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Mark Bloome: Community Leader and Coalition-Builder


Aviva Vogelstein, Brandeis Blog

July 21, 2016
 

Mark Bloome, the Seattle-based, national and local Jewish community leader and strategist, has become an expert at coalition-building and finding innovative ways to fight the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel and its anti-Semitism on a national basis.

Mark has tirelessly advocated for the Jewish community for over 35 years. For the past six years, he has focused his efforts on combatting the resurgence of anti-Semitism. Why this focus?

Mark recognized that as BDS began to spread and gain force, it was going to be a highly dangerous and damaging movement. As a poet with an excellent grasp of prose, and trained in business and in depth human motivational systems, Mark realized that the anti-Israel BDS advocates were on top of their game, using all types of words that were emotional – words used to move people. They were using extraordinarily deceptive language that framed their issue in terms of human rights, but that was laced with both overt and covert anti-Semitism. It became clear to Mark that it was not only the State of Israel, but also the Jewish people, who were being delegitimized by BDS advocates, and that violence and racial-type intimidations of Jewish students were already spreading to elite campuses in the U.S. Since Mark’s first realization six years ago of the dangers of BDS, the situation has gotten worse.

“In order to prevail over BDS and the rising forces of anti-Semitism,” says Mark, “we need to have a united Jewish community. To do so requires coalition-building, which requires a subordination of organizational and personal egos to achieve victory over those who hate Jews. In coalition-building, you need resources, both human and financial capital, especially to combat the resource-rich BDS.” He added, “the rifts in the Jewish community over Israel would otherwise tear us apart. We must work together.”

In building a coalition, Mark says you have to listen carefully to the intended goals of each individual group, as well as the reasons behind those goals. Then, you must find common ground, and conduct diplomatic constructive work to bring different parties into alignment, which might result in an evolved and better goal, or as Mark says, “the metamorphosis of the collective mind.” But to do that, different groups must start off with the desire to work together.

Mark is working to curb the problem before it gets worse. One of the countermeasures that Mark believes has potential to reduce the current vivid anti-Semitism on many of our U.S. campuses, is to define anti-Semitism. We must define anti-Semitism at both the university and government levels, so that university administrators and government officials can properly identify and treat anti-Semitism just as seriously as any other form of hate or bias. Mark has determined that being part of, and building, coalitions of Jewish organizations with similar goals and the capacity and willingness to work with others, is the best way to achieve success.

“Just as other minorities on campus are able to state what is racist from their point of view, Jews need the same equivalency,” says Mark. In defining anti-Semitism, Mark believes that the Jewish community needs to define anti-Semitism from its own collective point of view. This common perspective then needs to be shared with all institutions that deal with protecting people from discrimination, Marks says, and Jewish students on American college campuses must be afforded the same protections as African Americans, Muslims, the LGBT community, etc., which is not currently the case.

A few years ago, Mark became familiar with the work of the Brandeis Center, which was already engaged in efforts to adopt a uniform definition of anti-Semitism, and met Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus. Mark recognized that Ken possessed the unique professional and personal capacities necessary for achieving what Mark wished to accomplish. Both men understood the problem, shared similar goals, and worked well together.

“Mark has been very involved in behind-the-scenes efforts to build coalitions and influence public policy,” says Marcus, a colleague and friend of Mark. “He has a unique way of ensuring cooperation among different organizations with similar goals. He is selfless about giving credit, and passionate about making change.”

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Research Articles
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Over 50% of Jewish American college students report that they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. .
 
 
 
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Gregory H. Stanton
Professor Stanton has received degrees from Oberlin College, Harvard Divinity School, Yale Law School and a masters and doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2001-2002).
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