For Debra Messing, antisemitism never goes away, we simply fight it anew

In her latest podcast episode, Messing reflected on antisemitism's influence on her upbringing and political identity.

Debra Messing receiving her Hollywood Star of Fame, October 2017 (photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
Debra Messing receiving her Hollywood Star of Fame, October 2017
Actress and activist Debra Messing has spoken out about her lifelong experience of antisemitism, which she said has been exacerbated in more recently by US President Donald Trump's refusal to denounce white supremacy.
Her comments came in a recent podcast, according to Forward, which she co-hosts with lawyer and activist Mandana Dayani called The Dissenters. On Thursday, October 15, they spoke with Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor and clinical psychologist. The topic? Antisemitism.
“It was very important for us to have someone who was there in the camps in Auschwitz because we did research, and we learned that two-thirds of millennials today, when asked what Auschwitz is, did not know,” Messing said. “That statistic was so astounding to me that it feels like a much bigger issue than just Republican or Democratic.”
Messing said she grew up with blatant antisemitism, so much so that it was an inseparable part of her childhood.
When she graduated into the world of Hollywood, she found the resounding silence surrounding antisemitism – especially when compared with the number of Jews in the industry – appalling. “I don’t really have an answer for why antisemitism isn’t spoken about more openly,” she said. “Obviously, we’re in the middle of a very potent time when it comes to racial justice, and it’s been a unifying thing to be able to walk alongside my African American friends in solidarity, but it did make me reflect on the fact that we never see any kind of protest against antisemitism.”
Politics, today and always, are fraught with discussions about antisemitism, which, she said, is “politicized right now because we’ve never in the history of our country had a president defend white supremacists.” In the last presidential debate, President Donald Trump reportedly refused to denounce white nationalists.
Added Messing, “Dissent and protest are celebrated in the Constitution, even though it may be maligned right now by the President. That’s a very Jewish thing."