Thank Ye Very Much

Oct 26, 2022 · 699 comments
Rory Storm (United States)
Of course antisemitism is not to tolerated. And yes, concerns about Israel’s injustice toward Palestinians can sometimes smuggle in antisemitism. Even so, efforts for justice and humanitarian governance in the West Bank should not be hamstrung or muted. To criticize Israel for its treatment of Palestine is no more antisemitic than criticizing the US for its racism is unpatriotic.
Marcy (West Bloomfield, MI)
Thank you for this very important essay. It stands in dramatic contrast to other commentaries on the matter of Ye and his blatant bigotry, including one in a different publication that basically asserted that Ye was targeted for his remarks because of his race, while white men (note – "men") were not treated similarly. The point of fact, as you indicate clearly, is that antisemitism permeates American culture and is often masked by pretending it's really "anti-Zionism" instead. Make no mistake: antisemitism, by whatever cloaks it masquerades, is still what it is. The antisemitism of the right wing may, in fact, be more pervasive than anti-Zionism, because of the Evangelical obsession with "the Rapture", when all Jews are gathered to the Holy Land and convert to Christianity. Make no mistake about it: this is an essentially antisemitic doctrine – "you're OK as long as you are part of our agenda". The right wing is NOT by any means the only repository of antisemitism. Nobody should cavalierly dismiss "Hymietown" or "Harlem on my Mind" events from the past: they are part of the backdrop for the bigotry we see in the Ye episode. Beyond this, however, the manifest antisemitism by the right wing is a disgrace and the fact that it hasn't been vigorously repudiated by the right wing commentariat is a stain on those who have chosen to ignore it. Anyone who really believes that the likes of Trump and his ilk are not antisemitic is either a fool or a liar.
Naples (Los Angeles)
The amount of historic, negative, focus on such a small group of people—as Mr. Stephens notes—0.2% of world population—how can this be explained? Thousands of years of it. The number killed in the Holocaust has yet to be replenished. Reasons anyone? Can we have a column on reasons? Thank you for this column, Mr. Stephens. The hypocrisy and violent groupthink on Israel has been craw-sticking for me longtime longtime. Seems to me the change came with some celebrities in the sixties—Vanessa Redgrave? Up until then, buses blown up on Tel Aviv streets went on tour, I remember, when I was a teen. The garnered sympathy turned into denunciation suddenly, seems to me. Seems, in retrospect, pretty sudden. What was the turning-point exactly, after WWII, I wonder.
Cp (Portland)
While much of this is true, our slide backwards to a place where hatred and fear of the “other” is not only more acceptable but used as a political weapon is almost solely the work of the GOP the past few decades. Intentionally using racism to drive a wedge in our society for the purposes of keeping power, despite being the minority now, is one of the most unforgivable things your party has done and I’m not sure that you will ever take responsibility for your part in that. That the man who has most recently stoked so much of that hatred, towards immigrants especially those of color, towards women, towards journalists (even suggesting they should be hurt and worse), and yes towards Jews, is not only of your party’s making but the GOP continues to support his brand of hatred to hold onto power, and continues to try to destroy our very Democracy for it. I will add one of the best things that you could do for the Jewish people, other than to hold the GOP accountable for weaponing division and hate, is to stop pretending that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Sorry but saying free Palestine is not an attack on your faith but a recognition that all human beings deserve to live without oppression. When you refuse to recognize this you do not help the cause of overcoming the systemic racism and misogyny in our world. The rise in anti-semitism is disgusting but the fight is bigger, to stop the dehumanization of any group to create fear and hatred in order to wield power.
Miles (Chicago, IL)
It is true that antisemitism exists on both the right and the left, and also true that certain currents of both Black and White nationalist thought are strongly antisemitic. It is preposterous, however, to argue that anti-Zionism is always equivalent to antisemitism. Stephens studiously ignores the many examples of the Israeli government's aggressive violence, lawlessness, and oppression directed toward the occupied Palestinian territories and their inhabitants. Many Jewish people (and non-Jewish people) in both Israel and the United States object to the actions of the state of Israel, carried out in the name of Zionism. The behavior of Kanye West and Tucker Carlson is clearly racist and awful, but it is also wrong to conflate an entire religion with the foreign and domestic policies of a national government. Denouncing antisemitism, wherever it occurs, is always right and necessary. Denouncing the abhorrent treatment of the Palestinian people by the government of Israel is equally righteous, Stephens' whataboutism concerning other violent regimes notwithstanding.
Jewish (American)
When people say “anti-semitism, mostly on the right” they completely miss the point. Progressives and Republicans only care about anti-Semitism when it happens on the other side. It’s treated as a political tool when in reality it effects all Jews today, in both liberal and republican spaces.
Trina (Indiana)
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people". Eleanor Roosevelt West comments were bigoted, outrageous, and reprehensible. The US press and its citizenry needs to return to comprehending, debating, and questioning polices that affect our lives. This fool 15 minutes should've never occurred in the first place.
Gxej (USA)
Bret is exactly right. And most of the comments here prove it. Very few are agreeing or even making the simple statement that antisemitism is bad. Instead, I see whataboutism referencing bigotry against other groups, attempts to link antisemitism to Israeli government policies, offensive actions by Hasidim, questions about what is a Jew, and all the usual excuses and justifications. Let’s be clear. Antisemitism is bigotry. There is no justification for it and never has been. Individual Jews may be bad people but most of us are not, and we the Jewish people are no better or worse than any other ethnic or religious group. What we have been is a convenient scapegoat for centuries, presumably because we are relatively few in number and therefore relatively powerless despite all the accusations of Jewish control over the media, banking system, etc. And when things are bad and an individual or a people are unwilling to honestly acknowledge their own part in their problems, they look for a scapegoat. Antisemitism is wrong, evil, and unjustified. No more excuses.
Anne (Boston)
Why does the press INSIST on lavishing attention on this sick, abusive individual? His deplorable statements and actions have been covered ad nauseam. Stop giving megalomanics the light, air, and oxygen that are helping too many of them have outsized influence in our culture.
Shaun Hervey (San Diego)
An Academy Museum of Motion Pictures that doesn't showcase the the Warner brothers, Adolph Zukor, Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer? That would be like the National Museum of African American History and Culture not showcasing Rosa Parks. Or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not inducting the Beatles.
Armo (San Francisco)
The first and I expect the only time I have ever agreed with a Stephens opinion column. Keep trying though Bret.
Remember Moab (NYC)
Here's a thought experiment: Ask your most flamboyantly presenting non-heterosexual friend to visit both Tel Aviv and Gaza without changing their appearance or mannerisms. When they return, ask them which territory shares their values and which territory progressive activists should target to change their ways.
Raccoon- (Seattle)
On the topic of Israel, I have seen pro-Israel people saying that the UN's disproportionate focus on it is an example of antisemitism. Perhaps the UN's unique role in its creation has to do with the ongoing concern? But I do agree that criticism of Israel in general is often myopic.
GL (North NY)
And yet Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, chose the ultra right Hungarian president, Viktor Orban, as a keynote speaker this year in Texas. Terming Orban's speech "stupid and dangerous", the International Auschwitz Committee called on the EU to continue to distance itself from "Orban's racist undertones and to make it clear to the world that a Mr. Orban has no future in Europe"…yet Mr. Trump and his forces deemed Orban a fit keynote speaker. Actions speak volumes about intent.
Bok Joy (Cleveland, Ohio)
I think the problem will cure itself. Kanye suffers from Elvis syndrome. No friends only sycophants. Sad.
Jack Nargundkar (Cary, NC)
Ye has taken his role as a voluntary spokesman for conservatives too literally as he goes about shouting (metaphorically) in what he believes to be an ultra-liberal media town square, "Hear Ye, Hear Ye!" So, he seems to want to attract attention by spouting antisemitic slurs and other anti-establishment nonsense. In the Trump era, conservatives have found it easier to counter the dominance of what they call “the mainstream media” by propagating their own brand of “fake news” and trash talk. It’s an indictment of our democracy and social media (which seemingly empowered individuals to exercise their First Amendment rights) that we can longer engage in civil discourse amongst ourselves. Ye is among the worst examples of this gross abuse of our First Amendment rights. One would have thought the recent conviction of Alex Jones for such horrendous behavior might give celebrities pause for thought—but apparently not! President Abraham Lincoln’s wise counsel comes to mind, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” Do you hear, Ye? Do you hear, Ye?
Kidcanuck (Canada)
I don't agree very often with this columnist. However, I'm 100% with him here...and I'm not Jewish. For those who have a tendency to minimize the existence of antisemitism or to think that it would not lead to undesirable outcomes, may I suggest Leon Feuchtwanger's stunning prophetic novel, "The Oppermanns", written in the early 1930s, depicting how Nazism penetrated German society. Antisemitism (and other forms of racism) is stupid, unfair, and cruel. Period, full stop.
Bored (Connecticut)
My; a hornet’s nest has been kicked up by an opinion piece about hate. I do continue to be shocked by how people think. Negative commenters seem to be fixated on the positions taken in Palestein by Israel as a reason for disregard for your editorial. What I have learned about hatred as an “ism”, is that grouping everyone of an ethnicity, sex, race, belief into one group and apply to all for the sins or errors of a single or few. Just because I have white hair doesn’t mean I should be persecuted if another person with white hair does something wrong. So with a Jewish person living in Brooklyn shouldn’t be held accountable for actions taken by a Jewish person halfway around the world. Maybe I’m messed up here, but supporters of the kind of actions taken by a musician really need to rethink their arguments.
Midwest (Midwest)
Thank you again, Bret Stephens! You are the most articulate voice chronicling what is happening regarding antisemitism today.
Anush Apetyan (Look me up)
"that they would not host any speakers who support Zionism,... .... its intention to exclude, say, a speaker who believes in trans rights." So, are we to believe support of Zionism, which is an exclusionary movement, to supporting trans rights? That's like saying a club that declares itself as Whites Only is worthy of the same respect as a club that is for gay rights.
Alison (Pelham)
Ye want def con 3 and has been taken out in a responding strike. Perhaps there’s a lesson there for neoconservatives like Mr. Stephens and Max Boot.
NJ81 (New York)
It is unfair to conflate anti zionism with antisemitism. unfair and illogical to conflate politics and religion. or to combat antisemitism with islamophobia. i stand with my jewish friends. i hope they also stand with me when it comes to justice and human rights.
Doug (Boise)
good article; now how about an article about the displacement of palestinians. has or has not isreal treated those palestians displaced by the creation of isreal fairly or not? were rightful property owner's property siezed legally and if so on what basis? not immediately but it would be nice to know what the truth is; if it's discernable.
