NAACP President Derrick Johnson in address to WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps: ‘Don’t let outside influence break us apart’

19 Nov 2020

In remarks to members of the World Jewish Congress’ Jewish Diplomatic Corps on Sunday NAACP President Derrick Johnson urged Jews and African Americans not to “allow outside influences or disagreements break us apart, because as easy as one of our communities have been subject to attack in the past, we can find ourselves in that same place.”  

Johnson issued the comments during the opening of the United Against Racism Global Conference, a ten-day virtual training program organized for the Jewish Diplomatic Corps, aimed at building alliances to combat racism and antisemitism alongside other faith and minority communities.   

“The beautiful thing” about the diversity of the Jewish and African American communities, Johnson said, is that “we may not always agree, but we can disagree agreeably.”

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder also spoke to the participants and thanked members of the group for their contribution to the recent Theodor Herzl Award virtual gala at which the organization honored United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. In his remarks, Lauder referenced the words of former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, recipient of the Herzl Award in 2019, underscoring that “antisemitism is racism.”   

“The more we talk about antisemitism as another form of racism, the stronger, we are,” Lauder declared. 

In a letter to the participants of the conference, Lauder further emphasized the importance of combating racism and all types of bigotry: “We must counter hatred together. Racism is unacceptable. We must eradicate it. Antisemitism is absolutely unacceptable. We must eliminate it. Islamophobia is absolutely unacceptable. We must erase it. Attacks on Christian communities are unacceptable.” 

“Any form of hatred and bigotry left unchecked will ultimately poison society as a whole, and lead to acts of discrimination and violence,” Lauder concluded in his letter 

The conference, set to last two weeks, includes sessions with speakers representing faith and minority communities worldwide, including Mr. Johnson, the Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia; Secretary-General of Religions for Peace International; Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and influential thinkers such as Susannah Heschel, chair of the Jewish studies program at Dartmouth; and Cornell Brooks of the Harvard Kennedy School.  

The World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomatic Corps is a selective worldwide network of over 300 Jewish young professionals from 50 countries who are trained to engage on issues impacting Jewish interests through diplomacy and public policy including combating antisemitism, supporting Israel, protecting Holocaust legacy, strengthening Jewish unity, and safeguarding human rights and minority rights. 

WJC held a panel discussion on the history and future of the relationship between the Jewish and Black communities