Race and Ethnicity

The Need to Curb Black Anti-Semitism

An age-old malignancy is resurgent, particularly in the African-American community.

January 5, 2023

The Social Order

At a Hanukkah celebration last month, President Biden stated: “Today we must all say clearly and forcefully: Antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence in this country have no safe harbor in America.” But simply saying it, no matter how forcefully, does not appear to carry much weight against the increasingly evident support among many black Americans for ideas and voices espousing violence toward Jews. Black and Hispanic youth report higher rates of anti-Semitic views than among white youth on the alt-Right.

Unfortunately, much of the pushback so far treats the problem of anti-Semitism like an issue for classroom discussion, curable by tackling ignorance and rudeness. This approach doesn’t appear especially effective against the loose slurry of ideas borrowed from sources like the Nation of Islam and Black Hebrew Israelites, tinged by both far-left villainizing of privilege and far-right fears of “replacement” by minorities. Last week, when Anti-Defamation League head Jonathan Greenblatt sat down with prominent hip-hop radio DJs, he began with a careful defense of Jews spending time protecting Jews when blacks are also in need of defense. He responded to questions about the distinctions between public and private speech and about how to distinguish a benign “punchline” from an inciting “punch.” Scrolling through the more than 11,600 comments below the interview video, a theme emerges that suggests this conciliatory conversation didn’t land: that anti-Semitism is justified.

A few weeks ago, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving returned to the basketball court after his eight-game suspension for promoting the anti-Semitic film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America—and initially refusing to denounce anti-Semitism. Before his NBA reinstatement, Irving gave a 21-minute interview in which he spoke about how the controversy affected him: the discomfort he and his family have felt, how he loves all people, and finally, how he didn’t realize that it wasn’t safe to criticize certain groups. The “deep apologies” that he did offer focused on how thoroughly he was misunderstood, saying that he didn’t “stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is ‘anti,’ going against the human race.”


Categories: Race and Ethnicity

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