Stephen (St. Louis)
Even if Israel didn’t exist, there would still be anti-semitism. That’s why Israel had to be created in the first place, as a state for a historically stateless people who were not welcome anywhere else, and that is why it must continue to exist as a state for that group of people. (Plenty of other states have official state religions, by the way, this is not unusual. Israel is not a “theocracy.”). Anti-semitism didn’t arise in response to Israel’s actions, and to suggest that it will go away if only Israel treated the Palestinians better, as some commenters do, is disingenuous. Sure, all criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians in the West Bank isn’t necessarily anti semitism, in theory. But in practice, this type of criticism is often wielded by anti-semites as a convenient justification for their hatred of Jews. And that’s what Stephens is saying. And to respond to that reasonable assertion by defensively shouting “but it’s ok to criticize Israel, who are you to tell me it’s not” when the subject is antisemitism against Jewish Americans, is certainly off topic and smacks of protesting too much.
Fennario (Buffalo)
If anyone needs a primer on how bad anti-Semitism was in the USA prior to WWII may I suggest Rachel Maddow's podcast "Ultra". It also highlights how the Trump crew's sedition was not original or unique.
edward strelow (san jacinto)
I think there is both traditional anti-semitism which I abhor and contemporary anti-Israel sentiments, which I share. It is appalling that Stephens cannot to acknowledge the evil being committed against Palestinians by Israel. I grew up with the Exodus (the movie) version of the founding of Israel with the rights of the Palestinians being respected and this was nonsense. The establishment of Israel after WW2 was an act of rank colonialism which would never be tolerated today. Imagine creating a state which favors one ethnic group and which officially discriminates against other religions. It was a simple solution to the holocaust but one which has caused immense problems for decades with the Arab world.
Matt Price (San Francisco)
"Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one." as much? really? here of all places, in this editorial, a "both sides" argument does not ring true.
Paul Spletzer (San Geronimo, Ca)
One of the ‘Comments’ states that antisemitism is a foundation of Christianity. He should bone up on his ancient history. Ancient Assyria, Egypt, Rome, etc., all before Christ, conducted genocide against Jews. Until St. Paul conceived a better marketing plan, all followers of Christ were Jews. The Old Testament has praise for but one non-Jew, Cyrus the Great of Persia. He gave them refuge. The people of present-day Iran would not be so kind. In the examination of any issue, interrogatories are asked: How, when, who, where, and why. The first four are apparent. In any discussion on antisemitism, the ‘why’ is shunned for, if asked, the speaker is silenced. He or she is called an antisemite; someone who is attempting to place causation upon the oppressed. Understanding prejudice allows for remediation, and that could be a good beginning. The ‘why’ is crucial to understanding. The door to intellectual honesty has to be fully opened.
db2 (Phila)
Too much O2.
Mitchell myrin (Bridgehampton)
Important and well written article from Mr. Stephens today. 2.4% of the population and yet over 50% of the hate crimes. That sounds about right to me. And Bret did point out which most people in the New York area know, that the majority of these hate crimes against Jews are perpetuated by “people of color“. It is very tricky to go down that road in our new woke environment however the facts are the facts.
Retired Teacher (Florentin)
Israel like all countries is both good and bad but unlike all other countries it seems that the world is always poised, just waiting for Israel to do anything that anyone anywhere can consider to be wrong. That’s why criticism of Israel always morphs into antisemitism. Israel has nothing to do with Ye’s vicious and dangerous antisemitism. And where are the paragons of virtue such as Al Sharpton, the Squad, the leaders of the Women’s March and even the enlightened Duke and Duchess of California in the Ye mess? If they have spoken out I apologize but I didn’t see that. Kudos to Bret Stephens someone with whom I often disagree on other issues.
abj slant (Akron)
"Honest would be coming to terms with the extent to which anti-Zionism has become the antisemitism of our day..." I equate Zionism to nationalism. Both are lazar-focused on agendas that exclude all other considerations. But make no mistake: being anti-Zionist is not necessarily being antisemitic. Just like genuine patriots would have no use for nationalism. In fact, I don't know how anyone can honestly claim to be a patriot AND a nationalist.
Jerry Mander (Ohio)
"Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one." I think Bret just adopted Trump's Charlottesville logic of "both sides".
Patrick (Las Vegas)
It's the leveling of 12 story apartment blocks with missiles in Gaza in response to 'rockets' that amount to little more than over-stuffed fireworks that stretches sympathy for some. Once your moral authority is surrendered - it is very hard to get back. Being called antisemitic for legitimate criticism of Israel's policies also doesn't help.
suejax (ny,ny)
Bret, Why would you give free publicity to this obviously very sick person. Everyone needs to boycott him, and maybe he'll get some help.
MD burbs (Maryland)
If these constant attacks were against any other group ( blacks , women, hispanics, gays and lesbians, immigrants, etc.) there would be no hesitation to condemn the hate. But the same standards are not applied to Jews. It is not a surprise to me that Jew hate expresses itself in so many ways. Go to youtube. Almost any video on Israel, the only Jewish nation in the world situated on the historical lands of the Jewish people, or Jews in general will have the majority of comments expressing Jew hatred. As a gay, American Jew I have found that there is a lot more hate toward me as a Jew over my 73 years than as a gay man though the amount of hate toward gay people is not to be dismissed at all. The reality is that in poll after poll, Americans say that they would be far more comfortable to have a gay, black, woman, hispanic even atheist President than a Jew.
Jack Lee (Santa Fe)
Am I the only person on the planet who doesn’t know who “Ye” is or what he does?
Henry G (California)
Ye has made “offensive” comments about different groups including African-Americans. Don’t y’all remember when he said “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people. Where’s the outrage? It’s okay when he says “offensive” things about African-Americans but when it’s another group it’s not okay? Miss me with all this hypocrisy.
Lawrence Bentley (Westford,MA)
Stop amplifying West and stop calling him Ye; this is exactly what he wants
Dan (SLC, UT)
It is a shame that people fall into the stupid ideas around antisemitism. Instead of looking at themselves, these people want to find a mythical person or group who has supposedly wronged them. It is failure of responsibility and self-awareness and a sickening disease. To my Jewish friends and family, I love you. There is no greater friend to Democracy, Capitalism and the Arts than our Jewish brothers and sisters. I will stand with you until I can no longer stand. Thank you for the gifts that your people have given the world. Shalom
Aspen (Dutchess County, NY)
Anti-semitism is nothing new to me - I experienced it my whole life and it generally reared its ugly head unexpectedly. I heard it from all types of people Europeans, American “white” people (Christian I presume) and oftentimes Latinos. Rarely from Blacks though (except those street proselytizers). It always struck me as deeply hurtful as much as when someone would make a racist comment to me about Blacks or Asians or anyone else, theoretically the other. Why someone would assume I was sympathetic or collaborative in their hatred towards others was part of the shock and disgust experienced in the moment. But alas now it’s become trendy again to pick on the Jews because of Trump, the Republicans, MAGA and the newly emboldened White Supremacists or people like Ye who fall somewhere in the middle of “where did your racism originate from?”…
Slann (CA)
Today we learn little ole Ye wanted to name an album after Hitler, who he admires (!). "If it's not one thing, it's another thing." Committing social suicide seems to be his M.O. As someone who has toured Auschwitz, I recommend Ye take his personal jet to Poland and take the tour, preferably given by a survivor. I doubt he has the courage.
Gaius (Tampa)
And yet some Jewish mega-donors support the Republican Party, in spite of its blatant anti-Semitism, simply because it supports Israel. They effectively give Diaspora Jews little or no value, but put Israel above all else. Has the new Trump-dominated GOP denounced the anti-Semitic attacks mentioned in this article? Nope. Has the flow of cash from some wealthy Jews to the GOP stopped? Nope. Has the government of Israel denounced Trump and the GOP for coddling those vicious anti-Semites? Nope.
Don White (Atlanta)
who does YE think is going to back his clothing line now?
Paolo (Denver)
West is an opportunist as well as a victim of his own making. If you watched the interview on Cuomo's program West sounds to me like a spoiled middle schooler...complaining about not being acknowledged as a billionaire and a victim of the record business, and various other complaints. Poor little rich boy. He wears the typical MAGA victimhood like a pro, but sometime in our lives we have to grow up and put away childish things. Some make excuses for him because he is supposedly bipoler. Well, there's a pill for that. No excuses.
Asher Fried (Croton-on-Hudson NY)
West and Trump are both attention hounds who seek publicity under the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity… or even enough publicity. They get the attention from the haters they appeal to…and then deny their mere words that our Constitution permits them to utter are the cause of particular violent acts. They are equally dangerous because the inflammatory kindling is out there…and they carelessly throw out the matches.
Steven Pettinga (Indianapolis)
Love him or dislike him, Ye is an interesting, flawed; but a man with the courage to speak his mind. Up until the last month or so, he was an entertainer who had a knack for making and accumulating great wealth & respect. As he admits he is bi-polar, and I have known several people like him in my life. Things, ideas & thoughts just pour our of his head unfiltered to his mouth. If you don't like what he is saying, don't pay attention. Yet, Bi-Polar individuals are some of our most creative thinkers and doers. We just have to take that into consideration when you find someone like him says something "offensive". Like many people, they are on a spectrum of 1 to 10. In a way most of us have similar traits. Should we hate them our ourselves? No. We are all human and capable of being wrong or right. That he is being stigmatized by his business cohorts, his ex-wife, and many of his friends. One learns to hold a measure of doubt in their judgements. I wish Ye, all the best. I'm sure he will come down to earth soon. He does not deserve the punishment society is ladling upon him. I admire his accomplishments, his need to say what's on his mind, and his interesting point of view. Our country and society has many individuals like Ye,; we need to try to understand where they are coming from. They don't need fixing. God Bless you YE. - Steven Pettinga, Indianapolis
David M (California)
@Steven Pettinga Ye's anti-semitic statements are offensive and unacceptable. The statements must be unconditionally condemned. Whether and how he should be punished by society is a separate question. DM
Tess (Earth)
@Steven Pettinga Isn't it funny how the same people who are condemning Ye were quiet when Trump was in office. These days, it is offensive to state the obvious. An entire industry should not be shielded from scrutiny just because it is run by a protected group of people. Under these circumstances; anything goes....but I guess I'm just stating the obvious.
Steve Hunter (seattle,wa)
@Steven Pettinga Bi-polar disorder is not an excuse for his anti-Semitism. The guy is a jerk and yes I am one who chooses to ignore him and certainly don't respect him.
Pamela (Dallas, TX)
Thank you, Mr. Stephens.
Stephen (New York)
I'm Jewish, and I deeply regret and worry about the growth of antisemitism in the United States and around the world. I'm Jewish, and I deeply regret that Israel functions as an occupying power, treating nonJews as second-class citizens. I also regret that Stephens will not give an openminded account of the Palestinian conflict. Antiantisemitism becomes another form of discrimination and oppression. He can do better but refuses to try.
Millenial female (NYC)
I agree with a lot here but the way Stephen's poses the question "is Isreal so uniquely evil that it doesn't have a right to exist?" implying people that don't support the Israeli state are just anti-semetic is wrong. You can oppose Isreal as a state and support Palestine because you are anti-colonial, anti-oppression, pro human rights. Stephen's inserts this fallatial argument within the broader correct point that anti-semitism is common/ ignored. The restrictions Palestinians live under within Israel is a uniquely nightmarish system of oppression not seen anywhere in our world today. That is something that shouldn't be ignored either.
