The Rise of Antisemitism Fueled by Celebrities 

In recent months, a number of prominent celebrities, including NBA superstar Kyrie Irving and music icon Kanye West, have made antisemitic statements.  Not only are these statements part of a growing trend of antisemitic events that has been sweeping our country, but they have had the effect of increasing antisemitism, including incidents within our own school district.   

 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) defines antisemitism as “belief or behavior hostile towards Jews.”  History is marked by countless antisemitic events, including blaming Jews for having brought on the Black Death in Europe (and executing Jews as a result), the Holocaust, and Hamas leaders ordering attacks on Jewish leaders.   

Unfortunately, antisemitic incidents are not just a part of history, but they are continuing to this day.  The ADL estimates that in 2021, there were 2,717 antisemitic incidents. This number represents a 34% rise from 2020, and is a record high for antisemitic incidents. Clearly, antisemitism is a problem that is not only continuing in modern times, but is growing.   

Since Kanye, Kyrie, and other celebrities made their antisemitic statements, there have been a number of troubling antisemitic events.  On November 16, a Jewish cemetery in Chicago was vandalized with swastikas, the most powerful symbol of antisemitism, painted on headstones, along with the words “Kanye was Rite.”  On November 19, a man was arrested in New York City’s Penn Station carrying a gun and wearing a Nazi armband.  The man had previously threatened to attack Jewish synagogues.   

After basketball player Ryan Turell recently made history by becoming the first Orthodox Jew in the NBA G League, many people made antisemitic comments on the official Instagram pages for the league and the Motor City Cruise (Turell’s team, the G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons). Comments included things such as the following: “And they Gone make Sure he Gets In The League The Jewish ARENT messing around” and “y’all forcing this Jew thing Kyrie n Kanye was right.” 

Recently, the wave of antisemitism has been felt in our community. In November,  a swastika was carved into a tree at Lynbrook South Middle School. As a result of this, many Jewish members of our community feel threatened and worried that the antisemitism in our community will continue to rise. LHS junior Jack Haberman said, “I think it’s frightening, and I really hope it doesn’t continue. I hope it ends soon.” Sophomore Justin Haberman said, “Antisemitism has always been around, and it’s very scary now that it is on the rise again, especially in our community.” 

As a community, and as a society as a whole, we need to do everything possible to stop antisemitism.  It is unacceptable for celebrities to promote antisemitic views, as those views lead to hatred and possible violence.  Antisemitism is just another form of hate speech, which is an issue that impacts all groups within our community.  Alongside the swastika carved into the tree at South Middle School was the N-word, one of the most hateful words in the English language (directed at members of the African American community).  Eradicating all forms of hate speech is a fight that we are all in together.