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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Jeffrey L. Falick


For those in our community – in our country – who were unready or unable to confront the reality that antisemitism is rapidly growing, we have reached a moment of truth. I fail to see how anyone can deny the festering problem in our nation and its parallels elsewhere.

Publicity about the latest volley of Jew-hatred has mostly revolved around the antisemitic tirades of Kanye West. You may not be a fan of his music and you may not know about his turbulent marriage to ex-wife Kim Kardashian. But make no mistake, the man is a mega-mega-superstar, winner of 29 Grammy Awards. His words matter because of his reach. Just one of his now-cancelled social media accounts had millions more followers than there are Jews on this planet.

West’s antisemitic outbursts came just as his star began rising in MAGA-world. Only a few weeks ago, he and MAGA-broadcaster Candace Owens showed up at his Paris fashion show wearing “White Lives Matter” t-shirts. That stunt attracted the attention of eager haters who would subsequently applaud his antisemitic poison.

And out it did spew. His tweet about “going death con 3 on Jewish people” was the first that many of us saw. But it was far from his inaugural rant. Even as Twitter banned him – a move quickly protested by the official account of the “House Judiciary GOP” – Tucker Carlson conducted a fawning Fox News interview. He conveniently left West’s many anti-Jewish statements on the cutting-room floor. No matter. West could not keep his mouth shut. He was soon launching into hours-long invectives against Jews on podcasts and in other venues.

Kanye West did not, of course, propel antisemitism to the heights it now holds. It’s been on that trajectory for a long time. MAGA politicians like (just to name two) gubernatorial candidates Doug Mastriano (PA) and Kari Lake (AZ) have long associated with extremists from the rapidly mainstreaming antisemitic, racist, white supremacist quarters of our nation. Donald Trump himself, his Jewish family members notwithstanding, has amped up his contributions to this deteriorating situation.

In what is just the latest example, published on his Truth Social site, Trump admonished American Jews to "get their act together" to appreciate what they have in his support for Israel "before it is too late.” The ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt was quick to address this repeat of Trump’s longstanding references to Jewish dual loyalties. “We don't need the former president, who curries favor with extremists and antisemites, to lecture us about the US-Israel relationship,” he tweeted. “This ‘Jewsplaining’ is insulting and disgusting.”

This, then, was the seething climate of Jew-targeting into which West hurled his invective. There is little doubt that it has further emboldened antisemites. In West, MAGA-world has gained its first real Black pop star, something to help “prove” to others that they are not racists. His antisemitism is to them a small, even insignificant price to pay. As former Jewish Republican Jennifer Rubin has pointed out, no right wing politician – not a single one – has condemned him. They haven’t even deleted their supportive tweets.

Corporate partners, on the other hand, did cut ties with West. Balenciaga canceled their deal. His talent agency dropped him. Adidas, however, seems to have thought they could weather the storm despite loud cries to cut him loose. Their hesitancy only encouraged West. As he said last week, “I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?” After days of pleading by the ADL and others, the shoe company – founded by two early supporters of Adolf Hitler – finally did so this morning and only after their stock began to plummet.

In the meantime, the West effect is making matters worse. Last weekend law enforcement in Southern Californian and other major Jewish communities reported almost unprecedented simultaneous demonstrations and other attacks on the Jews. It’s likely you saw the signs hanging over Interstate 405 in L.A. stating “Kanye is right about the Jews” and “Honk if you know.”

From what I’ve heard, the honking was interminable. See below for a picture of the signs and stiff-armed-saluting neo-Nazis who displayed them. I’ve also added pictures of horrifying fliers that were widely distributed in L.A. and elsewhere.

We have long known that MAGA-world harbors Jew haters, but because of Evangelical support for Israel and Trump’s Jewish family members, much of their antisemitism has been excused. It's also been their practice to express it in dog whistles ("SOROS!"). Those who understood it understood it. Those who didn’t either chose to ignore it or were otherwise blinded by support for shared agendas.

What West has done with his anti-Jewish rhetoric has helped tear down what few rusty guardrails remained. And it will soon get even worse. Between his own desire to purchase right wing social media site Parler and Elon Musk’s imminent acquisition of Twitter, where he’s made it quite clear that he’ll unleash MAGA-world and unban Trump, West, and others, social media is about to become an even bigger threat to Jews.*

Like many others, I have remained optimistic that would just fade away. But since the events of January 6, 2021 and the concomitant increase in rightist violence in general, I am no longer in that camp. If and when conditions improve, it will only be after they grow more frightening and dangerous.

I don’t have the answers, but I know that Jewish disunity can only make things worse. The time has come for Jews of all backgrounds and Americans of goodwill to raise our voices before it really is too late.


*And yes, yes, I am aware of the growing use of support for Palestinian rights as a cover for antisemitism. But even the ADL, which has spent much time on this, points out that the overwhelming number of antisemitic incidents are related to the extreme right or are non-political in nature.


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