Rapper Kanye West recently tweeted, “I’m a bit sleepy tonight, but when I wake up, I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” We assume what he meant to say was “DEFCON 3” rather than “death con 3.” According to Wikipedia, DEFCON “is an alert state used by the U.S. armed forces (The defense readiness condition or DEFCON) which prescribes five graduated levels of readiness for the U.S. military. It increases in severity from DEFCON 5 (least severe) to DEFCON 1 (most severe), with DEFCON 1 signaling the outbreak of nuclear warfare.”
Why Kanye chose DEFCON 3 in his threat against Jews is up to anyone’s guess. DEFCON 3 is defined in military terms as “Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness.” The fact that Kanye desires to ready a force against Jewish people is alarming. In condemning his Antisemitic tweet, someone pointed out the irony that West has more followers (30 million) than there are Jews on planet earth (14 million). It’s a shame how uninformed Kanye is about who he’s going up against because Jews have been the guardians of our galaxy for millennia. They should be celebrated rather than maligned. Let me explain.
We’ve all looked for saviors at some point. Those who will protect and guard us against malevolence. Maybe that’s why we are captivated by comic book superheroes turned movie stars like Superman and Spiderman. Marvel and D.C. comics have created a multibillion-dollar industry and a worldwide audience waiting to be saved and rescued with each new movie installment. The fact is we admire these guardians of the galaxy.
Curiously, the makers of modern superheroes have been Jews. The most legendary hero is Superman, and he was created in 1938 by two young Jewish men, Jerry Siegel and Joseph Shuster. Jacob Kurtzberg and Stanley Martin Lieber created The Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America, Black Panther, X-Men, and Ant-Man, to name just a few. Most people know Mr. Kurtzberg and Mr. Lieber (both Jews) as Jack Kirby and Stan Lee of comic book fame.
Simcha Weinstein in his book, Up, Up, and Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero, speculates that Jewish values and ethics are behind the creation of the superhero – that the Jewish ethic of justice is the reason why Jews have led the comic book industry for years.
One thing for sure is that a core principle of Judaism is the guarding and protecting of human life at all costs – Pikuach Nefesh or the preservation of life. This foundational ethic in Jewish law has saved countless lives over the centuries. Before the Torah, people were forced to labor seven days a week without rest. The world can thank the Jews for the weekend because they unveiled G-d’s law of the Sabbath. The world can also thank the Jews for communicating G-d’s law that forbids taking a life through committing murder. Let’s not forget that Western law was built on the foundation of a Jewish ethical and moral worldview, and America’s Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were drawn from the natural law of the Noahic covenant. It was a concern for civil rights that led the Jewish community to join Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement. Think Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Dr. King in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
In his book, What the Church Owes the Jew, Leslie Flynn writes, “If an Antisemite decided to boycott all the tests and cures discovered by the Jews, he would certainly open himself to a host of serious diseases. Besides refusing Jonas Salk’s polio Vaccine, he would also decline the polio pill by Dr. Albert Sabin; the test to fight diphtheria invented by Bela Schick; the diet regime of Joseph Goldberger, which has fought pellagra to a standstill; blood transfusion made possible by the work of Dr. E.J. Cohen of Harvard; the Wasserman test for syphilis; the vaccine for hepatitis discovered by Baruch Blumberg; streptomycin discovered by Dr. Selman Abraham Waxman as an antibiotic; chloralhydrate for convulsions discovered by Dr. J. Von Liebig; and vitamins discovered by Casimir Funk.”
Antisemites like Kanye West would have to also refuse recent lifesaving inventions by Israeli companies like Watergen who invented a renewable source of fresh and clean drinking water to help thirsting populations around the world by extracting water directly from the atmosphere; HiSense who developed Babysense that alerts parents to respiratory cessation (apnea) in babies. This technology has saved the lives of over 600,000 babies from crib death around the globe. Netafim who developed drip irrigation technology to help the globe grow food in parched landscapes; Assia Medical Center that invented the Micro Robotic system that specializes in minimally invasive surgeries; XSight Systems that created FODetect Advanced Runway sensors to protect runways around the world from debris.
In her book, People Love Dead Jews, Dara Horn speaks of the Jewish religious scholars and prophets of God’s righteousness who perished in the Holocaust as the “guardians of civilization.” She’s right, of course. When G-d made His covenant with Abraham, He promised him his descendants would bless all the families of the earth. Ever since, there has been a calling – a chosen destiny – within the Jewish people to protect and preserve life globally.
The prophet Jeremiah speaks of our galaxy as a testament to Jewish destiny: “Thus says the Lord who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night…the Lord of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before Me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever’” (Jeremiah 31:35-36). The heavens confirm the guardians of the galaxy – those chosen to preserve and protect life – have always been and always will be Jews. Perhaps if Antisemites like Kanye West could ever come to recognize and appreciate this, the galaxy would be a safer place for Jews