American Jews… Relax!
I know a title like that could get me into trouble, especially in times like this, but when I take a look at history comparatively, I can’t help but laugh at the mass panic that seems to be flying across social media based on the remarks from a few celebrities, who were deemed nuts a long time ago. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve started to see Holocaust comparisons and “This is how it started in Germany!” posts.
Uhh, no it wasn’t. Europe had about a thousand years of anti-Semitism bubbling up from the surface never present in this country. And, while I know everyone likes to play victim nowadays, to compare what Kanye or Ye, or whatever the hell he’s calling himself this week, says to what was going on in Germany in the 1930s is an absurdity, and you should stop.
Should you call him out on it? Sure! Want to plaster criticism all over social media? Great! But let’s stop the Germany/Europe comparisons. A few whackjobs hanging a sign over the 405 freeway saying “Kanye was right about the Jews!” does not equal state-sponsored race hate. How many people is that by the way? Are we up to a dozen yet as far as people who make that kind of effort to spread nonsense? How many participated and supported Kristallnacht? I think it was a bit of a bigger crowd.
The beauty of the United States of America is that when people spew anti-Semitic garbage, the backlash comes close to ruining them, as opposed to propelling them forward (unless of course they are in Congress). Another beauty is how this country was founded in relation to Jews. We have been here since the beginning. That’s not true in relation to Europe. Find me a country on that continent that at some point didn’t expel its Jews. Even Monaco rounded up Jews and deported them in WWII. Freaking Monaco!
The oldest Jewish cemetery in America is in Chinatown in New York City. I’m not making that up. Go look for yourself. When I visited, I was proud to see at least two gravestones of soldiers who fought with George Washington and died in the Revolutionary War. That simply is not the case in Europe. A letter from George Washington remains in Touro Synagogue in Newport Rhode Island to this day valuing the Jewish communities participation in this country’s founding.
I had a gig in Philadelphia a few years ago and when I walked outside of the hotel, there was a statue of Haym Solomon, who helped fund the Revolutionary war and died penniless afterwards. We simply do not have that history anywhere else in the world. Even after the founding of Israel, the majority of Jews stayed in the United States and it took decades before Jews in that country outnumbered Jews in America. Why do you think that is? It is simply because when it comes to the Jewish Diaspora, the United States with all of its faults, is the greatest country in the world, hands down. There is not even a close second, especially if you are Jewish.
Part of that is because we get to fire back at anti-Semites when they start and are not afraid to do so. It’s also because the vast majority of Americans will be on our side. I’m sorry, but some stupid teenager spray-painting a swastika on someone’s garage is not a “hate crime” in my book. It’s a confused teen being stupid and is not the beginning of fascism taking over.
In Billings Montana, when a brick was thrown through the window of a six-year-old Jewish boy’s window when he displayed a menorah in it over Chanukah, the town responded with ten thousand people putting menorahs in their own windows. Can you fathom that occurring in any other country in the world? Can you laughably even imagine it happening anywhere in Europe?
If my friend Joseph decided to suddenly legally change his name and tell me to just call him “Eph,” I’d honestly think he was having a mental breakdown and certainly not take anything he had to say from that point on seriously.
And when I think about history, you know who I always look towards? NBA players. I find them so wise. Why would anyone take anything Kyrie Irving has to say seriously other than how to break down a defense on a fast break? Now you might say, “But these people have a lot of followers! They are influencers! They have a platform to spread hate about Jews!” True, but there are plenty of people who have platforms back and have called the two of them and many others spreading stupid nonsense out on it.
There will always be anti-Semitism in the world. There’s a great book called “The Devil That Never Dies” about anti-Semitism by Daniel Goldhagen. I highly recommend reading it. Once you realize it will always be here, the only solace, at least that I find in it, aside from obviously having our own Jewish State to fight against and speak up about it globally, is that I live in a country that isn’t Jewish where I can do the same. And when I do, not only will I not be beaten up or jailed for it, a vast majority of non-Jewish Americans will stand right there with me.
A few months ago I went to something called the NRB, the National Religious Broadcasters. Try to imagine AIPAC for Christians. That’s essentially what it was. I wrote a film about the Exodus through the eyes of the women and, being a Bible story, most of the producers on the project ended up being devout Christians. It’s a big media schmooze fest for film and content in that arena, and the producers thought it would be a good idea for me to go. The Ministry of Tourism for Israel has a booth there; I bumped into Sabbath-observant Jews who were selling Jewelry from the Holy Land, etc. I also attended the “Breakfast Honoring Israel”.
There were a thousand people and it was sold out. A black pastor went on stage and sang Hatikvah perfectly, and the whole morning was a giant love fest for the state of Israel. The Israeli consulate attends also. Now, before you question their support because they just want all the Jews to convert so the Rapture can happen, keep in mind that most there don’t even know what you’d be talking about. That’s a common misconception and spreading that around should be stopped. I sat next to a Pastor from Oklahoma and when I brought that up to him I remember him saying, “We can’t stand those guys! It undermines what we are trying to do.”
No matter what your politics are, is there another country in the world where millions of Christians support the Jewish State to that extent? Do you think they agree with anything Kanye or Kyrie Irving had to say? They support Jews and Israel because for them the Bible says, “Those who bless them will be blessed, and those who curse them will be cursed.” Who am I to argue?! And… only in America!
Should we respond back to anti-Semitic nonsense floating around social media? Of course. At the same time though, maybe we should thank God every day that we live in America where we can do so freely, and that even with Kanye’s and Kyrie’s comments, I felt no less safe walking to a synagogue today than I did the day before.