In 2022, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that in 2021 alone, there were 2,717 reported incidents of antisemitic behavior just in the United States, according to PBS.
PBS reports that when compared to the data from 2020, there was a 37% rise in reported antisemitic behavior in just one year.
According to Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL, there has been a rise in antisemitic behavior since 2016.
Most recently, rapper Kanye West, now legally known as Ye has been spreading antisemitic rhetoric on his social media and during interviews.
West tweeted on Oct. 3 that when he woke up in the morning, he was going to go “death con 3” on the Jewish community and that the “funny thing” is that he cannot be antisemitic “because black people are actually Jew… .”
West also shared a screenshot on Instagram of his texts with Sean “Diddy” Combs in which West stated that Combs was controlled by Jewish people, which refers to an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
During an Oct. 16 podcast, West stated, “I can say antisemitic things, and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?”
Since these tweets and comments from the podcast were made, West has been banned on Twitter, his attorneys have dropped him as a client, Adidas has ended their partnership with West, his talent agency CAA has dropped him, and a completed documentary on the rapper has been scrapped.
West was also dropped by Gap and Foot Locker and was escorted out of the Los Angeles office of the shoemaker Skechers on Oct. 26 after he engaged in unauthorized filming, according to NBC News.
His ex-wife, Kim Kardashian has spoken out against West stating that hate speech is “never OK or excusable” in an Oct. 24 tweet.
Other public figures such as Jane Lynch, Piers Morgan, and Julian Edelman have spoken out against West for his antisemitic behavior.
However, while many have spoken out against West’s antisemitic rhetoric, others have supported him.
On a freeway in Los Angeles on Oct. 22, an antisemitic hate group hung a sign that stated “Kanye is right about the Jews,” according to CNBC.
While the individuals who raised the banner stood behind it, they raised their hand in the Nazi salute. The antisemitic group also had a sign that read, “Honk if you know,” and another that promoted a video platform that streams antisemitic content, which is operated by antisemitic conspiracy theorists, according to NBC News.
West’s antisemitic rhetoric is not only unacceptable but it is also dangerous.
Auschwitz, one of the most well known Nazi Concentration Camps, was only liberated 77 years ago and during the Holocaust, the Nazi party systematically murdered over 6 million Jewish people.
However, the Holocaust did not just start overnight.
It started with hate speech.
Before the Nazi party began to deport Jewish people living in Nazi occupied countries such as Germany and Poland in 1941, the Nazi party began to spread hate speech while also enacting antisemitic laws starting in 1933 when the Nazi party took control of Germany.
The campaign #ItStartedWithWords is a Holocaust education campaign in which survivors can reflect on the moments leading up to the Holocaust to demonstrate how hateful language can lead to actions with unimaginable outcomes, according to the campaign’s website.
Holocaust survivor Abe Foxman told the campagin that the Holocaust did not begin with Concentration Camps, but “it began with words … evil words, hateful words, antisemitic words, words of prejudice.”
So while West and others may believe that he is a “free thinker,” he is far from it.
He is a bigot with a heart full of hatred and needs to be held accountable for his speech.
At this time, we must support the Jewish community by condemning antisemitism from public figures but also in our daily life.
Because as the campaign stated, it started with words.