The Ritz Herald
David Harris, CEO of American Jewish Committee. © AJC

AJC Hosts Training With National Association of Secretaries of State

AJC has conducted similar training sessions for key federal, state, and local officials, including the FBI, National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), and United States Conference of Mayors (USCM)

Published on August 26, 2021

Led by American Jewish Committee (AJC), Secretaries of State from across the country participated yesterday in a virtual training on combating misinformation and disinformation through the lens of antisemitism.

The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) is the nation’s oldest, nonpartisan professional organization for public officials. Approximately 40 NASS members serve as their state’s Chief Election Official and as such are continually concerned about the adverse impact misinformation and disinformation have on American democracy.

Secretaries of State participating in today’s training learned more about:

  • The range of antisemitic conspiracies, tropes, and symbols, and how antisemitism can be used to undermine elections
  • How antisemitic conspiracy theories influence prejudice against other communities
  • Concrete steps that can be taken in each state to protect Jews, promote pluralism, and build coalitions across communities to counter false narratives

Melanie Maron Pell, AJC Chief Field Operations Officer; Holly Huffnagle, AJC U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism; Julie Rayman, AJC Senior Director of Policy and Political Affairs; and Rebecca Klein, AJC Director of National Outreach, led the session.

Rayman led the discussion of mis/disinformation and conspiracy theories, while Huffnagle presented AJC resources, including the State of Antisemitism in America in 2020 report and Translate Hate, to demonstrate how antisemitism can undermine election integrity. Klein then shared ways NASS participants can address these threats and tools they may have at their disposal to counter mis/disinformation.

AJC’s report, released in October 2020 and based on parallel surveys of the American Jewish and general populations, revealed that 88% of Jews consider antisemitism a problem in the U.S., 37% had been victims of antisemitism over the past five years and 31% had taken measures to conceal their Jewishness in public.

In the first-ever survey of the general U.S. population on antisemitism, AJC found a stunning lack of awareness of antisemitism. Nearly half of all Americans said they had either never heard the term “antisemitism” (21%) or are familiar with the word but not sure what it means (25%).

Translate Hate is AJC’s innovative digital resource aimed at enabling Americans of all backgrounds to recognize and expose antisemitic language. Its glossary of commonly used antisemitic terms and conspiracy theories will help further the work of Secretaries of State in identifying and responding to mis/disinformation during elections.

For more than 115 years, AJC, the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, has raised awareness about defining antisemitism; identifying hate incidents targeting Jews; and providing guidance to national, state, and local authorities on bringing to justice perpetrators of hate crimes.

Associate Writer