In recent weeks we have seen an increase in antisemitic comments from public figures, celebrities and professional athletes.
What seemed to have begun as unity across racial divides to condemn police brutality and demand change has instead morphed into something else: the extremist and intolerant ideology of a few leaders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, an embrace of (or at the least, making excuses for) antisemites like Louis Farrakhan, and a new, more public manifestation of antisemitic conspiracies and tropes from multiple influential celebrities.
Instead of the Jewish community uniformly coming out against this antisemitism, there are still organizations and individuals who are basically telling Jews it’s their own fault – it’s because the Jewish community “hasn’t done enough” to help the black community.
This is not only not true, but also whataboutism at its finest. As Jews, we don’t need to apologize when others engage in antisemitism, no matter who the perpetrator of the antisemitic act is. Even victims of racism should not be given a free pass to indulge in other forms of racism or hatred.
THE BLM movement has always had issues with Israel in its platform – despite the fact that Israel has nothing to do with police or government attitudes toward the black community in America. In 2016, BLM added a section to its platform accusing the Jewish state of “genocide” against Palestinians.
This was condemned by many in the Jewish community, but despite that, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, Jewish organizations and community leaders across the board came out in support of the black community and were vocal supporters of the BLM cause, even if not the official organization (a distinction made by many in the West who harbor serious doubts about BLM’s organizational platform).
After several weeks of protests, BLM leaders made explicitly antisemitic comments, and BLM in the UK even tweeted publicly calling for an end to Israel with “Free Palestine.” They also explicitly endorsed the BDS movement, arguably a form of racism and discrimination in and of itself.
While most protests were peaceful, multiple protests saw crowds chanting about Israel “murdering kids” and even about Jews being “our dogs.”
A simple look at history demonstrates that whenever a scapegoat is sought, antisemitism creeps in, and sadly this situation is no different. First, rapper Diddy promoted an event on the Fourth of July livestreaming to millions the speech of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan is a proud antisemite, has publicly compared Jews to termites, and frequently refers to Jews as “satanic.”
Even in his Fourth of July speech, he called Jews “impostors... worthy of chastisement.” Let’s not forget that NOI is also responsible for intentional historical distortion falsely accusing Jews of being responsible for the transatlantic slave trade – a modern blood libel of our time.
After that, Ice Cube, an NOI supporter, made headlines for his hateful antisemitic comments about Jews. When he was criticized, he doubled down. Not long after that, NFL player DeSean Jackson posted a quote attributed to Hitler on his Instagram, and NBA player Stephen Jackson added antisemitic conspiracies about the Jews owning all the banks.
Days later, a clip of antisemitic conspiracies praised by Nick Cannon surfaced. Cannon first doubled down, and then sent out bizarre tweets semi-apologizing, prompting a wave of criticism against Jews for “making him apologize.”
Cannon’s comments led to the immediate termination of his contract with ViacomCBS, but despite the outlandishness of his antisemitic comments, Fox is standing by Cannon.
Last week rapper Waka Flocka condemned Nick Cannon’s apology, arguing he’s “just stating the truth.” While many black leaders, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley, did condemn the slew of antisemitic statements from the celebrities, the reactions have been mixed, and that’s a problem.
Instead of the rightful outrage across the board, as there was from nearly everyone post-George Floyd, there is a mixed reaction of people defending, minimizing and excusing antisemitism today for a variety of different reasons – none of which are valid.
JUST AS we should have zero tolerance for antiblack racism, we should not be afraid to strongly and proudly speak out against antisemitism, even when it’s not popular. Calling out antisemitism from the Left, Right, black, white, or any other community isn’t attacking that community, it is saying that, as Jews, we cannot accept this behavior, and we will not tolerate these antisemitic tropes.
The reality is that the Jewish community has stood with the black community, before and now, and will continue to do so in the future. Jews marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and accounted for half of the young people who participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964, and we support the push for justice, reform and racial equality today.
But we cannot brush aside the antisemitism being spread around simply because it’s coming from some black voices. To fail to call out this antisemitism is cowardice, and as Menachem Begin once said, “I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles.” The response to antisemitism should be no different today.The writer is the CEO of Social Lite Creative.