Celebrity Anti-Semites Cannot Be Absolved through Private Apologies

Recently Mort Klein of the ZOA engaged Ice Cube in a two-hour conversation that was treated as an act of absolution for the anti-Semitic rapper. Whereas in 1992, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer Mort wrote how “major rapper Ice Cube pleads for violence against Jews to ‘get rid of that devil. Real simple. Put a bullet in his temple. Cause you can’t be a n***** for life crew with a white Jew telling you what to do,” this time Mort was convinced, according to JTA, that “the rapper was not anti-Semitic.”

Whereas, according to JTA, Ice Cube has “drawn widespread condemnation after repeatedly tweeting anti-Semitic images and support for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has disparaged Jews over the years, including comparing them to termites,” it appears this conversation has granted Ice Cube clemency for a long and disturbing history of Jew-hatred.

I’m sure that Mort’s intentions in the call were noble and I do no question whether we in the Jewish community should be doing outreach to those whose hatred might be reversed. But I am increasingly disturbed at the growing number of celebrities granted clemency for public racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry through private conversations rather than public penance. If Ice Cube wants to repudiate his long history of anti-Semitism he must do it in the forum where that Jew-hatred was uttered: in public.

And this is true of the long and growing number of haters who cacophony of anti-Semitism is become dangerous.

Recently, influential Rapper and producer Jay Electronica told his nearly 400,000 followers on Twitter — among them Barack Obama — that Jews are “imposters” and black people the “true children of Israel.” He also described The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper as a “DEVIL” before capping-off his nearly all-caps tirade with “#SynagogueOfSatan.”

Jay Electronica has recorded songs with Chance the Rapper and Travis Scott and his most recent album features Jay-Z on eight of its ten tracks. The album offended some with its sickening rhyme: “And I bet you a Rothschild I get a bang for my dollar / The Synagogue of Satan want me to hang by my collar…” The Jew-hatred was balanced out by the album’s nonstop Jewish biblical imagery — including references to Moses, Ezekiel, and even the rapper’s claim that it was “recorded over 40 days and 40 nights.”

While cultural appropriation is frowned upon, Jewish cultural themes are seen as universal — or, more accurately, free for the taking. For thousands of years, the Jews have been something of a rock-quarry used by the world to pilfer ideas, property, and even lives.

The Jewish Sabbath became Sunday, the one Jewish God became Jesus or Allah and the Messianic era of world peace was  transmuted into Armageddon. The Jewish prophets’ vision of world peace laid the groundwork for globalization and the UN. To the extent that these ideas serve the betterment of mankind, we should be glad they are shared.

Sadly, the cultural banditry didn’t stop at our ideas.

Jay Electronica now joins a squad of leading cultural figures waging a concerted campaign to hijack Jewish nationhood, giving whole new meaning to the words ‘identity-theft.’

A-List rapper Wiley told his 940,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter that Jews were “snakes,” “cowards,” at “war” with black people, responsible for the slave trade — he even suggested we deserve to be shot. He also compared Jews to the KKK and warned the “Jewish community” that “Israel is not your country.” Like Electronica, Wiley is hardly a fringe figure. He’s recorded songs with Idris Elba, Future, and Ed Sheeran.

Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson — with 10 million followers on Instagram — claimed to be of “the real Children of Israel,” and called on black Americans to foil white Jews’ “plan for world domination.” To back up his claim, Jackson erroneous quoted from Adolph Hitler whom he depicts as an activist for human rights.

Aside from the inconvenient fact of Hitler having murdered six million Jews, he was an arch-racist who claimed in Mein Kampf that black Germans, or “Rhineland Bastards” as he called them, were imported by Jews with the “aim of ruining the hated white race.” Germans of African descent were subjected to medical experiments while others forcibly “disappeared.” Yet former NBA star Stephen Jackson rose to Desean’s defense on Instagram saying, “The Jews are the richest. You know who the Rothschilds are? … They control all the banks. They own all the banks.”

Pop-icon Nick Cannon also repeated “true Jew” claim in an anti-Semitic podcast discussion he aired himself. Interviewing “Professor Griff” Griffin — ejected from the rap group Public Enemy after blaming Jews for “the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe” — Cannon went on to explain, “You can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people.”  Griffin, in turn, blamed his misfortunes on the villainous “Cohens and the Moskowitzes” who control everything. Cannon also spoke about “giving too much power to the ‘they’ — and then the ‘they’ turns into the Illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds.” (This Jew-smearing session was also well timed for Cannon who just released a single named “Madoff.”)

Most of this “true-Jew” talk spewed from the sewer that is the mind of Louis Farrakhan, arguably the most high-profile anti-Semite in the United States. Having popularized the “Synagogue of Satan” slur, he calls Jews “termites” and claims we are guilty of grand theft Israel.

As far back as the second century, theologian Justin Martyr declared, “the true spiritual Israel … are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ.” Both Christianity and Islam have adopted secessionist theologies, a new “chosen people” who replaced the inadequate Jews. (The term “Synagogue of Satan” is used to describe Jews in the New Testament’s book of Revelation.)

Still, there’s a difference between claiming to be the ‘new nation of Israel’ and the ‘true nation of Israel.’ The former is disparaging to Jews, but the latter rips us from our roots.

Heroic voices like NBA greats Charles Barkley and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weighed, in along commentators with Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon, to condemn the remarks, and Pittsburgh Stealer Zach Banner posted a series of video messages supporting the Jewish community.

They were the exception, not the rule. Most of this Jew hatred has gone unnoticed and unpunished.

A few thousand Jews and Jewish allies took a 48 hour walkout from Twitter, effectively leaving the platform in the hands of the anti-Semites they’re trying to obstruct. Twitter’s management slapped Wiley with a seven-day suspension. Considering Twitter banned a feminist writer for life for referring to a trans-woman as ‘him,’ the suspension was a joke.

Desean Jackson was given clemency after posting a forgettable apology addressed insultingly to his Jewish managers and team-owner and only then the general community of Jews. He didn’t even bother to ask the forgiveness of the six million martyred Jews whose memory he disgraced. He did a video session with holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg, whom I know and respect, but who lacks the power to right a wrong of this magnitude.

Cannon was ousted by Viacom, but managed tostay on the air with Fox, where he still hosts The Masked Singer. He also won a few high-profile defenders, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, who publicly offered Cannon a new job on his own station.

When Jews are the targets, haters make their way back in the world’s graces with incredible speed. It’s as if Anti-Semitism paves itself a path to absolution.

These latest attempts to rob us of our name have got be the line. Instead of rushing into dialogues and granting errant clemency, we should demand public penance and repudiation of vile anti-Semitic words.

About the Author
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values Network. He is the author of Judaism for Everyone and 30 other books, including his most recent, Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter@RabbiShmuley.
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