Time to pay attention: US Jews live in fear of antisemitism -opinion

There is a rise of antisemitism in the United States and a lot of the fear makes it look like the antisemitism from Nazi Germany.

 RAPPER KANYE West holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid, 2020. This past week, he proclaimed to more than 18 million social media followers that he was going to go “death (sic) con 3 on Jewish people.” (photo credit: RANDALL HILL/REUTERS)
RAPPER KANYE West holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid, 2020. This past week, he proclaimed to more than 18 million social media followers that he was going to go “death (sic) con 3 on Jewish people.”
(photo credit: RANDALL HILL/REUTERS)

I can’t believe what I’m hearing and seeing around me and I am scared.

There is a terrifying new rise of antisemitism sweeping across America and Europe. Certainly, we’ve been here before. Frankly, it’s never truly gone away. But hate has found its voice on social media and in public forums, yelling at any who will listen. History repeats itself and here we are again.

I am seriously frightened by this; we all should be.

Echoes of the Holocaust

Ken Burns’s recent PBS documentary The US and the Holocaust illustrates how a European Jewish population seeking to assimilate into German culture became complacent to the movement around them. These Jews were proud Germans, many of whom fought for that country in World War I and they included members of my own family. Burns’ documentary also shows how the US was initially unwilling to intervene in the Holocaust, even as evidence of the horrors publicly unfolded.

 My DNA shows a history of fleeing. Before my German ancestors, there were family members of Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Austrian and Croatian descent. They, too, remained complacent in the 1800s when the Pogroms reminded them that they were not equal. From Tunisia, Morocco and Spain to Finland, Israel and New York, there is a record in my blood of desperate flights from antisemitism. Several of these relatives – so many faces I saw represented in Burns’ documentary – perished in Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.

 A protestor carries a white supremacist and antisemitic sign outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on the second day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, November 17, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN) A protestor carries a white supremacist and antisemitic sign outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on the second day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, November 17, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

Antisemitism in America

 Just last month outside of my home in Nashville, an Uber driver called me a dirty Jew and physically threatened me. I trembled as I fled the car. A friend who is a reform rabbi in Sacramento recently told me he is afraid to leave his house wearing a yarmulka. Another friend in Newport Beach has moved his mezuzah inside from its traditional placement outside of his home’s front door. Yet another friend in Berlin recently moved from the city after being repeatedly threatened for looking Jewish. I have always worn a chai around my neck to symbolize life. I’m now being asked by concerned family and friends to wear it inside of my shirt.

 This isn’t a matter of my Jewish faith. It’s a fundamental breakdown of our shared humanity.

This past Monday morning, we collectively awakened to two frighteningly familiar situations: Kanye West proclaimed to more than 18 million social media followers that he was going to go “death (sic) con 3 on Jewish people.” He, as so many others in the past, is now repeating the same ugly rhetoric pertaining to the power and agent of Jews. The mob that marched in Charlottesville did the same when they repeatedly shouted, “Jews will not replace us.”

Meanwhile at a Trump rally last weekend, Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville publicly promoted a blatantly racist narrative connecting black people with crime. The large crowd cheered.

Pay attention to hate

If you’re not getting angry, you’re not paying attention.

I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be black, Asian, Muslim, a woman, or LGBTQ in America. Every day, I want to march, scream and fight to change what is happening to these communities whom I love, respect and admire. I will not tolerate antisemitism, racism, ignorance, or hate from individuals or institutions, celebrities or politicians, friends, colleagues, or strangers and neither should you.

My own lessons from the past will no longer be surrendered to complacency or fleeing in fear but to stand my ground. I will march, scream and stand with you, and I humbly ask for you to do the same.

The Los Angeles-based writer is president of Music at Electronic Arts and co-founder of Creative Community for Peace and Black Jewish Entertainment Alliance.