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Condemning Kanye/Ye’s Antisemitism (and all the other Hatred too)

Kanye West, who prefers to be called Ye, released a series of antisemitic tirades over the past weeks. Styling himself as speaking the truth, he repeated and updated longtime antisemitic tropes in hate-filled posts on Instagram and Twitter, in interviews on the Tucker Carson Show (vile comments that were edited out, but were later released) and elsewhere. Disavowed and condemned by many, his diatribes influenced others, including a white supremicist group that hung supportive antisemitic banners across the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles.

Thankfully his business partners – including adidas after an unnecessary delay – have dissolved working relationships with him.

Thankfully non-Jewish and coalition groups and individuals – including our interfaith partners LA Voice – have spoken out vociferously.

We live in a country where hate-filled speech – including racism, antisemitism, homophobia, hate against Asians and against people with disabilities – is increasingly prominent and increasingly tolerated in too many quarters. We Jews know that words matter, because words illuminate the hidden hatreds that foreshadow and inspire acts of violence by others.

Ye/Kanye’s antisemitism is particularly worrisome because as a national figure, he commands a huge stage, with a following that maximally may embrace and emulate his hatred or minimally may take such vile statements as reflecting truths. We condemn his words and commit to educating and self-educating.

Hatred Proliferating

But Ye/Kanye is not alone in spewing hatred and antisemitism. Los Angeles is still reeling after disclosure of private discussions among politicians including racist talk and strategizing against black and other groups. Our country’s conversations are rife with racist conversations, some veiled as critiques of so-called White Replacement Theory and other conspiracy theories, which when followed to their core, ultimately target Jews as the master manipulators. And too many politicians turn to racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and other hate-filled tropes to turn out the vote.

We Jews have long learned that hate against one people or group inevitably expands and morphs until others – including and too often Jews – become targets of hate. Even as we decry such hatred shared or equally-problematically tolerated and not condemned by others, we should also demand an end to such actions within the groups and political parties we belong to. Because antisemitism and hatred currently is coming from all over the political spectrum.

Opening Our Eyes to Antisemitism

In my 2018 sermon, titled To Be A Jew, we discussed:

To be a Jew is to point out the antisemitism of the extreme left, rejecting its deceptive claims that it is not antisemitic, just anti-Zionist and opposed to Israel’s policies, because if one studies the origin, current leadership, and the effects of their teachings, one discovers that their anti-Israel words and actions mask a virulent form of Jew-hatred that is dangerous to Jews and endangers the pursuit of democracy championed by our beloved America.

To be a Jew is to point out the antisemitism of the extreme right, that underlies the white supremacist movement and its sister nationalist movement, that claim to not be antisemitic, even though they speak with code words, and not so coded words, used throughout history by pogrom instigators, genocidal maniacs, and other Jew haters, words that are repeated by their leaders and ours, and are dangerous to Jews and endanger the pursuit of democracy championed by our beloved America.

To be a Jew is to remember that when – here or abroad – the far left and the far right, each absolving themselves of charges of antisemitism, still get back to the same place – namely, that Jews are the root of the world’s evils – we find ourselves in a terrifying, dangerous chapter that doesn’t end well for any of us. And if you really think today’s haters are inherently different, or the left’s are worse than the right’s, or the right’s are worse then the left’s, then go reread your history. Both are dangerous.

What can we do?

Mark Shpall, Head of School at de Toledo High School teaches:

Here are a few important actions to remember:

  1. So as not to bring more attention or online traffic to these hate groups, never Google or click on any links to these offending groups.
  2. Remember to report to the local police and your local ADL chapter the antisemitic activity you observe or are made aware of.
  3. Remind anyone who might be in a position of influence to speak out against such acts of hatred, as well as against any businesses or individuals that support or condone (through their actions or their silence) antisemitism in any form.
  4. Follow the websites and social media postings of these sources of information and action:

ADL: Anti-Defamation League
AJC: American Jewish Committee
JTA news

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