From Kanye West to Social Media Threats: Antisemitism Rises Again in America


Article by Stella Bleiweis, Writer

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“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 [o]n JEWISH PEOPLE [.] The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew [.] [A]lso you guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda[.]” Rapper and producer Kanye West tweeted this on October 9, 2022. 

While many people and organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in the United States, have spoken out against Kanye West, some defended his antisemitic remarks. Recently, another celebrity who caused controversy after spreading hate on social media was NBA star Kyrie Irving, of the Brooklyn Nets. Irving posted a movie, implying his support for it, that contained several antisemitic conspiracies. After facing backlash, Irving was suspended for a minimum of five games by the NBA, and a few days ago Nike ended their partnership. 

Little Hate – Ashi Fachler, 2009

Celebrity comments such as these can have a huge impact on public opinion. In fact, there were rallies supporting the harmful ideologies spread by Kanye West. However, it isn’t just celebrities who are contributing to the huge increase of antisemitism in America: There have been many threats made toward Jewish people, and even instances of extreme violence such as synagogue shootings.

In 2018, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a shooter opened fire, killing 11 people. This caused panic in Jewish communities across America and forced synagogues to increase their security. While this shooting continues to loom over American Jews today, there have been subsequent threats toward synagogues in the years since the Pittsburgh crime. Another East Coast state, New Jersey, was recently in the news after someone made threats to a synagogue and Jewish citizens. Earlier this month, a young man, Omar Alkattoul, was arrested after these threats, claiming that Jews are the source of the most “hatred” towards Muslims.

Similar to Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, bigots used social media to convey these antisemitic messages, amplifying their impact. Social media is at the forefront of many of these antisemitic threats, including an incident in New York last month where a couple of men were arrested and found with weapons after making threats towards synagogues. Some incidents in 2021 and 2022 in New York were committed by extremist Saadah Masoud, who assaulted someone wearing a necklace containing the Star of David (a known Jewish symbol) and another person wearing a Kippah (a Jewish head covering).

In 2021, there was an extreme spike in anti-Semitism in the United States, which ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said could have been exacerbated by the Israel-Palestine conflict of that time. However, these attacks have been specifically targeting American Jews, and not necessarily supporters of the Israeli government’s policies towards the Palestinians. That year, the ADL reported a more than 34% increase in antisemitic hate crimes compared to the previous year, a shocking 2,717 crimes. The ADL has further informed that over the past six years, these occurrences have increased three-fold. In a speech delivered during the ADL Never Is Now Summit, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “A full 63% of religious hate crimes are motivated by antisemitism—targetting a group that makes up just 2.4% of our population.” 

Along with the above incidents, these statistics indicate that antisemitism in the United States continues to be a significant problem. While celebrities seem to face some consequences—such as when Adidas dropped its contract with Kanye West—thousands of antisemitic hate crimes continue to occur in neighborhoods throughout America.