Antisemitism and Jew-hatred are not the same - opinion

There is no logic behind Jew-hatred which makes it harder to reason with Jew-haters.

 BROOKLYN NETS basketball player Kyrie Irving (left) is among Jew-hatred’s most vocal and visible proselytizers, says the writer (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)
BROOKLYN NETS basketball player Kyrie Irving (left) is among Jew-hatred’s most vocal and visible proselytizers, says the writer
(photo credit: USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Jew-hatred is on the rise in the US. I’m not talking about antisemitism, I’m not calling it antisemitism. I’m talking about Jew-hatred. Antisemitism and Jew-hatred are not the same. 

Jew-hatred is a visceral hate. It is emotional, it is not at all rational. Other than diving into the dark corners from which it emanates, there is almost no true response or method to combat Jew-hatred.

The only way to confront Jew-hatred is to make it unacceptable in public spheres. Like other behaviors that are unacceptable in public, Jew-hatred needs to be rejected. Racism is unacceptable, and so is Jew-hatred. Xenophobia is unacceptable, and so is Jew-hatred. Homophobia is unacceptable, and so is Jew-hatred.

Decent people need to step up and say a loud and clear “no” to those promoting and professing Jew-hatred. They need to say “stop” no matter how subtle the message. They need to send out their message on social media and in person. 

There is no logic to Jew-hatred. And because it is illogical, there is no reasoning with Jew-haters. A Jew-hater cannot be convinced that he/she/they are wrong. There is only shaming. Shaming – public shaming and private shaming – is the only language they understand. It is the only message they will receive and internalize.

 Kanye West (illustrative). (credit: NRK P3/Flickr) Kanye West (illustrative). (credit: NRK P3/Flickr)

What is the difference between Jew-hatred and antisemitism?

Plain and simple, that is the difference between Jew-hatred and antisemitism. Antisemitism is a philosophy. Antisemitism is based on principles. It is wrong – but it is not visceral. It is based on a set of ideas.

Today’s Jew-hatred is filled more and more with anger and vitriol. Today’s Jew-hatred smacks of medieval-style Jew-hatred, which was deeply seeded in religious hate.

Social media allows for and even permits the free flow of this hatred. It goes unchecked. It flourishes.

THERE IS a stream of black Jews in America who promote Jew-hatred. They promote Jew-hatred as a way of convincing many of their followers on social media that Jews are supplanters. That Jews are not the true children of Israel, that African Americans are the true children of Israel.

The essence of their philosophy is that Jews stole black history. That the Jews of today are counterfeits and frauds. Their philosophy is, of course, based totally on a hoax. But the truth does not seem to matter. 

They do it on social media and they do it on street corners. Pop leader Kanye West and professional athlete and seven-time NBA all-star Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets are among Jew-hatred’s most vocal and visible proselytizers.

The New York Times summed it up: “On October 27, Irving tweeted a link to Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a 2018 film driven by antisemitic tropes about Jewish people lying about their origins. Among its false and outlandish claims is the assertion that the Holocaust never happened.”

“On October 27, Irving tweeted a link to Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a 2018 film driven by antisemitic tropes about Jewish people lying about their origins. Among its false and outlandish claims is the assertion that the Holocaust never happened.”

The New York Times

In response, Joe Tsai, the owner of the Nets and Irving’s employer, tweeted: “I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity, or religion.”

Irving was suspended. He was expected to apologize. Instead, he doubled down and replied: “History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody… I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”

In an interview with the sports network ESPN, Irving went so far as to claim that the reporter interviewing him was trying to “dehumanize.” How was he dehumanizing? The reporter asked him whether he had “promoted” the film by posting about it on Twitter.

On November 4, Irving announced that he was pledging a half million dollars to the ADL to fight antisemitism. The ADL rejected his gift.

Irving’s response statement fell short of a real apology. It was: “I am aware of the negative impact of my post toward the Jewish community and I take responsibility… I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles.”

Kanye West and Kyrie Irving belong to a select group of people whose voices are heard, whose actions – whether it be the clothes they wear, or the music they listen to, or the words they speak – are mimicked by their vast number of followers. They are influencers.

Influencers wield tremendous power. It is not a cliche. Influencers influence. They have a real impact on people – on millions of people. In this case, these influencers profess deep hatred of Jews, and that Jew-hatred ripples far and wide, teaching innumerable followers to be Jew-haters, as well.

The writer is a social and political commentator. His TV show, Thinking Out Loud, is on the Jewish Broadcasting Service.