Scott (Long Island)
@Millenial female Part of Stephen's point is that Israel faces condemnation where other state actors who do the same or worse escape notice. The world forgets that the West Bank and Gaza have only been occupied since 1967, and the PLO was founded in 1964--not to end occupation but to destroy Israel. And while the Jordanians and Palestinians controlled Jerusalem, Jews were totally forbidden from visiting their holy sites (without no international protest) while the Palestinians carted away all evidence of Jewish history in the Old City.
Jafar (Cleveland)
The Palestinians have lived under the same military conditions since 1948. In 1948, 700,000 Palestinians were kicked out of their homes and became refugees. The UN Security Council passed a binding resolution granting them the right to return when the war ended. Israel refused. There were 300,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after its founding. They were placed under military rule (until 1966), in the same conditions as the West Bank and Gaza after 1967.
Stian (Norway)
@Millenial female To be sure, there is a clear point about human rights violations in Israel. But everybody should be held to the same standard. The restrictions Palestinians live under within Israel are the *least* oppressive of any in the region. To wish for the non-existence of Israel as a state is in practice to wish more harm on absolutely everyone, Palestinians especially! Israel is the closest thing to a lawful, respectful, democratic state for thousands of miles in every direction. That being said, I do hope Israel's leaders halt the wanton settlement policy, reassess a two-state solution and in any case take measures to make sure the enfranchisement of the non-citizens they entrap within their borders.
Jacques (Partout)
Anti Semitism is always wrong. So is “Islamophobia”. I look forward to Stephens discussing the latter in the same detail and the deliberate misinformation spread about the alleged threat posed by Muslims in the US. Anyone who has seen for themselves what he refers to in New York City can understand it’s not quite as he describes it.
terry brady (new jersey)
Everyone needs to visit Israel and walk in the Old City. Being in the Israeli environment is good for the soul and understanding humankind. From the moment you arrive the complexity and beauty of life is omnipresent and seeps into your being. The history and pattern of ordinary life envelopes every moment and the people you meet have story to tell. Jerusalem is spectacular and the world cannot properly exist without the multinational caretakers of the city. Antisemitic anything mischaracterizes life on earth and thank goodness for Judaism and keepers of the 4000 years of teachings.
DK (Princeton, nj)
Remember Judaism is a religion and an ethnicity. If one is Jewish, one’s DNA is from one of the sub groups of Judaism, ie Askenazi. This is distinctly different than being Christian. One could have a high percent of “Jewish” DNA but be an atheist or a Christian, etc.
Walter J. Ullrich (Fresno)
Stephens has always been the op-ed king of n=1 generalizations. Please provide a bit more evidence for claiming, "Honest would be to acknowledge that anti-semitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one."
Watching (US)
Jeremy Corbyn was the UK Labour Party leader. In the 2019 general election, Labour lost in a landslide to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives. Communities that had voted Labour forever voted Conservative. Jeremy Corbyn was leftist, and an outspoken antisemitic and socialist. Yes, there’s antisemitism on the left, in Europe and in America. Corbyn was sent away, and Keir Starmer tried to root out the antisemitism in Labour. But antisemitism is insidious, on the right and on the left. It’s growing in major universities now.
Luke Glowiak (Illinois)
Bret, add to your list of capitals MOSCOW.
D (Long Island)
I don’t buy into any messages that propose killing individuals of a certain group/gender/ethnic background. No one wants to be targeted, yet, it has become blatantly obvious that most of the targeted groups have their own silent exclusionary rules. Everywhere you look, people of a similar ethnicity congregate and exclude outsiders. It happens at work and in social circles. I was delighted some months ago to see an article on how cultures highly persecuted in history are equally as judgmental of anyone that they perceive as "below" them or should I say, not them. I have always been naïve enough to think that everyone is friendly - but life experience has shown me otherwise.
Jean Toomer (People’s Republic if Brooklyn)
@D I just had someone who calls my job everyday -- a nice older lady who is lonely and wants info on what her ex-boyfriend and his new common-law wife are doing tell me that while she likes me she could never be seen with a black man (even if I'm 28 and she's in her 70s) because that would be the talk of the town. I asked her if she could be seen with a white man and she said yes. So, why is it that if I were a white gentile I'd be acceptable company but as a black one I'm not?
Will (Murohreesboro)
I agree that there is antisemitism on both the left and right. It’s a total horseshoe of an issue, a rare one on which both sides of our current seemingly immovable divide can see eye to eye! But, I do note that the people pointing it out seem to be on the right. Sure, mostly as a way of critiquing the left, but I will take it. (Criticism from the left of the right tends to focus on other forms of bigotry). I don’t agree with the right on anything, but I do agree that antisemitism in this country is increasing, and I do appreciate people like Mr. Stephens for calling attention to it.
Josh (Pittsburgh)
"...they would not host any speakers who support Zionism, a move that is tantamount to the exclusion of most Jews." This statement makes me feel doubly excluded. I stand as a proud temple-going Jew, with a bat mitvah'd daughter and plans to visit Israel within the year, but I am not a Zionist. We are far from a monolithic people, and Israel is a democracy made up of a plurality of perspectives. I appreciate the important work being done by your essay today, Mr. Stephens, but I fear it may be further entrenching us in what is essentially a false binary.
jt (Boston, MA)
Mr. Stephens easily rebukes the rants of this unhinged celebrity figure. The offending comments are so outrageous that they don't even deserve a response - attention is all that Ye is seeking. However, in his opinion piece, Mr. Stephens also groups anti-Israeli or pro-Palestininan movements with the unacceptable anti-semitism displayed by Ye. This common approach of categorizing any and all anti-israeli criticism as anti-semitic actually hurts Israel in the long run. I know many Jewish people who don't hesitate to criticize Israel for civilian deaths due to indiscriminate bombings and never-ending territory grabbing and settlement expansion. That kind of self-criticism is what is needed to move us beyond the current impasse. Let's spend less time putting the spotlight on figures like Ye and more time on the actual barriers to lasting peace and co-existence.
C. Bowling (Atlanta GA)
@jt Thank you, jt, for expressing my feeling about Mr. Stephens' labeling as anti-semitism any and all serious and justifiable criticism of those in the Israeli government or population who allow -- even promote -- actions against the non-Jews in their midst. As a Black woman, I would never consider it racism if anyone harshly criticized a despicable black or African government or any Black group that allowed the kind of behavior that the Israeli government allows or the actions in which it often participates. Jews must be as careful about claiming that something is anti-semitic as Blacks must be about claiming that something is racist.
Jan (MI)
@jt ...."This common approach of categorizing any and all anti-israeli criticism as anti-semitic actually hurts Israel in the long run." NAILED IT!
Debra M. (Syracuse)
@jt Anti-Jewish sentiment existed long before Jewish people had any reason to criticize the nation of Israel for bombing Palestinians.
Seth (Israel)
A brief thought. The critical remarks of the piece appear in many cases to make the case for Bret. We have people on the left attacking the attack on anti-Semitism because of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians that often include tropes that exaggerate Israeli actions and ignore actions by Hamas, and then on the right there are those claiming that Jews do co troll too much or have too much influence. Interesting, as aJew living in Israel and working for the betterment of Palestinians living inside Israel, I recognize the policies that are oppressive and hope we can rid ourselves of such policies, but I also understand Israel’s need for security. I also watch with horror how a Pennsylvania candidate for Governor can make derogatory comments about a Jewish candidate sending his kids to a Jewish private school, something other religious affiliations do without facing such comments. One things seems clear, in America the most inclusive of all democracies, even today the intersectionality that both some on the right and on the left with significant voices and following is that Jews are an issue. We are 15 million people in a world of nearly 2 billion Muslims and 2 billions Christians, and have been excluded from European countries, like England, Ghettoized in Italy, thrown into forced labor camps by the Soviets, executed during the inquisition on the Iberian peninsula, about a third of us, and lost half or more to the Holocaust. Yet AntiSemitism is alive as ever.
HM (Maryland)
The fact that this is the sort of American that people listen to probably says all you need to know about the country. Until our quality and moral sense improve, we deserve what we get.
Debra M. (Syracuse)
@HM Speak for yourself. "We" don't "deserve" "Ye."
Paolo (Denver)
@HM Couldn't agree more.
Grateful (This Planet)
I feel Kanye should be canceled and forgotten. It's a shame that politicians (incumbents + those yet to run...) will suffer far less recriminations and *cancellation* in the court of public/voter opinion.
Peter (Houston, TX)
Several years ago, I was approached by a young Black girl, about 10 or 11 years old, who asked me, "Why don't White people like Black people?" I was taken aback but answered her question as follows: "The problem is that people learn their prejudices at home. They hear negative comments from their parents about one or more groups and those comments are repeated by other family members, friends, neighbors and even teachers and preachers. If you never have the opportunity to actually meet and become friendly with people in those groups, you assume everything you've heard bout them is true and you act accordingly." I then said, "I know how it feels to be the target of prejudice. I was raised as a Jew and have been the target of insults, threats and abuse." The Black girl looked shocked and said, "You don't like black people!" I asked her why she said that and she replied, "My Daddy says Jews don't like Black people!" "Miss", I said, "Didn't you understand what I said about prejudice being learned at home?" She repeated, "My Daddy says that Jews don't like Black people!" I tried to explain my history of Black neighbors, Black friends in school, Black dinner and Black overnight guests at my home, and my children's history of being on sports teams and scout troops where the majority of the other team and troop members were Black, but to no avail. "MY DADDY SAYS THAT JEWS DON'T LIKE BLACK PEOPLE!" A mind is a terrible thing to waste. A prejudiced mind is a terrible thing.
Jean Toomer (People’s Republic if Brooklyn)
@Peter I'm not going to lie. I'm starting to feel something akin to what I want to call black guilt and I wonder if other black people are beginning to feel it as well. While prejudice against black-Americans is as American as apple pie. So many people (Jews in particular have been so understanding given their history in Europe as the outcast) have no issue with black people and even want to treat us as equals. But, due to certain historic treatment, mistreatment -- although sometimes it's just straight up prejudice -- they feel like this group (or everyone) hates them for being black when they don't. I'm sorry for every instance in which that happened to you. Maybe a colorblind society is a good thing.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Peter: If she became introspective she will have figured it out by now. People who project seldom take in anything.
