Decrying Antisemitism – October 25 2022
by Rabbi Paul Kipnes
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 his hatred or minimally continue to take such vile statements as reflecting truths. We condemn his words and commit to educating and self-educating.
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.
In my 2018 sermon, titled To Be A Jew, I warned us:
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.
In the coming weeks, beginning at this week’s Friday night services, we will address the insidiousness of this new/old antisemitism, and offer training sessions for understanding and combatting the world’s oldest hatred. Watch this enews for more information and then speak up and show up.
Learn more at:
American Jewish Committee