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College campus app to combat hate: Interview with Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is a leader in the fight for human rights. Rabbi Cooper strives to guide the fight against hate in his position as the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization with over 400,000 members, works to combat anti-Semitism globally.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Cooper continue in their efforts to combat hate with a new app made for college students to assist in the solution to fight against hate.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center
Rabbi Cooper works to combat hate
Simon Wiesenthal Center

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is known internationally as an authority regarding digital hate on the internet.

As an editor-in-chief of "Response" magazine, Rabbi Cooper's editorials have been showcased in the leading newspapers world-wide. Rabbi Cooper has brought the Simon Wiesenthal Center into the digital world with the wiesenthal.com website. He also created the informative askmusa.org website to further encourage Muslims to connect with the Jewish people around the world.

In 2013 Rabbi Cooper assisted in developing an app for IOS and android to empower kids to report online hate, bullying, terrorism. "CombatHate is the first-of-its-kind application designed to empower young people to confidentially report a hate crime, hate incident or online hate to the Simon Wiesenthal Center."

An app geared for young adults to battle hate on college campuses is being launched.

As with CombatHate, CombatHateU, which will be available shortly in mid September, is designed to empower young people against extremists. The app is to assist young college adults to deal with online hate, terrorism and bullying by helping them recognize and report hate incidents and utilize resources to help them deal with the effects of hate.

The apps allow students to help fight hate crimes by using their cell phones to capture and report incidents directly to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, allowing the Center to pass on the important information to relevant agencies.

The CombatHateU app is specifically geared for all students who are Jewish and supporters of Israel (members of fraternities, sororities, Hillel and clubs) to make sure that they know that they are not alone. Rabbi Cooper stresses that every Jewish kid on campus should put it on their phone to let them know that they can be part of the solution against hate.

Rabbi Cooper explains the necessity of the CombatHateU app to empower college students.

Very seriously Rabbi Cooper spoke the reality how one day a kid is a high school student and then three months later they are a young adult thrown into college life to fend for themselves. The app is created to help these students deal with college issues regarding hate stating "The app's responsibility is to be an early warning system for not just Jewish children and young adults but for all." Stressing "it is important to know the difference between hate speech and bullying."

Students will be empowered using the app, as Rabbi Cooper explains "The CombatHateU app is designed as two way platform to inform and empower students who see something to say something to work nationally". The CombatHateU app is for college students who are Jewish, or not Jewish but pro Israel, who has been attacked or intimidated by standing up for Israel. Rabbi Cooper spoke of many schools who intimidate Jewish kids who identify with Israel from being part of student government as well as professors who use their status to teach against Israel. The app will let students know that there is someone on their side, such as a local rabbi, to help.

With the expectation that anti Israel and pro Hamas anti-Semitic rhetoric will flow onto campuses, students will be able to capture incidences on their phones and send it to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Simon Wiesenthal Center will be made aware of personal incidences as well as hate crimes. Students are also encouraged to report issues with professors regarding to anti-Semitism. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is planning on having staff out of LA and NY. Two senior people will be assigned to evaluate what comes in; to verify and check the severity of each incident reported.

Rabbi Cooper strongly encourages every Jewish parent and grandparent who has a student in college should download app as well. Rabbi Cooper fiercely emphasizes "The app should be an empowerment for every Jewish kid on campus".

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with the amazing Rabbi Abraham Cooper.

The wonderful Rabbi Cooper was born in 1950 in New York but has spent much of his life battling for Jewish and human rights causes around the world. His biography details the Rabbi's efforts working with Mr. Simon Wiesenthal beginning in 1977 when Rabbi Cooper went to Los Angeles to help find the Simon Wiesenthal Center with Rabbi Marvin Hier. Since, he has been a faithful leader working tirelessly in the fight against hate.

To delve deeper into where the Rabbi's passion comes from I asked Rabbi Cooper "When did you first realize what you wanted to do with your life?"

Rabbi Cooper answered "I am a native New Yorker, born in Flatbush. Born in 1950 and attending Yeshiva Flatbush I was impacted by the soviet jewry movement, especially after I met Glenn Richter and Jacob Birnbaum when I was 15. Many of my teachers came from Israel or had fled the holocaust." Rabbi Cooper further explained "In 1972 I spent four weeks in the Soviet Union with refuseniks in challenging conditions who were ready to expose their lives. I met Rabbi Marvin Hier in Vancouver Canada and when he went on sabbatical I took over some of his rabbinical duties. Rabbi Hier then asked me to join him in LA to meet Simon Wiesenthal and start a center."

Rabbi Cooper spoke of Mr. Simon Wiesenthal "As an activist Wiesenthal wanted the center to be about Jewish activism, noting 'A good name is more precious than oil'. Wiesenthal told them "If you take my name we must be more diligent for the future".

His first concern, as Rabbi Cooper states "How can we help, what can we do." Rabbi Cooper spoke of the ability to now use the internet to follow the hate in order to help combat it. Further explaining "Help encourage young people to be proud of being Jewish; Use history to stay aware. The goal is to empower people who live in the world's greatest democracy to make a difference". Also emphasizing, the Rabbi spoke of the Museums of Tolerance as "Dynamic institutions".

Traveling around the world Rabbi Cooper has met with the world's leaders to assist in the fight to defend the rights of not just the Jewish people, but to also encourage intergroup relations and battle terrorism. Overseeing the Wiesenthal Center’s international social action agenda, Rabbi Cooper has battled for "worldwide promotion of tolerance education". With old war wounds of anti-Semitism still sore, and the current battle between Israel and Palestine, Rabbi Cooper and the Simon Wiesenthal Center continue their efforts to achieve peace and compassion for all people around the world.

Take Rabbi Coopers lead to spread the peace and never be afraid to dance.

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