JewBelong billboards in San Antonio call for end of antisemitism – San Antonio Express-News

Bright pink billboards denouncing antisemitism and hatred are up in three locations across San Antonio.

JewBelong, a New Jersey-based nonprofit dedicated to education and community building, has posted billboards at three of the busiest intersections in the city: 281 and Josephine, 410 and Wurzbach, and Highway 90 at West Military Drive. So far, at least six cities have received billboards, but San Antonio is the first with a sign in Spanish. 

“It’s not like San Antonio is the worst place in the country, but it is a place where there is activity that is not conducive to peace and allowing people to live side by side and be who they are,” JewBelong Co-Founder Archie Gottesman said.

The billboards are part of a national campaign aimed at spreading awareness of the increase in antisemitism in the U.S., Gottesman said. Billboards previously were posted in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Florida. Messages have included things like “I promise to love being Jewish 10x more than anyone hates me for it,” “3,500 years of antisemitism doesn’t make it right” and “We’re just 75 years since the gas chambers. So no, a billboard calling out Jew hate isn’t an overreaction.” 

The Spanish-language billboard in San Antonio shares the message “We’re just 75 years since the gas chambers. So no, a billboard calling out Jew hate isn’t an overreaction,” in addition to an English-language version. An additional sign is up in San Antonio that reads “can a billboard end antisemitism? No. But you’re not a billboard.” 

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A billboard put up in San Antonio aims to end Jewish hate and spread awareness of rising antisemitism. 

A billboard put up in San Antonio aims to end Jewish hate and spread awareness of rising antisemitism. 

JewBelong

The campaign is not targeted at people who are Jewish, Gottesman said, but instead, the 98 percent of people in the U.S. who are not.

“This campaign is mostly for people who are not Jewish, who are not aware there is something called antisemitism,” Gottesman said. “We get great responses from people who we consider allies. We get our share of hate, too, but that’s not what we’re focused on.” 

The billboards will be up only for the next three weeks unless the nonprofit raises the necessary funds to keep them up longer. Those interested in donating can find a link on JewBelong’s website

There are more than 5.8 million Jewish adults in the U.S., or 2.4 percent of the adult population, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center report

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there was a 34 percent increase in antisemitic incidents nationwide in 2021, with 2,717 reported incidents last year, an all-time high since information started being tracked in the 1970s. Texas ranks top five in reported antisemitic incidents, with 112 such occurrences last year. 

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Most of these incidents involved harassment, with assaults nearly tripling from 2020 (88 in 2021, 33 in 2020). 

Gottesman said the rise in antisemitism is a precursor for general mistrust and hate for different groups. 

“America has been a really good place for the Jewish community for the last 30 years or so, but in the last two or three its gotten really dangerous,” Gottesman said. “Some Jewish people are even having conversations about where they would go if they left the U.S., which is a very scary conversation.” 

Antisemitism is seen even among celebrities, as Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets was suspended by the NBA for sharing a link to an antisemitic documentary that denied the Holocaust happened and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics shared a video of a protest supporting Irving that featured antisemitic chants from a group classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

shepard.price@express-news.net 

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