Peter (Houston, TX)
@Peter There is more I need to say. My liberal racial beliefs are a result of my birth. I was born in 1942 with two birth defects: a cleft palate and a cleft lip. The cleft lip was simply stitched together leaving me with a scar on my upper lip and a facial distortion. The surgical practice at the time was to wait until I was 13 years old before I had corrective cleft palate surgery. I could not talk clearly until that surgery was done. Looking different, being unable to talk clearly and being small made me an easy target for bullying, insults and threats all the way through junior high school . But I noticed that the guys bullying me also went out of their way to bully and insult the Black kids in my classes. Or rather, they verbally harassed and threatened the small Black girls and only insulted the Black guys behind their backs. The bullies were afraid that the Black guys could fight back. I realized that the Black kids and I were being attacked for something that we could not change and was central to how we viewed and defined ourselves. That realization and the unfair abuse made me feel a kinship and solidarity with Black people that I continue to carry. I also stand up for any group or individual being insulted or attacked for something, anything, that they can't change. I make an effort to befriend and stand up for my friends, neighbors and coworkers whether they are Asian, Black, Muslim, or any other so-called "minority" group. Are you willing to join with me?
Hermes2 (Port Townsend, WA)
I have not read enough of Bret Stephens to know what he means by Zionist, so cannot be sure how much criticism of Israel, in any, he thinks would be acceptable; or what kinds of criticism he deems to be antisemitic. But I hope he is not equating criticism of the settlements in Palestinian territory with antisemitism. If he is, he calling my wife and many Jews I am acquainted with antisemitic. It is possible to be Jewish, to have a strong emotional attachment to Israel, and yet feel that some of Israel's policies are unacceptable. Ye, on the other hand, is not opposing a policy. He is attacking a people. This is very different. It also needs to be said that the evangelical "support" of Israel is clearly anti Jewish. While they are waving the Israeli flag their goal is to convert Israel to Christianity.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Hermes2: Zionism is a movement to establish a Jewish homeland initiated by Jews in Europe who were subject to sporadic pogroms in the 19th Century.
Sparky (NYC)
I have two kids at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On the first day of classes there were 7 separate chalkings filled with Jew Hate. The University did everything they could to downplay it and went to great lengths to acknowledge the importance of free expression. Other persecuted groups-- Blacks, Latinos, Gays, Women, Trans, etc. did exactly nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. If the chalkings had expressed antipathy for ANY other group, we all know the response would have been completely different. Why?
Karen (LA)
If you want to be even more alarmed, read the comments on the articles about Kanye West. The hate and violence expressed toward Jewish people are unfiltered. We have so many “education” programs at the many Holocaust museums, thousands of students learn about history and intolerance. They incorporate programs about prejudice and intolerance towards minorities. Where are their voices? The only positive in this most recent episode is that people and corporations have stood-up in public to denounce hate. But as for those online comments and “kitchen-table” talk, there are reasons for concern.
ABC (New York)
Many people dislike the conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. I want to introduce a further element of nuance. Anti-semitism and criticism of Israel’s government or policies are not linked in my mind, but anti-Semitism and “anti-Zionism” are. To be anti-Zionism is to want to displace millions of people with no thought of where they should go. It is also to make excuses for organizations who are explicitly genocidal in their intentions towards Jews and Israel. Two nations have legitimate rights to the same land, and both have acted atrociously and unproductively towards finding any resolution. Anti-Zionism is the belief that one of these two nations simply has no right to exist and should vanish into thin air. I’m a liberal, secular Jew with plenty of problems with Israel, and am appalled by the situation in Palestine but to me “anti-Zionism” sure sounds a lot like anti-Semitism.
@ABC "To be anti-Zionism is to want to displace millions of people with no thought of where they should go." That is your own personal definition. I am "anti-Zionism' if it means stealing land from indigenous people and treating them badly; if it means allowing the Jewish religion undue influence in government and law; if it means American Jews supporting Israel to the point where they will throw democracy under the bus and elect a tyrant like Trump because they think, "He's better for Israel.) Israel is not some hallowed place of refuge. It is a country like any other - full of self interest and willing to use any ruthless means necessary to achieve its goals.
Anush Apetyan (Look me up)
"...on the receiving end of 54.9 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes" An interesting slice, but what does it include, just hate crimes against muslims and jews? I suppose it was sliced this way to exclude the much larger number of hate crimes against Asians? And what percentage of the overall hate crimes does it represent?
Jhon (Charlotte)
Quite right in many ways, but Mr. Stephens, you are not in any way helping to discuss intersectionality. Instead, you use other minority groups merely as rhetorical tropes, and that is dehumanizing.
CC (San Francisco)
Can we please cancel Kanye West? It happens to all kinds of people who might not deserve it, but I feel pretty good about this one.
Dan (Laguna Hills, CA)
Mr. West has managed to rip the lid of yet another of America’s creepy “Pandoras Boxes.” It will stay off unfortunately but with the help of people like Mr. Stephens perhaps we can address a problem that has persisted here since WWII at least. The only positive in this debacle is that people are beginning to take a stand at long last. As the German-born grandchild of Holocaust survivors, Kanye West and his ilk make my blood run cold. The only comfort to be derived here is that he is quite efficient at destroying his image and career even if some firms, that’s you Adidas, were slow at doing the right thing. And, I hope that no one attempts to turn the fool into a martyr.
Ovid (Tokyo, Japan)
It's a pity all the media attention ye's late-night tweet is receiving. In the article Stephens links to about cut footage he talks about how Jesus was a Jew and he is a descendant of Israel, and then says that "fake children" are at his house manipulating his children. Now Adidas is ending a $246 million/year partnership with Ye. It all seems pointless. He should just have been ignored. His tweet should just have been ignored and not given such a long tail.
Cameron (USA)
I would argue that "High Levels of Crime in Minority Neighborhood Lead Police Officer to Kneel on Man’s Neck for Eight Minutes" is a fairly accurate summary of approximately 1/2 the headlines published by this and other major newspapers in response to police violence against Black and other minority populations. Anyway, antisemitism is awful and should be aggressively combatted.
ANdrew March (Phoenix)
Bigotry in the form of antiSemitism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny... are common, and instead of being socially and legally discouraged, are thriving because they are politically useful. From 18880's Jim Crow to today's politics attacking the "other" spending $billions feeding resentment is a winning move, used to justify voter suppression, police brutality, and all forms of discrimination, keeping the rabble fighting among themselves while the rich make out like gangbusters. AntiSemitism nay be the oldest prejudice, but it's just one part of the divide and conquer strategy.
Ron (Bronx)
Love you Bret. Don't always agree with you but good on you for writing this.
Elizabeth Bennett (Arizona)
This has to be one of Bret Stephens' best columns ever. He certainly reminded me that anti-semitism is alive and well in our country, although I don't agree that "Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one". I wonder if Mr. Stephens is conflating the Democratic Socialist Party with the Democratic Party. While I don't know why this ugly phenomenon persists, I suspect that ignorance is at the root of anti-semitism. We have large swaths of America where the only source of information is Fox News, and where most people don't read much and where Republican governors cut funding to education. As for Kanye West's opinion--who really cares what he says?! He should be punished for hate speech as would anyone else.
Robert (Around)
My grandmother was born in 1898 and my parents in 1916 and 1926 respectively. They told many stories of over antisemitism they faced and grew up with. I learned about the broader history in Hebrew School. I have encountered it many times. No one can tell so you get to hear all the anti-jew stories, comments etc and even casual ones from friends who do not even recognize it. My view is freedom of speech is messy. At the same time I am well trained and know self defense laws. In the end Never Again works only if you are will to stand your ground.
Rich (California)
The hypocrisy surrounding anti-Semitism from society as a whole and, especially from the holier-than-thou "woke" side, makes my blood boil. It's OK to be bigoted against Jews and to hate Israel because, well, Jews are white and successful. That's it. And "white" Israel is not allowed to defend itself against constant attacks from all sides because they're hurting non-white people. It would make great satire if not real.
Dr. Schroedinger (CEERS-1749)
@Rich Sorry, but your argument is confusing. I am not supporting, in any way, the so-called BDS movement. But it is not aimed at Jews because they "are white and successful", rather it originates from an Arab Pro-Palestinian viewpoint of presumed Israeli discrimination against Arabs, and the "expulsion" of Arabs from Israel in the '47 war, and subsequent wars, and now from expansion of housing in prior Arab areas of Israel to make way for increasing Jewish immigration. Yes, it completely ignores the existential threat to all Jews in Israel. As for the antisemitism of the white right in this country, well that is still based on ignorance. And if they believe "Jews will not replace us", I have two words for them. NEVER AGAIN.
Carlotta (Orange Beach)
@Dr. Schroedinger we AiN’t got no calculator at our sorry run down school - all we got is your daddy’s ole hand me down slide rule
Brad (Brooklyn)
This was a great article until you equates Zionism with Trans-ness. Comparing a core component of one’s identity, one’s personhood, with a political ideology barely qualifies as specious and, to me, borders on transphobic. Further on you ask the reader to compare leftist American attitudes toward the state of Israel to the same attitudes toward repressive regimes in Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, and elsewhere. While there is some truth to the argument you imply but fail to actually make (that perhaps Israel is singled out for vitriol over these other bad actors), you offer zero additional context. Could these negative attitudes from the American left have to do with our government’s support of the Israeli regime? Could the creation of the state of Israel, which grew from late-19th and 20th century European settlers, differentiate it from, say, Iran? Finally, can you please provide some sources to back up your claim that by refusing to hear from Zionists, groups at Berkeley have essentially banned Jewish people from coming to speak to them? How many Jews identify as Zionists? I really wanted to like your op-Ed. The premise, that Kanye West’s statements have revealed deep veins of antisemitism in the country that we would probably rather not be aware of, is a good one. But I find your supporting arguments questionable at best and offensive at worst.
Joshua Mack (NYC)
@Brad Indeed, but the statement that Israel was created by “European Settlers” misses the point that Europeans at the time did not really consider Jews European and subjected them to deep anti-semitsm, attitudes that came to a head under the Nazis. Come to think of it, Venezuela, the US, and all Western Hemisphere countries are the legacy of European colonialism. At some point Israel needs to be seen as a legit country, perhaps especially of its origins.
Shoe (Syracuse)
Thank you for bringing my attention to the piece by Henry Louis Gates Jr. It seems like no on talks about the two divergent currents that Gates talks about, multi-culturalism and Afrocentric isolationism. This silence leaves the impression that influential isolationist voices speak for a monolithic Black American vision. Worse, it leaves the paradoxical impression that multi-culturalism and Afrocentric isolationism are the same thing, and so multi-culturalism suffers distrust that is actually engendered by the opposing current of Afrocentric isolationism, in a case of cultural mistaken identity. I'm glad Gates was talking about it 30 years ago and I'm glad you amplified his voice today.
AynRant (Northern Georgia)
Ye and all other bigots deserve condemnation, not thanks! Ye's antics call attention to his own insufferable behavior, Do not confuse Zionism and antisemitism! Zionism is reverse antisemitism, the contention that Jewish people must live separately from non-Jewish people. More specifically, that Israeli Jews should not allow non-Jewish people to live in the territory of the former British Protectorate of Palestine. Zionism is not sufficient justification for discriminating and persecuting Palestinians in their shared homeland. Millions of Jews live peacefully in mainstream societies with non-Jews in North America, Europe, and Israel. Small communities of fundamentalist Jews do live in semi-isolated but law-abiding communities. Antisemitism is the modern term for prejudice again Jews. Curiously, both Jewish and Arabic people are Semites, descendants of Abraham in the legends of the foundation of Judaism and Israel from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.
