JERUSALEM, Israel – The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) released its annual report on anti-Semitism, and the situation is not looking good. In fact, anti-Semitic incidents worldwide have become a sweeping trend.
According to the report, 2022 Top Ten Worst Global Anti-Semitic Incidents, the SWC put American rapper Kanye West (aka “Ye”) at the top, saying his actions released a “tsunami of hate.”
The Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper explained why. “This is a man, before everything fell apart, (who) had over 50 million individuals between Twitter and Instagram; over 50 million people when he spoke, people bought whatever item it was that he was selling. Unfortunately, for reasons we're still not sure, at a certain point, he turned his attention to vilifying the Jewish people,” Cooper said.
West made many anti-Semitic comments last year, and during a December interview, praised Adolph Hitler, saying, “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”
Rabbi Cooper says this behavior injects hatred into the mainstream.
“You have people saying – some of the black extremists saying – ‘you're not even the real Jews.’ We love what Hitler did. He went after you because he knew who the real Jews were.’ Now anyone who has any education knows that the Nazi ideology was all based on racism and you know, given the opportunity – God forbid – if they had won, imagine (what) would've happened to black people.”
Concerned about the spread on social media, Cooper went directly to Elon Musk following the billionaire’s acquisition of Twitter.
“In this new free speech, non-censorship era, that he would find a way to deal with extremism and hate speech targeting – not just Jews, but all groups.”
According to the report, FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed that some 63 percent of all religion-based hate crimes in the U.S. target Jews, who make up only 2.4 percent of the U.S. population.
“You have now in many, in the recent hate crimes in the last few days and weeks, we see spray- painted, ‘Kanye was right.’ It used to be ‘Hitler was right.’ So, we have seen already the weaponization of those words into deeds. It’s been a horrific year.”
The January attack on a Texas synagogue by an Islamic Extremist from the U.K. also made the top 10.
“(He) shows up on Sabbath morning at the Colleyville synagogue, comes inside, takes the rabbi and the rest of the people, they're hostage for hours because he wants to get the release of a prisoner at a federal penitentiary nearby who's a woman affiliated with ISIS. So that is not just a hate crime, that's terrorism,” Cooper said.
He believes local law enforcement needs additional support to be more responsive to these hate crimes.
“You feel that, especially in the larger cities – so, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles – where religious Jews have been accosted and attacked on the streets directly because some of the people doing those terrible deeds, feel they probably won't be arrested,” Cooper explained. “Not immediately, although there are cameras around and then if they are brought in by the (police), who are trying their best, you have cashless bail in New York.”
One of Cooper’s bigger concerns is what’s happening on America’s college campuses, where the students live in an atmosphere where Jews are demonized at levels as high as the United Nations, where there is much questioning whether there should even have been a Jewish state.
“Maybe (Israel’s) not a legitimate thing. They stole people's land. It’s apartheid, it's colonialism. And what it is, it's a nonstop, you know, asymmetrical war against the Jewish state, and in terms of the local Jewish community or students and sometimes faculty, they’re roadkill to these campaigns,” he said.
He emphasizes that the demonization of Israel is not in the U.S. alone.
“Others include the statements that are made by a variety of diplomats working for the United Nations, specifically (the) Human Rights Council, extreme anti-Israel bias; the new special rapporteur for Palestinians, a woman from Italy is an anti-Semite; and the problem there again it's human rights, it's the United Nations, and there is no price to pay,” Cooper said.
One high profile event happened at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin.
At one point, Abbas said Israel was guilty of 50 holocausts against the Palestinians. It took the chancellor a day to respond.
“There are millions of Europeans who want to believe –in fact, do believe – that what the Nazis did to the Jews in the 1930’s and 40’s, Israelis are doing to the Palestinians today. So, when (Abbas) gives that, he knows exactly what he's doing, who he's trying to reach, to, you know, promote, and spread another big lie and to do it in Berlin of all places,” Cooper explained.
Cooper points to the Abraham Accords as one of the biggest accomplishments leading to positive change because leaders on both sides were willing to take risks.
He said, “One of the greatest disinfectants for bigotry and stereotypes is you actually meet someone. You meet “the Other.”
Cooper says the Jewish people need allies to stand with them in this fight, and he adds the overall goal is to remove anti-Semitism from mainstream culture and put it back in the gutter where it belongs.
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