Rachel Vecht

Why can’t supporters of BLM also support the Jews?

We are not dehumanising anyone, other than evil terrorists

October 26, 2023 15:26

I have been immersed in the world of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging since founding my business in 2001. The essence of everything we provide is about ensuring employees feel psychologically safe at work, sharing lived experiences to promote awareness, understanding and empathy and helping organisations nurture a culture of inclusion and support for all.

For over two decades, we have addressed a vast range of sensitive topics for global audiences across many sectors: eg pregnancy loss, disability, single parents, sexuality and racism.

Organisations want to ensure that everyone is able to “show up as their whole selves at work”. Yet, ironically, I have never felt comfortable mentioning that I am Jewish.

Why? Especially when it is such a fundamental part of my identity and everyday life.

As a granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, there is always an intrinsic fear.

The fear of opening myself up to negativity or exposing my four children to any danger, along with the fear that people may not want to work with me if they knew.

But being in Israel with my children on October 7 changed everything.

To be truly authentic, how could I talk about anything other than my experience and feelings as a Jew? That meant “coming out” to all my corporate clients and tens of thousands of newsletter subscribers.

After 9/11, George Floyd, Sarah Everard and Ukraine, people were incredibly vocal and utterly unequivocal in their condemnation.

Yet, when it comes to unspeakable acts of terror in Israel, individuals and organisations debate whether to even acknowledge that something happened, let alone outwardly condemn it as wrong and indefensible.

Where are those D&I experts, liberals, progressive, woke, left humanitarians and supposed gurus of cultural intelligence now?  With our “white privilege”, Jews are clearly not regarded as a minority group.

But the deafening silence of our “friends” and colleagues at the barbaric murder and kidnapping of innocent civilians is  terrifying.

Jewish hearts also break for innocent Palestinians. We are not dehumanising anyone, other than evil terrorists.

Organisations which did express horror at the terror attacks saw their statements used as a platform for incendiary discourse at a time when many Jewish colleagues and clients felt shocked, isolated and deeply fearful.

We are working to provide support and guidance for managers and facilitate courageous conversations at work. Here are some practical tips:

- The focus should be on people and humanity, not the inevitable whataboutery or justifications.

- Recognise that someone with a strong opinion on this conflict is unlikely to change their mind.

- Respectful, open communication is always key.

- Don’t assume what others will know.

- If you feel unseen, unheard or threatened, speak to your manager.

- Prioritise your physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

- Document any antisemitic incidents and report them, both internally and externally.

- Identify allies who can speak from a more neutral place.

As Jews, we feel a deep sense of existential loneliness and abandonment. Echoing 1930s Germany, we fear people will turn on us instantly.

Our people have been butchered. Are we who have been left behind not entitled to even a brief period of mourning?

We’ve all supported the likes of #blm and #metoo.

Why can’t decent people accept terrorism is #notok and neither are the Jewish people?

Rachel Vecht is the  founder and CEO of Educating Matters. She is running forums for HRs, managers and D&I leads, together with Michal Oshman and Maya Gur

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October 26, 2023 15:26

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