@AynRant I suppose that you should be aware that the Christian Bible does not predate Israel or other Palestinian history.
Matt (Oregon)
This discussion goes nowhere until an honest dialog can be had without the label of anti-semitism being immediately thrown. When Israel does something wrong, as all nation-states do, accusing the accuser of anti-semitism, regardless of merit does more damage to Israel's credibility over time. Same goes of anyone of the Jewish faith that breaks the law or does something wrong.
sasha (Wa)
@Matt this is standard woke procedure, I must admit.
Josh (Texas)
"Or take the law school of the University of California, Berkeley, where nine student groups announced in August that they would not host any speakers who support Zionism, a move that is tantamount to the exclusion of most Jews. " Can we say this is a bit of a reach?
Gondar (Africa)
What is interesting is that defenders of the zionist state always point fingers at others. [Or is it the unique evil of antisemitism that directs this kind of obsessive hatred at one state only — while generally ignoring or downplaying the endless depredations of regimes in, say, Caracas, Ankara, Havana and Tehran?]. What kind of moral logic is this? Would it have been fine for the WW2 fascist losers to say, well, after all, every empire does bad things, look at what the British Empire is doing over there...what kind of moral logic is this in defense of the indefensible?
R4L (NY)
This is why we need to have a secular society and government.
SeeSay (Indy, IN)
@R4L How would that work exactly? Would we ban all religion, and imprison and persecute those who continued to practice their faith, and who carried their faith into their conduct and decision-making? Or would we only allow non-religious people to run for office? I'm truly curious on how this would work. Would it be different from Stalin's USSR?
@SeeSay It's worked for centuries until faith based belief are enacted as laws for the rest of us. Separation of church and state is hardly a novel concept. Strange that you don't seem to understand that religious beliefs or practices have no place in determining what the laws that apply to use all are and there are no tests of religion to hold office. The point is that religion or lack of it have no place at all in government. The original comment doesn't suggest we persecute anyone. It reflects that our government is secular.
Alan (Florida)
Beyond creating scandal, Kanye West/Ye is talentless. Musically, he’s an embarrassment. It also appears he has mental health concerns that he has not fully addressed. Hopefully he’ll resolve his issues before he gets himself into deeper trouble.
The Pessimistic Shrink (Henderson, NV)
Someone here mentioned Ye's bipolar disorder. Bipolar doesn't diagnostically include anger, and it certainly doesn't include ugly and immoral beliefs. These come from character disorder -- personality disorder -- or childhood injuries that the person has never cared to address.
william j. (europe)
@The Pessimistic Shrink I am a child of a bipolar mom, and i have friends with bipolar disorder. anger is part of it. and the anger can go very destructive.
Tracy (FL)
I'm an atheist. I have no concern about religion. Jewish, Muslim, Christian: it's all the same to me. What annoys me about Israel has nothing to do with the religion of most people who live there, or their right to defend themselves (which I agree with, of course), but their treatment of the arabic people and Palestinians. It has nothing to do with anti-semitism, but I find that any critique of Israeli policy is met with "you hate the jews". No, absolutely, I do not. I know why it can be a reflex to react that way, because so many people are anti-semitic. But please don't lump in the rest of us for simply criticizing Israeli policy.
Eric (California)
@Tracy The reason for the lumping has to do with the curious pattern where many will take time to criticize Israel for its state sponsored religion and few will take time to criticize Christian and Islamic nations for having a state religion. I’m also bothered by Israel’s actions but I think they’re overhyped compared to the transgressions of the many Christian and Islamic nations.
SeeSay (Indy, IN)
@Tracy I didn't read where the author did this. But otherwise, I agree with you, though I'm not an atheist. We should be able to criticize and countries inhumanities, even our own, with being censored or labeled.
Tracy (FL)
@SeeSay the author did not; you’re correct. But many of the commenters on the other hand. It just gets to the point where anything you say to some people that is critical is perceived as anti-Jewish, which I most certainly am not.
Stephen Suffern (Paris, France)
A short question for Mr. Stephens. For him, is it possible to be anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic? My own position, as an American Jew who believes in the separation of church and state, is that no democratic state can define itself as “Jewish” (or “Christian” or “Moslem” or “Hindu”). As a firm believer in liberal democracy, the idea of a “Jewish” state - the Zionist project - is anathema for me. Palestine / Israel should be a secular state for all its citizens. And, given the irreversible occupation of the West Bank, the territory of that state must extend from the river to the sea. Antisemitism is a very real problem, but Mr. Stephens just confuses the question.
L S Friedman (Philadelphia, PA)
@Stephen Suffern I had no idea we Americans had the ability to dictate policy to sovereign nations. If that's the case, you need to spend more time convincing all the Arab nations surrounding Israel to be secular states too!
Fshapiro (Miami Beach)
Anti Zionism, as practiced is anti-semitism. Zionism is simply a movement to create a homeland for Jews. Sort of like France is a homeland for the French. The reason is to allow the Jewish people to live in peace and practice their beliefs. It is also to provide a refuge for diaspora Jews in time if trouble. I gets complicated. Sticking it in the Mideast seemed a no brainer. The region had not been autonomous since before the founding of Rome (Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Roman, Arab and Turk)-so nobody had too good a claim. And Jews lived there. And after WW2, when no country would accept Jews to save them from the Holocaust, it seemed like a good thing to do. The Arabs did not accept it, but things are sort of working out. But anti Zionists do not object to specific policies, they object to the concept. But there only justification is that the Arab claim is senior. But it isn’t. Personally, I oppose the expansionist view of Israel and I believe that Israel needs to create a good life for all of its citizens. But, since I also believe we Jews need a homeland as much as the Palestinians do, I am a Zionist. And if you are an anti-Zionist, I assume you believe that the rights of Palestinians trumps the rights of Jews and that Jews get what they get and should keep their mouths shut. Therefore, you are an anti-Semite.
John (Wisconsin)
@Fshapiro I would ask what would the Palestinian counterpart to Zionism that would be acceptable to the Israelis and allow for a Palestinian state in the West Bank? At the moment it would seem that all that is acceptable to Israel is Gaza as the Palestinian state and the West Bank is open game. I will add that any and all forms of prejudice, antisemitism, anti muslim, racism in all forms is not to be allowed if at all possible.
John (Wisconsin)
@Fshapiro I would ask what would the Palestinian counterpart to Zionism that would be acceptable to the Israelis and allow for a Palestinian state in the West Bank? At the moment it would seem that all that is acceptable to Israel is Gaza as the Palestinian state and the West Bank is open game.
Skeptical M (Cleveland, OH)
Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is endemic in all Christian and Muslim societies and culture. There was a young assistant professor at the University of Michigan from Israel whose very young daughter came home from preschool and asked her mother “Who is Jesus?”. When the mother asked why her daughter wanted to know, her child replied “They said I killed him”. In a nut-shell this is about all you need to know how and why anti-Semitism persists – it is ingrained and passed on from generation to generation. The fact is that the Romans killed Jesus but made sure that they would not be blamed.
K.Smith (Syracuse, NY)
Its odd that Jewish non-profits continues to support Republican Elise Stefanik and Trump, who don't openly condemn antisemitic remarks or actions.
Kenneth Schlossberg (Pembroke Pines Fla 33025)
At 83, I am increasingly disconnected from popular culture. I have no idea where Ye/Kanye/West came from, is or is going, or why anybody of sane mind pays any attention. I did see a couple of minutes of his meeting with Trump in the Oval Office and was totally mystified. I thought Trump was equally mystified but understood that the guy had a following and maybe it was a following that Trump could acquire by association. Popular culture used to be defined by one minute of fame; I think it is down to one second, here and gone. All in all, I remember watching Fellini's La Dolce Vita and the Intellectual professor. He commits suicide and takes his wife and children with him rather than try to survive the amorality and mindlessness. Kanye West could have been a face in the Dolce Vita crowd. Having said that I still have no idea what he said about Jews but if it was as absurd as everything else why on earth is it getting so much attention?
SeeSay (Indy, IN)
@Kenneth Schlossberg Because the man has a few million twitter followers and for some reason they get their thoughts from him and act on his hatred. That is the power of social media. It's the dumbing down-er of America.
millennial_who_loves_sunsets (San Diego, CA)
While it doesn't excuse his actions, it is clear he is very mentally ill and is seemingly losing all sense of reality without medication and treatment. This fellow bipolar survivor hope he gets the mental health support he needs before he claims he is Jesus reincarnate. And I hope he takes responsibility for his actions once he comes back to reality.
William (Atlanta)
The weird thing in all this is that Kanye has made an entire career out extreme misogyny. Every album he has ever released has called women all sorts of awful, insulting derogatory names. Yet he insults a religious group and he is canceled.
StartingNow (NOVA)
@William apparently then long overdue. How about Donald Trump's misogyny. Why aren't more outraged and voting to that effect?
Clare Molnar (Ferndale Michigan)
There is blatant misogyny displayed by many artists spanning across many musical genres. This is a problem, no doubt, but most of these artists are not spewing hate speech directed towards a vulnerable religious minority, and at a time of increasing rates of hate crimes against said minority.
Mitchell Baker (Massachusetts)
@William No one was cancelled. Held to account, yes, but certainly not cancelled. Those are two separate things.
Dylan (San Francisco, CA)
Anti-semitism is a plague on the world. Conflating anti-semitism with criticising Israel's human rights abuses is anti-semitic. The Jewish people I know and love are against genocide in all its forms. Israel's human rights abuses are different from abuses in Caracas, Ankara, Havana and Tehran because Israel relies on US material and diplomatic support for its continued existence and their actions are therefore our responsibility.
Mac (oregon)
Ye who or is it who Ye. I'm not sure even Ye knows but can a person really know Ye. Better to let the self immolation finish its course and wait for the smoke to clear.
Slann (CA)
@Mac Or simply turn away.
Fernando Aquino (New York)
As we continue to accept, embrace and sponsor mentally ill individuals as "normal" in the realm of politics, entertainment, sports, fashion, etc, they will continue to be successful in having a unchecked megaphone and impact in society. There is a larger problem out-there.
Philly-Girl (PA)
@Fernando Aquino Mental illness is serious and its impact on the individual and society need to be addressed in this country. However, mental illness cannot be an explanation, cover or excuse for outright bigotry.
Slann (CA)
@Fernando Aquino What were once outliers on the Gaussian curve, are now closer to the center. Not good. Not good at all.
