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Patriots owner Robert Kraft on antisemitism in America: "It shouldn't happen here"

NFL's Robert Kraft's anti-hate campaign
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft launches campaign combating antisemitism 07:17

Like many Jews growing up in America, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft remembers the first time he faced antisemitism.

 "It was in high school, and there was a kid. He made a comment. It was laced with expletives, and 'dirty Jew' at the end," he recalled. "It came very close to being a physical fight, and we both were held back. But you know what? I wound up making a friend of that guy. You can make friends of your enemies by dialogue, education."

According to the Anti-Defamation League, 2022 saw the most antisemitic incidents ever recorded in the U.S., and while Jews make up less than 2.5 percent of the population, they are victims of more than half of all religious-based hate crimes.

Kraft said he's never seen this level of antisemitism in the U.S. before, and is afraid for his country. He is responding by investing $25 million in the "Stand Up to Jewish Hate" campaign. Public service ads ask all Americans to say "no" to antisemitism, and show how people can do their part to combat hate.

#StandUpToJewishHate: Son by Foundation to Combat Antisemitism on YouTube

At the center of the campaign is a blue square, taking up roughly 2.4% of a screen – the same percentage of the U.S. population made up by Jews.

Kraft said, "We're asking all fellow Americans to use this blue emoji on their iPhones, their iPads, and wear this as a symbol that they're partnering with us and standing up against anti-semitism."

Alarmed by rising incidents of antisemitism, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is spearheading the "Stand Up to Jewish Hate" campaign. CBS News

But Kraft knows he cannot do it alone – it takes a team. "You don't win unless everyone's pitching in. Yeah, any team sport, any business, anything you want to win at, you need people from all places and all pitching and [putting] team first," he said.

As the owner of a storied football team, Kraft has made some influential friends and influencers (including a former quarterback). "We also have a lot of good people who will recognize that this is something they want to partner with."

"CBS Saturday Morning" co-host Dana Jacobson asked, "Why do you need it to be more than just the Jewish population?"

"Because we are so small," he said. "We did some research and it showed that over 50% of Americans believe that we can handle this problem on our own. And we know we can't."

The campaign springs from Kraft's Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, which he created after antisemitic rhetoric in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and the deadly 2018 attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

A big part of the foundation's focus: antisemitism found online and on social media. Those incidents are tracked in a command center built in Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., steps away from Kraft's office.

Why so close? "Because I knew I wanted to have access and be hands-on and check what they're doing," Kraft said.

What they are doing is monitoring conversations across 300 million data sources. They can see in real time spikes in antisemitic rhetoric, and share information with other organizations fighting hate.

The Foundation to Combat Antisemitism monitors online incidents and postings of antisemitic hatred and propaganda.  CBS News

Kraft said, "It's going on constantly, and there's no let up, and it makes me sad, actually. This is the United States of America. I mean, it shouldn't happen here."

And that is the goal behind the foundation and the Stand Up to Jewish Hate campaign: to stop it.

Jacobson asked, "Why are you the right person to do this?"

"I don't know that I'm the right person!" he laughed. "I think it's important to show people that you're proud of your heritage. And some people don't know I'm of Jewish heritage. Well, I'm not ashamed to tell them that, and I'm proud of it."

Kraft said while this campaign is about antisemitism, it affects us all, because hate doesn't stop with targeting Jewish people. 

#StandUpToJewishHate: Tony by Foundation to Combat Antisemitism on YouTube
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