Resources & Media

Standing Up to Hate in Powerful New Ways

November Newsletter
November 30, 2015
Bend the Arc

The past month has been historic for Bend the Arc. We demonstrated our ability to stand up against hate and reached a far broader nationwide audience than we ever have before.

We began November by launching our first major TV ad campaign with a spot denouncing the rise in anti-immigrant bigotry in the immigration debate. We closed out the month by calling out Donald Trump for his fascistic policy proposals with a statement that reverberated around the Internet and was quoted by Rachel Maddow on national TV.

Tens of thousands of Jewish activists came together with Bend the Arc to declare loud and clear this month that Jewish progressives are here and are not going to accept hateful, dangerous rhetoric in the 2016 election cycle and beyond.

The TV ad, launched by Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice on November 2nd on MSNBC, was entitled “Heard it Before.” It compared the vitriolic rhetoric being directed at the immigrant community this year with the prejudice and hatred Jewish immigrants faced when they arrived a century ago.

The ad aired in select markets on MSNBC and CNN for a week, as well as ABC, CBS and NBC during Sunday political talk shows, reaching 1.3 million television viewers. Influential progressives like Donna Brazile, Markos Moulitsas and Peter Beinart lauded the ad and encouraged their social media followers to view it. David Nir, the political editor at Daily Kos, reacted to the ad by saying “’Yes!’ I thought. ‘Damnit, yes!’ As a Jew and an American, this is exactly how I feel.” Our accompanying digital campaign, through Facebook and email, reached 300,000 people and in just one week 12,000 people signed a petition saying American Jews stand against anti-immigrant hatred.

With the “Heard it Before” ad, Bend the Arc denounced the ugly tone of the national political debate. But later in the month, the debate entered truly dangerous territory and Bend the Arc Jewish Action called out candidates by name. One name that needed it the most was Donald Trump. Trump’s announcement that he would register Muslims in a government database reminded many Americans, and Jews in particular, of some of the bleakest chapters in modern history. In today’s hyper-charged discourse, comparisons to the Third Reich and the Shoah are often bandied about carelessly. But Trump made this comparison frighteningly appropriate, and we made sure he understood that American Jews would not stand for it.

Bend the Arc Jewish Action’s response to these comments was strong, swift and far-reaching. We labeled the GOP frontrunner’s suggestion “as terrifying as it is abhorrent” and our strong moral condemnation and clear link to the Holocaust touched a nerve. The statement quickly went viral and was shared more than 15,000 times on Facebook and more than 400 times on Twitter, ultimately reaching more than 1.7 million people.

Rachel Maddow quoted the statement at the top of her show on November 19th. It is the single largest audience for our message ever, and showed the power of moral clarity and courage during these dangerous times of racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic rhetoric.

Bend the Arc’s activism in 2016 will touch on far more issues than the immigration debate. We will continue our work on worker’s rights, voting rights and other challenges facing our country. But this month will be remembered as one when many Americans learned about our movement, the work we do, and how willing we are to fight to make this country a more just place for all.