Mercury S (San Francisco)
Speaking as a Jew, it’s perversely fitting that we are considered “white” on the left, and thus oppressors, and considered “not white” on the right, and thus subhuman. Only in Israel are we not The Other. However, I have to strongly disagree that antisemitism on the left and right is equivalent. Leftist antisemitism is mostly annoying because it is so hypocritical, given the hypersensitivity around any other minority group. It’s amazing to see BDS welcome members who do, in fact, want to see Jews exterminated, and get a pass on that because it’s a “big tent.” Or to condemn an anti-Semitic act only if you simultaneously condemn Islamophobia. But, as with so many other things, the right is infinitely worse. They are the ones shooting up synagogues, something Bret elides here. They are the ones shouting “Jews will not replace us” and wearing Nazi uniforms on an LA overpass. Bottom line, since the NYT commentariat is overwhelmingly liberal, I will direct my comments to this side of the spectrum. Again, I am Jewish. I am regularly lectured about what really “counts” as anti-Semitism. Would you argue with a black person or a Muslim about their experiences of racism? If not, why are you dismissing mine? Since I mentioned BDS, I may get some knee-jerk replies that criticizing Israel <> anti-semitism. If you are tempted to do that, please re-read what I’ve said here and really listen.
Jules (California)
@Mercury S Exactly right. How typical of Bret to make the two equivalent. Nuance and context, anyone?
cds333 (Washington, D.C.)
@Mercury S I agree with you to a point. There is much more antisemitism on the right than the left. But that's because bigotry is a feature, not a bug, in much of the right's policies and beliefs. Most of them are fine with antisemitism -- just as they are fine with misogyny and racism and homophobia. The left claims to abhor bigotry and regularly and roundly call out its own members who exhibit even a hint of any other form of prejudice. Indeed, some on the left seem intent on finding bigotry and punishing it, even where it doesn't exist. But I don't hear anyone on the left condemning Ilhan Omar, for example, despite the fact that she has made numerous public statements that are inarguably antisemitic. It is not that the amount of antisemitism on the left rivals that of the right; it is that the left seems eager to repudiate every form of bigotry except for antisemitism.
T Smith (Texas)
Anyone seriously interested in the foundation of the motion picture industry should read “An Empire of Their Own.” It provides a wonderful picture of how the business was founded by early generation Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century. It is very interesting.
Metaphysically Yours (North of the Vermont border)
I've mulled this over for a proper response but I don't know anything about Kanye West or who he represents. I do know Bret Stephens and have responded to his rants on many occasions. I often commented on GOP HATE FEST 1964 when HATE and INJUSTICE SEEKING became the GOP Mantra and the Klan marched in the Parking lot with Goldwater signs. I am not an American I am me. The USA is NO friend to Israel or Jews in general. Tit for tat has no ethical or moral foundation and the first question asked of us is: "Where is your brother Abel?" I want to know why a Kanye West whoever he may be when the GOP celebrated the martyrdom of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney with a Reagan nomination victory celebration in Philadelphia Mississippi. I am a Jew who knows America's small towns and villages where fear of the other is the only common denominator.
Leon (Maryland)
To the commenters who want to point out that other groups are also discriminated against, and maybe “worse,” (than threats of genocide? Hard to imagine), it’s not a contest.
JustMe (CA)
The silence of the progressive movement in response to antisemitism is deafening.
Robert Roth (NYC)
@JustMe That simply isn't the truth.
lg (Montpelier, VT)
@JustMe Yes.
Superchemist (Burnt Hills, NY)
First and most important, Bret, don't waste your time or energy on "Ye." Ignore him, as you should also ignore the former President. All they lust for is attention. Now, in my own opinion, the reason folks like that hate Jews is because they know they are a smart, educated people. I'm far from Jewish, but the smartest folks in high school or college were the Jewish kids. Also many doctors. They didn't get there via any special treatment, but just because they were smart and motivated. Hitler was jealous. So are so many today. Sad.
Debbie (Home)
There are smart, well-educated, and successful Jews. There are less smart, well-educated, and successful Jews. The Jews who helped found Hollywood are lumped in with poor uneducated Jewish families in Monsey. Yet both experience anti-semitism. Please be careful about making broad statements about ethnicities, even if you are putting them on pedestals. I see the same thing happening to Asians, and I think it’s dangerous.
jimerson (Seattle)
The Academy tried to write Jewish studio heads out of their museum's representation of Hollywood history? Someone had better pick up a copy of Neal Gabler's terrific 1988 book, "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood." It's a compelling history of how immigrants who believed in the aspirational "American Dream," and were eager to assimilate, put their visions of that dream into our movies and sold them back to us in quintessentially American style, shaping our own view of ourselves in the process. What could be more American than that?
Martin Brooks (NYC)
@jimerson : I think it's quite a stretch to equate the museum ignoring the founders of the film industry with them being Jewish and that the museum is therefore anti-semitic. The fact is that we don't know why they were ignored and the simple fact may be that the museum felt it was more commercial to have exhibits about current stars and films. It's not like the current film industry doesn't still have many Jewish executives. One of the topics discussed in the book is that the founders themselves pretty much kept their Jewishness "under wraps" and this can be seen in the many films they produced that pushed Christian themes. The book states that they purposely kept the Jewishness low key in order to avoid attacks.
What is the history of Hollywood ? Not so "modern cinema ".
Steve (SW Mich)
I put Ye in the same category as #45, Taylor Greene, Gaetz, etc: Outrage and exposure sells.
Shama (Seattle)
I'm gobsmacked by the negative tone of a lot of these comments. Is it because so many Jewish people have managed to be successful, against so many odds with centuries of persecution? They have an unusual number of scientists and artists, and have added immeasurably to the human experience/legacy. I do find it odd that anti-discrimination diatribes are not more even-handed.
Mor (California)
Thank you for this column. Jews are the primary target of hate crimes in the world. Anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Denying Israel’s right to exist is antisemitism. Blaming Jews for their own victimization is antisemitism. Historically, left wing movements were as antisemitic as their right-wing counterparts. All these are facts. I am a proud Jew and a proud Zionist, and I am not going to apologize for either. You don’t like it? Listen to some music by Ye; maybe it’ll calm you down.
Loyd W (Tacoma, WA)
@Mor It is not a fact that left wing movements were or are anti-semitic as right wing movments. There was no holocaust by left wing movements. Also, Anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism. Anti-Zionism is policy position rooted in the idea that being discriminated against in the past does not give one a license to oppress others in the present. Before I get some RWNJ talking about affirmative action, there is huge difference between doing what one can remedy historical injustices on an individual level and making whole classes of people second class citizens to preserve power.
Joe (New Orleans)
@Mor Antizionism is not antisemitism. Zionism is a political movement. Judaism is a religion.
Ellen (Winslow)
I am not a Jew. I agree wholeheartedly with every point in your comment. I am a college professor and I routinely hear “criticism of Israel is not antisemitism” as cover for wildly antisemitic remarks, often by the very people who run the EDI industry!
Jonathan Camp (Silver Spring)
Wow! Only a few lines devoted to right wing anti-semitism which was fueled in the past by Trump ("good people on both sides" ) at a Nazi rally and continues to be fueled by Trump ("Jews need to get their act together before it's too late"). There are many more quotes where those came from but history will document that the rise of anti-semitism in America started with Trump's Presidency. He unleashed the beast against Jewish people, African Americans, Latinos, Asians (look again at recent statements) and the numbers don't lie. Stephens is correct about Kanye and hopefully bigots like West have to pay the price, but let's not overlook where all this meanness started.
Jason (Chicago)
@Jonathan Camp I am sorry but I experienced antisemitism way before Trump. I know its easy to blame him for all of societal ills but he was elected because of his detestable views not in spite of them...
Jackson (Virginia)
@Jonathan Camp Liberals excel at misquoting Trump. Are you saying there was no hate before Trump?
sasha (Wa)
@Jackson Trump opened the floodgates - finally permitting folks to talk about "how they really felt" and "how it really is". He got the country to hang its dirty laundry out for the world, and he did it for the sole purpose of exploiting his voter base. He played y'all like a fiddle.
GROUCH (new york city)
There have been so many attacks on Jews by Blacks that I truly believe that a lot of Blacks are applauding Ye's (or whatever) stance in spite of the fact that so many Jews have been in the forefront of the civil rights movement. They just don't get it.
james devine (minnesota)
Who knew preaching hatred of Jews from "christian" pulpits for two thousand years would lead to such hatred? When the cult of Jesus formed I'm sure Jewish people never dreamed what threat it was to them. When I was dragged to Catholic services as a child in the 60's I heard over and over how the evil Jews freed the criminal and had Jesus killed. I'm sure it was the same in all "christian churches. Hate speech is what it was.
gkwest (Santa Monica)
One quibble about 'Take Hollywood, where the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened its doors last year with a panel dedicated to “Creating a More Inclusive Museum.” ' The Academy Museum may be about Hollywood, but it's not actually in Hollywood, it's in the Miracle Mile district.
@gkwest Hollywood as cinema industry has nothing to do with the area named "Hollywood " . MGM was in Culver City. Other studios is San Fernando Valley . The Academy of Motion picture is not located in Hollywood either.
Mask Of Comedy/Tragedy (Northeast)
I agree that anti-semitism is wrong. As any hate toward a particular group is wrong. But please let’s be very clear that the danger in the US is coming much more from the right (even Ye is a right winger). Progressives were not in the tiki torch carrying group in Charlottesville. Let us not equate criticism of international politics with what is very much happening on the ground within our borders. All minorities should be very very wary of what is emerging on the right. Elected Republicans talking about Rothschild laser beams and all sorts of weird fabricated stuff - this poses a very real danger within the country. If this is what the Republican politicians are saying in public imagine what right wingers are saying in private. Every time in my life that I have been privy to anti-semitic discussion in private spaces it has always been from people who vote Republican (and primarily those who are white and Christian). That is my personal reality. I don’t think it is unrepresentative of what goes on. So yes, call out the left when they say stuff (and generally the left apologizes), but please open your eyes to where the real hate is coming from. As I say, even Ye is on the right politically.
Jason (Chicago)
@Mask Of Comedy/Tragedy can we for a moment see that these issues are far more complex then our binary politics. You and I will never solve anything if we resort to refracting everything though political lenses. After we vote our job and influence politically pretty much ends. The way we will effect change it to call out hatred and bigotry regardless off where it is found, and not to gett stuck and bogged down with the politics of it all.
Sean (NYC)
@Mask Of Comedy/Tragedy Using the most ridiculous statements made by right wing politicians as an example of "the very real danger within the country", is not an accurate assessment of the Republican party as a whole, or even its majority. I am guilty of these same sweeping conclusions when I talk about crime and destructive leftist policies in that arena. But those generalizations are unfair as well. As is becoming more apparent by the day, (see Democrats flipping on crime as the midterms draw nearer) the majority of Americans, Democrats included, do not support this Defund the Police nonsense. Most Americans want more money for their police not less. We are all a lot closer in opinion then we think. I would venture to say you don't believe in defunding the police anymore than I believe in Rothschild lasers. A difference worth pointing out is Republicans did not implement policy on our most ludicrous statements. Democrats actually tried to defund the police.
