The rise in antisemitism in the United States has put Jews on the edge in recent years but it was Kanye West that led to many speaking out.
It’s sad that it took Kanye West and a banner on the 405 in LA to get celebrities and everyone else talking. Where were they last May when there were protests outside of shuls and Holocaust museums? Where were they when Jews–especially visible Orthodox Jews–have been getting harassed and beaten regularly? I’m glad that people are choosing to display their support for the Jewish community online but posting an image isn’t enough. Is it performative allyship or will people say something whenever and wherever they see antisemitism going forward? Speaking for myself, I do not want fake allies in the fight against antisemitism. There are a rising number of left-wing spaces that have become frequently unwelcome to Jewish people. Take it from me–I have personal experience in not being welcome in left-wing LGBTQ spaces because of being Jewish.
The rising tide of antisemitism in recent years has made me question the safety of Jews in the United States. I’m not alone in this. After all, when you look at centuries of Jewish history, there is a history of having to pack up and leave. Antisemitism is no joke. Unlike WW2, Israel is an option. It is very sad when we now live in a time where we have to have a bag packed at all times. This should not be the case but yet, a number of liberal and center-left friends have discussed making aliyah before it’s too late. While remote screeners make it somewhat easier to do my job overseas, the geolocking does not but that’s another commentary for another day.
The MRC statement features some of the most powerful language I’ve seen in any statement condemning antisemitism. Most people probably wouldn’t think to word the following paragraph in this way. I think it’s brilliant. If this is what gets people talking and calling out antisemitism, I’m all for it. Thank to to Asif Satchu (CEO & Co-Founder), Modi Wiczyk (CEO & Co-Founder) and Scott Tenley (CBO)!
Kanye is a producer and sampler of music. Last week he sampled and remixed a classic tune that has charted for over 3000 years – the lie that Jews are evil and conspire to control the world for their own gain. This song was performed acapella in the time of the Pharaohs, Babylon and Rome, went acoustic with The Spanish Inquisition and Russia’s Pale of Settlement, and Hitler took the song electric. Kanye has now helped mainstream it in the modern era.
I love the casual dig at Adidas, which finally took action this morning. Better late than never but now everyone is familiar with their Nazi history. I was this week years old when I found out.
The silence from leaders and corporations when it comes to Kanye or antisemitism in general is dismaying but not surprising. What is new and sad, is the fear Jews have about speaking out in their own defense.
In recent years, a lot of anti-Zionism has fallen into antisemitism. Listen, I have my issues with Netanyahu and Likud and have openly said so. However, there have been too many times when anti-Zionism morphs into antisemitism in terms of protests. Look up the Boston Mapping Project of Jewish communal and other community organizations. It’s fricking scary. When the ADL has a page on an incident, that’s never a good thing. I didn’t hear about what happened at Wellesley College but it’s no different. Leftists make for strange bedfellows with right-wingers but if you watched Antisemitism on Ovid, you already knew this. This is why it is disappointing when I see people just dismiss left-wing antisemitism because they don’t want to hurt political allies. Trust me when I say that the only people you’re really hurting are your Jewish friends and colleagues. CALL IT OUT!
For proof of how quickly a protest of Israel’s policies can jump to antisemitism, look no further than last week’s outrage at Wellesley College. The school is a historical bastion of liberalism and civil rights. But last week its newspaper editorial board saw fit not only to condemn Israel, but actually publish a MAP of Jewish places of worship, organizations and business in the area so that they could be targeted for protest – or worse. This would not be shocking from Neo-Nazis, but Wellesley?
There’s a question of whether or not Kanye West will survive all of this. Will his skin color make the difference? I don’t know. It took some ten years for Mel Gibson to get Oscar nominations after exposing his antisemitism during a drunken tirade. I still refuse to watch his films. There’s a question to be said about why West didn’t get dropped for his numerous anti-Black comments like slavery being a choice or the “White Lives Matter” shirts.
Some people have the blame for such comments on his mental illness. But here’s the thing about mental illness: it should not be the scapegoat for a person’s hate. When you blame antisemitism on a mental illness, you diminish the hate. I battle depression but at no point in my life have I raged against an entire ethnicity or marginalized group. There’s a real stigma when it comes to mental illness but we need to stop blaming it for hate crimes against Jews. These people are getting radicalized somehow, right? Don’t take it from me alone. Listen to Josh Gad:
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) October 25, 2022
Call out antisemitism whenever and wherever you see it. Please. I beg of you. Your Jewish friends and colleagues are tired and scared. There are times where I have to decrease my activism on social media for self-care but even when I’m not doing so, I’m still scared by what’s happening to my fellow Jews.
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