1. Influencers and celebrities are normalizing hatred
Whether it’s athletes, actors, comedians or politicians, anyone who holds a mic, has a fan following or a platform of influence must understand the importance and potential danger of their words. Several influential entertainment icons at the top of their industries use their social platforms and traditional media to perpetuate age-old stereotypes against Jews to millions of impressionable followers. While Sportswear brand Adidas is on the hook for $1.3 billion in inventory after cutting ties with Kanye,Rihanna sang one of his songs during the Super Bowl halftime show – earning him yet another royalty check. An influencer in any capacity has a solemn responsibility to carefully consider the impact of their words and actions.
2. Words can be weapons and must be wielded carefully
Conspiracy theories about Jews are pervasive and can lead to deadly consequences. Examples of radicalized terrorists include the hostage taker at the Colleyville, TX, synagogue and Tree of Life Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. The terrorist in Texas “literally thought that Jews control the world,” and the Pittsburgh terrorist shared the same belief. People of all ages turn to the internet – especially social media – to read, watch and listen to popular celebrities and influencers. Some personalities have more social media followers than there are Jews in the world! Too many susceptible followers think what they hear is a green light for them to commit assaults against Jews. U.S. Rep. Gottheimer condemned Joe Rogan’s anti-Jewish comments, drawing a direct line between inciteful rhetoric and attacks on Jews: “It’s despicable language like this that leads to attacks and threats against Jewish people.” Hate creates a vicious cycle.
3. Americans must confront anti-Jewish hatred, not remain silent
A long history of silent ‘bystanders’ do not speak up or intervene when Jews are the subjects of hate. Today’s bystanders help fuel antisemitism, and their silence has not served Jews well. Americans in positions of power have a civic responsibility to take a forceful stance against Jew hatred. Verbal and physical assaults against Jews must be called out quickly – on campus or in the workplace, on social media or in conversations. The American Bar Association took a strong stance against anti-Jewish hatred in a recently passed resolution. While Jewish organizations were disappointed with the exclusion of the IHRA definition, lawyers at the largest U.S. bar association gave impassioned speeches in support of the resolution. Americans have a responsibility to stand up for what is right and deploy the courage to say what is wrong. Left unchallenged, anti-Jewish rhetoric can lead to violence.
4. Jews should not be forced to conceal their identity for their own safety
American Jews should feel safe to publicly express themselves in an open and pluralistic society. It is a startling reality to acknowledge that half of university students and one-quarter of adult American Jews hide their Jewish identity. This includes a Star of David necklace or Israeli shirt, or hiding that they are Jews. Jewish students feel alienated and are afraid of “outing” themselves as Jews on campus. Worse, when an overt act of antisemitism does happen, it is too often dismissed. AnOregon university fired a professor who reported antisemitic incidents – ultimately settling with him for $1 million.
5. The far-left, far-right and radical Islam all spew hatred against Jews
Jew-hatred becomes even more threatening and dangerous when it unifies organizations and individuals with otherwise dramatically opposing views. White supremacists are championing Kanye’s rhetoric, hosting “Ye is right, change my mind” events on university campuses. Anti-Jewish bigots often substitute “Zionists” for “Jews” to mask their hatred. Neo-Nazi KKK leader David Duke shares anti-Israel content – falsely accusing Israel of committing ‘genocide.’ The Mapping Projecttargets Jewish organizations for their presumed Zionism and implies that all Jews are fair game for violence. Extremist Islamic rhetoric continues to incite terrorist attacks on Jews both in Israel and in America. Recently, the imam and director of an Anaheim, CA, mosque asserted that “Jews will be annihilated” at the End of Times (video).