Deplorable Pepé (Florida)
@Mask Of Comedy/Tragedy "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."
Debbie (Home)
Honest would be acknowledging that one can both know that anti-semitism exists and is wrong AND be anti-Zionism. I am a proud of being Jewish but also believe that the the current manifestation of Zionism is apartheid. People who can’t understand that it’s possible for both things to be true help create division among Jews. I don’t understand the black a white thinking.
wildwest (Philadelphia)
I always enjoy Bret's "thank you" notes. First President Xi, now Citizen Ye. He is tremendously skilled at honing his sarcasm to a fine edge. I am not a Ye fan and never have been. I do have sympathy for him regarding his mental illness, but that should not be used as an excuse to mainstream racial hatred. Of course there are many other prominent figures, especially in the GOP, who indulge in anti-semitism. I've always wondered how Republicans can pretend to support Israel, yet somehow manage to hold antismetic beliefs, use antisemetic tropes and issue thinly vailed antisemetic diatribes. Though often lampooned and made into a joke, this diatribe by Majorie Taylor Greene isn't veiled and displays her (and the GOP's) antisemitism on steroids; “If you want to win the war on Christmas, first you take out the person who makes Christmas possible,” said Greene. “As I speak, Jewish space lasers are being trained on the North Pole.”
Mason (Texas)
Great article.
Michael Ryan (Palm Coast FL)
My favorite example of 'perfect systemic anti-semitism' is a (long ago) headline in a French newspaper (after an attack on a synagog): " A number of jews were killed along with several innocent people". So ingrained! Michael
Jean Roudier (Marseilles, France)
@Michael Ryan This is no headline but the words of Raymond Barre, the French Prime Minister, after the explosion in front of the Synagogue rue Copernic in Paris (1980). With great class, Raymond Barre found regrettable that "innocent French people" were among the wounded.
Colin (Washington)
Prejudice of any kind is wrong. Anti-semitism is unacceptable. There is no excuse and Ye deserves all the payback that he's receiving. It needs to be said, though, that articles like this that conflate opinions about the Jewish people with the state of Israel are deeply problematic. It is entirely ethical and appropriate to be 100% against the bigotry of the the Israeli Government while standing shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish friends. Insinuating that Zionism is somehow equivalent to being anti-semitic is also entirely wrong. Zionism is the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Tell me, Bret, if you are consistently against prejudice, why don't the Palestinians have a right to peacefully exist in their own land?
Margo Channing (Nw York)
@Colin Thank you for this comment.
moishe (NYC)
@Colin Utter nonsense. You can be a believer in Zionism and still despise what Israel has done. Zionism is simply the believe that the Jewish people have the right to, and need for, a state of their own. You can be in favor of a Palestinian state and Palestinian self-determination and still be a Zionist. This is the equivalent of the right wing saying Socialism is evil because of what Mao and Stalin did.
Jason (Montreal)
Please carefully consider these questions: How many Jews live in the Palestinian territories of the west bank? How many in Gaza? Obviously, zero. How many Muslims live in Israel? 2 million. A one state solution for the Palestinians necessitates the destruction of 6 million Jews. Either a one state or two state solution for Israel includes millions of Palestinians in a pluralistic society. One that exists and functions much better than you know until you actually visit.
Jsutton (San Francisco)
This personage, "ye" should be ignored. What he wants is attention and publicity. Every article that focuses on him, positive or negative, is the publicity he seeks. Stop it.
Jim Madison (Philadelphia)
@Jsutton Agree. West wants the attention that comes from being purposefully outrageous. If he is ignored though, he may escalate. I'd say that media publicity should be focused on just the negative consequences that West faces, while ignoring anything that he has to say about it (which will continue to be outrageous and provocative). Of course, the media thrives on emotionality and scandal, so they would have to give up some money to maintain this strategy.
Julie (TX)
Didn’t he announce candidacy for President a few years ago? Remember his rally? He’s caught up in all the shock news and negative publicity is still publicity. And it sells. And we buy it.
Ken (Bronx)
Kanye West only started expressing antisemitic views when he joined the ranks of the far right. And so that's why this op-ed is mainly focused on the left. Makes sense.
Elizabeth (Massachusetts)
Conflating anti-semitism with anti-Zionism is lazy and dishonest. Israel's actions toward the Palestinians are indefensible. The settlements are illegal and immoral.
moishe (NYC)
@Elizabeth Conflating Israel's actions with Zionism is lazy and dishonest. Zionism is simply the belief that the Jewish people have the right and need to a state of their own.
Pragmatist In AZ (Scottsdale, AZ)
What’s immoral is that for 70 years Palestinian leaders have refused to make peace with Israel. There have been numerous negotiations with every one ending the same way: Palestinian rejection. Finally, other countries in the region are fed up with this, and are normalizing relations with Israel. The innocent Palestinian people have only there own leaders to blame.
Mary (Wisconsin)
@moishe: But Israel’s actions are what many are reacting to.
Steven (NY)
Excellent, Mr. Stephens. You’ve done a mitzvah by articulated the absurdity and hypocrisy against Jews.
David George (McCalla, AL)
"begin to have an honest conversation about antisemitism" Sure, now that we have concluded that honest "conversation" on race that people in high pay grades have been calling for these many decades, coming up on the century mark. LOL
LAMagazine (Battle Ground, WA)
Thank you!
MichaelSLC (Salt Lake City, UT)
O Ye of little faith...
Left wing antisemitism includes anti-Zionism. Zionism is the Jewish people’s indigenous movement for justice and has nothing to do with Palestinians. Zionism was created directly in response to antisemitism. 90% of US Jews are Zionists and the ones who aren’t are typically left wing tokens who frequently suffer from internalized antisemitism. This is a shame, of course, but most oppressed minorities always have some members who internalize outward bigotry towards them (think “Uncle Tom”).
David Weinberg (Minneapolis)
No Brett. As with Donald Trump, Ye has normalized anti-Semitism for the average folk. Reasonable, thoughtful logical individuals might believe Ye has exposed this form of racism. So the Unite the Right horrors in Virginia, the shootings in Pittsburgh and Trump’s innuendos and all of filth on the internet haven’t been enough the raise the issue with Americans? The only way antisemitism could cured is if Jews could lower gas prices to $1.00 a gallon, lower inflation to 2% and eliminate crime. No, that wouldn’t be enough.
Tryingtobemoderate (Seattle)
The left gets hit with the anti semitic monicker for criticizing the Jewish state. They also get criticized as anti american for not saying we live in the greatest country in the world and advocating for the teaching of our factual history. Do you see a pattern here? I didn't see a lot of BLM protesters chanting "Jews will not replace us". Next thing you know the right will be calling for the teaching of Israeli history without mentioning Palestinians.
moishe (NYC)
@Tryingtobemoderate No, the left gets hit with the anti-Semitic moniker when it's appropriate, such as singling out the Jewish state for criticism when it ignores similar or more horrific behavior by other states. There's a horrifying double standard.
@Tryingtobemoderate Right. It’s antisemitic to criticize the Jewish state. No brainer. If you have a problem with a specific policy of a particular government try critiquing the specifics of it.
Fester (Columbus)
Amen, Bret. And good riddance, "Ye."
2 words: Made in America! (New Orleans)
Odd that the media - MSNBC in particular- and much of the Democratic Party still embrace the likes of Al Sharpton.
Andrea (NYC)
@2 words: Made in America! If you actually watched Reverend Sharpton on MSNBC, you would know that he regularly denounces anti-Semitism.
Sam C (Denver)
@2 words: Made in America! Al Sharpton made mistakes and have corrected them. I met him in Houston once, and as a Jew, he was very kind to me and we were able to discuss how black and Jewish communities can help each other.
2 words: Made in America! (New Orleans)
@Sam C In 1991, Al Sharpton instigated a three-day pogrom against the Hassidic residents of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, in which a Jewish student was killed. A few years later, the reverend organized protests against a Jewish-owned business in Harlem, inspiring one protestor to attack the store, killing seven. He corrected those "mistakes"? He hasn't even acknowledged he was in error.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Mr Stephen- You should have devoted more space and commentary on what Tucker Carlson did by editing out the most disgusting parts of Ye’s racist rants but still showing him and giggling the whole time.
We are actually talking about a rapper that married a Kardashian? What did we expect? I don't believe anything Kanye West says/does should be commented on in the NYT's. West knows how to stay in the media......because his stupidity is easy click-bait to insert into a "news" website. And I just fell for it.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Kanye West didn’t speak about specific people and what his beef was with them- he tied them all under the Jewish umbrella and without any specifics used his platforms to tar an entire religion No apology could correct that.
Alan (East Lansing)
I take anti-semitism very seriously but it is hard to understand why anyone pays atention to this clown. But, then, I have the same difficulty understanding the fascination with Elon Musk.
Jason (Chicago)
@Alan Becuase whether you like him or not, Musk is the future to fossil fuel free cars. The vast majority of Tesla owners drive the cars because they are sexy and cool and not because they are energy efficient...if we want to save the planet its going to be when people want to I.e., its cool and/or affordable to make those smart choices.
Michael (In Real America)
Funny how it takes a black man being a conservative before the left suddenly "notices" antisemitism. Trading one favored group for another, or discriminating against an un-favored group while screaming loudly about any perceived slight against a favored one, does not make you virtuous my dear "progressive" friends. It makes you a hypocrite. It also makes you wrong and it makes you look silly thinking we don't notice.
Andy (Charlotte)
Interesting take. From my point of view, the reaction and cancelling of Ye shows that antisemitism is verboten in America (as it should be). No one is getting elected to high office by dragging Jews (thank God). Dumping on blacks, though, really does seem like a sure path to victory in many locales from sea to shining sea.
JoeA (Cali)
The NYT should implement a thumbs up/Recommend for articles. This article would be worthy!
Debbie (Home)
I give it two thumbs down. He confuses not supporting the Israeli government with being anti-Semitic and in doing so exacerbates a division between Jewish people rather than acknowledging a common enemy. Anti-semitism is wrong. Questioning the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians should not be lumped in with that. It’s a right wing and neoliberal ploy to pit Jews against each other. Resist it.
JoeG (Levittown, PA)
Honest would also include stopping the constant bashing of the city "liberal elites." As Ken Burns clearly discusses in his wonderful series on the Holocaust, blaming the liberal elites in the cities was a class anti-semitic tactic.
Pete (San Diego)
"...anti-Zionism has become the antisemitism of our day" The favorite rhetorical device of apologists for imperialism. There are principled reasons to reject Zionism or what we could call the Zionist maximalism of "from the river to the sea." Why conflate indefensible religious and ethnic bigotry (antisemitism) with any critique of the state of Israel's wars of aggression and its oppression of its enormous Muslim minority? Because smearing any critic of Israeli expansionism as an antisemite allows the imperial apologist to smugly ignore the human rights catastrophes of Gaza and the other territories that Israeli fundamentalists have stolen from their original inhabitants.
