are secure and have unlimited resources.

  • Politically partisan, ignore threats from progressives and their allies.

  • Compromising the needs of Jewish community for the sake of progressive politics.

  • Not held accountable  anointed by wealthy donors.


Leadership's False Assumptions

  • Fighting racism, promoting social justice will reduce Jew-hatred.

  • Belief in group reciprocity, ignored group self-interest.

  • Sensitivity training and Holocaust education are effective.

  • Jews have unlimited resources to protect all minorities, fight all injustices.

  • Jewish community can benefit from influx of immigrants from Jew-hating cultures (“welcome the stranger”).


Influx of Jew-Hating Immigrants


What Jewish Leadership Must Do

  • Declare a state of emergency and mobilize the community

  • Develop leaders willing to fight back

  • Prioritize Jewish communal resources

  • Build alliances based on mutual interests and honest reciprocity

  • Educate the public about the nature of Jew-hatred, deconstruct poisonous academic social theories that demonize Jews

  • Experiment with alternative solutions to find what is effective

  • Organize grassroot activists whose voices have been ignored, suppressed and canceled by failing Jewish ruling elites who control our institutions


Ignoring the Changing Hierarchy of American Values

Enlightenment Based Values

(Traditional Judeo-Christian)

  • Sanctity of Life

  • Freedom

  • Truth

  • Fairness

  • Equality of Opportunity

Social Justice Based Values


  • Egalitarianism (equality of results)

  • Blind Support for the Underdog (power differential)

  • Cult of Victimhood

  • End to Suffering (regardless of consequences)

  • Moral Relativism (narrative trumps the truth)


Ominous Parallels Shaping of Culture and Morals

German Nazi Culture

  • Anti-Jewish thought leadership in churches

  • Harmful intellectual theories (Marxism, Darwinism)  

  • Bigotry institutionalized in schools and culture 

  • Politics of envy,  scapegoating and search for racial purity

  • Justified violence against Jews

Political Correctness

  • Anti-Jewish thought leadership in universities

  • Harmful intellectual theories (Egalitarianism, Intersectionality, White Privilege)

  • Anti-Israel teaching in the media & high schools

  • Politics of envy (equity) and search for utopia and moral purity

  • Jew hatred justified in the name of social justice.


Why Is This Continuing to Happen?

“Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact …measure of the injustice and wrong …which will be imposed on them.”

–– Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and writer


Strategic Failures

  • Losing the battle on campus

  • Losing the battle in the media

  • Losing the battle in K-12 education

  • Losing the battle for hearts and minds of Jewish youth (high rate of defection)

  • Weakening the community by political polarization

  • Losing the culture war, often on the wrong side

while focusing on feel-good fables


Challenge Jewish Leadership

  • Initiate a (new) dialogue with your local leaders

    • Whats your plan to protect the Jewish community?​

    • How does this initiative/program/policy benefit the Jewish community?

    • What is the criteria for deciding which issues deserve precious Jewish resources?

  • Identify up to three changes major Jewish organizations need to make to better protect the Jewish community

Ascertaining the nature of your local leadership and issues facing the Jewish community


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