@Pete Israel does not occupy Gaza. You know that right? Minimizing and excusing Palestinian Arabs endless violent war against Israeli Jews while only singling those Jews out for criticism is antisemitic by definition. As for ethnocentric imperialism, look no further than the Palestinians whose only objective is to destroy Israel and colonize the entire state with a Muslim majority.
CarolSon (Richmond VA)
Jews are successful and have permeated the top rungs of almost every important area of American life. Hence, they can be hated and it's somehow "okay" because of that success.
Cavilov (Ca)
"In May 2021, Jewish diners at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles were physically assaulted by a member of a group that, according to a witness, was chanting “Death to Jews” and “Free Palestine.” While the "death to Jews" comment is offensive, the "free Palestine" is a legitimate beef with Israel (who define themselves as a non-secular state). As such, it seems to me unfair to hide behind claims of "antisemitism" to silence the criticism of that policy. Is all criticism of Israel off limits?
Jewish (American)
@Cavilov When the statement "free palestine" is paired with physically assaulting a random Jewish person who may or may not have any correlation with Israel, it is anti-Semitism. Don't try to paint it otherwise. Criticism of Israel is allowed, but anti-Semitism is not. I disagree with the conflation of anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism that Brett does in this article. However it is valid that very often anti-Zionism masks anti-Semitism, which sometimes becomes physically dangerous for Jews. It is possible to criticize Israel and not be anti-Semitic. That doesn't mean that it is impossible to be anti-Semitic and use anti-Zionist statements as a way to hide it.
Richard Kimball (Crested Butte, Colorado)
While there has been much press lately about Kanye or Ye, I, for one. can't name one song or identify one piece of clothing associated with him, his brand, etc....Now 73, during my college days, we listened to Richie Havens, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez sing songs about social justice, peace, etc. and so I shake my head at a person who wants to wear the confederate flag (what, slavery is a good cause) or subscribes to jewish cabal space later theories; Ye sounds like an idiot to me and it will be easy to exile him to oblivion....just stop writing about this mentally ill person!
Julie R (Washington/Michigan)
So Bret, it sounds like you are OK with Ye being canceled? Maybe you and Bill Maher can do a show about it.
VCUjayhawk (Richmond via Jersey)
As usual Mr. Stephens, you are overreaching and overstating to fit your narrative. The assertion “[Ye] you’ve probably done more to raise public awareness about the persistence, prevalence and nature of antisemitism than any other recent event” clearly overlook the recent comment made by the pompous ex-potus. Case in point, the orange guy was recently quoted as threatening “[American Jews to] get their act together [before] it is too late!” And, on his watch, while not in 2022, the world witnessed the Charlottesville incident and the same orange guy yammering about both sides being made up of “very fine people”. Why wasn’t the orange dude’s antisemitic dribble(s) an article spotlight for “the persistence, prevalence and nature of antisemitism”? And, your “honest” political opinions, are somewhat dubious given your continuous right wing position. But, news flash, the assertion that antisemitism is not “as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one” in 2022 is a doozy. While I hate that people have fed into the orange man’s dividing of America — with referencing ‘right and left’ and ‘red and blue states’ — for the past six plus years the Right have been hating on anything not maga-white. Have you seen FOX news lately dude?
LL (nyc)
Anti-Semitism is a very serious problem. As a Jew, this pains me greatly. However, with respect to Ye, all I can do is shrug and conclude that he is not mentally sane. The fact that he insults George Floyd and shouts “white lives matter” suggests that he’s not specifically targeting Jews so much as spewing all kinds of nonsense without forethought. Beyond his mental health, he does not seem very intelligent or educated. Which boils down to: crazy and stupid. Are people like that worth our time and ink?
Honest would include Donald Trump’s blatant and constant antisemitism. Why does Brett Stephens leave our Trump’s antisemitism?
lhc (silver lode)
I heard one of West's anti-semitic screeds in which he raised the old lie that Jews have their fingers in every economic pie in America. I would suggest that West earns more than 99% of American Jews. Well, until recently, when many of his sponsors cut ties with him. I now predict that West will attribute the sponsors' action as racial discrimination. Or, who knows, maybe it's because he is a black white supremacist.
TRKapner (Ashburn)
My nieces were adopted from Russia as infants. They're lovely young ladies. According to the "logic" of marrying opposition to Israel's West Bank or overall handling of Palestinians, I should loathe my nieces. But, that would be really stupid. So is holding all Jews responsible for Israel's policies.
Scott Kurant (Secaucus)
American Jews and many Israeli Jews intensely disliked Netanyahu who was trump's bootlicker and republican's anti Obama symbol. If abhorring Bibi and his policies plus his trump toadyism is anti Semitic, then this Jew is an anti-Semite.
Jason (Brooklyn)
“I’m going death con 3” on “JEWISH PEOPLE” has a simple translation: Kill the Jews. How can anyone defend or justify this? How can any commenter tie this ancient vitriol to the Israel-Palestinian conflict? I don’t find many current issues beyond debate, but this shameless threat is one of them. I’m 69, and have long-believed that America might be the best place on earth for the Jews (including all four of my immigrant grandparents); for the first time in my life, I’m scared.
Diego (NYC)
Nothing brings people together like religion.
Justwonderin (Seattle, WA)
Strange Mr. Stephens, you make no mention of the fact that fundamentally, 99% of the base source of antisemitism, comes down to the ignorant factions of religious believers, be they Christian, Muslim or whatever, in which each of them exists ignorance in superabundance.
SSEden (Ky)
Can’t we all just be respectful and get along?
Dbrobbins (Whidbey Island)
Honest would be acknowledging that the former President warned Jewish people that they play ball with Republicans in the US "before it's too late" despite reprehensible racist policies and that the Republican enablers said nothing. Kanye's contribution to the anti-semitic oeuvre is a minor opus compared to the complicity of one of the country's major parties.
Older & Wiser (Broomfield, CO)
Sadly but inevitably, most racists have no firm ground to stand on. They barely know any of the Jews, Blacks, Latinos, or Asians they rant about. Mr. West is a bit different, and I suspect that his narcissistic, egotistical, and enabled lifestyle have allowed and reinforced a level of petulance self gratification that not only brought him to where he is today, but also created bafflement on his part regarding the reaction he has received.
PDR (Connecticut)
Abel made a sacrifice with gratitude from his heart to God. Cain made a sacrifice to win favor with God. God favored Abel’s resulting in his murder by an envious (maybe threatened) Cain. From the beginning of time humans have known people like Cain and Kanye (Cain-ye) West. It has never been easy to be a Jew, but we will be here until the sun sets for the last time. No antiSemite can alter our long journey, a journey that has made life better for all humans.
Plato (CT)
Antisemitism is a very real problem not just in the US but across much of the world. So are Islamophobia and Hindu bashing. But all said, it is a travesty that people like this misinformed and clownish rapper have become spokespeople for anything and more that we continue to pay attention to these types. Just ignore them across all fronts for they thrive on attention of any sort: negative or positive. Same with Trump, Carlson and other hate mongers. They preach hate because they are ignorant. And why on Earth would a citizenry pay attention to ignorant loudmouths?
Garrett (Oregon)
"Or is it the unique evil of antisemitism that directs this kind of obsessive hatred at one state only (Israel) — while generally ignoring or downplaying the endless depredations of regimes in, say, Caracas, Ankara, Havana and Tehran?" I believe most US citizens do not downplay the "endless depredations" of the last four countries mentioned. But since US foreign aid to Israel in 2022 is 3.3 billion v. 87 million for the other four countries combined, I believe we have a strong obligation to more closely evaluate how Israel behaves to those in their occupied territories.
There is a tremendous amount of antisemitism on the left that no one wants to deal with - usually disguised as pro-Palestinism - and also in some Black circles as Bret points out. The white nationalist variety of antisemitism certainly exists, but I find the leftist brand to be more insidious given it hides behind so-called “social justice” issues.
Cindy (MN, USA)
@LDL How then can we hold the Israeli government to account for possible real abuses?
Steven Mccain (New York)
Great we are getting around to condemning Kanye or Ye. When he was kissing Trump's ring and making a fool out of himself people thought he was funny. When he said slavery was a choice we Poo Pooed his comments. No that he has expanded his racism we find him dangerous? When will we learn when one group is singled out for hate that it wont stop there. West should have been booted years ago when he went full throated for The Racist MAGA movement.
Graf von Growl (Mid-Atlantic)
This fool gets too much publicity. Hopefully that will be changing now.
agreed. why listen to the rants of a guy who can't even settle on what to call himself, much less what he calls anybody else.
SDG (brooklyn)
Time will tell if this turns into a learning minute for Ye, or a confirmation to him that Jews have too much power. Sadly, calling for a dialogue in the U.S. centering our our moral failings has historically fallen on deaf ears, whether the subject is anti-Semitism, racial prejudice, moral and logistical failings of military or political power. I guess our most useful dialogues have been on who will win the world series, or NBA or NFL championships -- NYC teams have been eliminated from the latter debates.
Equilibrium (Los Angeles)
Soon enough I fear, the new obnoxious MAGA GOP will find ways to flip this narrative to horrible woke-ness and violations of 'Ye's' free speech. I never dreamed I would see a mainstream political party embrace so many hateful, vile, despicable people and their beliefs. These people have always been around of course. We need look no further than the monstrosity of slavery, the KKK and lynchings in the south, and the overt efforts to deny so many, so much, and only because of their skin. Broaden our view, and we can see how religious minorities have been abused. How Irish, Italian, Latino, and Muslim, immigrants and many other groups have been abused. Of course this hatred has infected the MAGA GOP in new ways because of the ignorance, bigotry, and hatreds Trump has displayed so regularly. His acolytes like Green, Gaetz, Gossert, Boebert, and the Jan 6th crowd et al, revel in this White Christian Nationalistic bigotry. We have to continue to stand against this if we hope to avoid Fascism in this country. If we have learned anything, it is that the MAGA GOP is permanently altered, and we can not let our guard down for a second. It is heartening to see so many business groups cutting ties, so many players at his sports agency cutting ties. Yes, speech is free in this country short of threats and danger, but there are also consequences. Ye is receiving his. Justly.
Donald McCrimmon (Cazenovia NY)
A fine and necessary column repudiating “Ye” and his bigoted outspokenness. But some, not all certainly, Jewish communities can bring opprobrium by their beliefs and actions. To wit, the Hasidic Jewish in New York City whose ultra conservative faith tradition, politics and policies have made a scandal of the education of boys in Yeshivas. The resistance to vaccinations and resultant outbreaks of measles is another example. Thoughtful people, and I hope to count myself in this company, might decry these without prejudice, but antisemitism can also result among others.
Ben Lowsen (Alexandria, VA)
@Donald McCrimmon I think there's a big problem with directing opprobrium at whole communities because you blame everybody within them without regard to what they think or do. It's one thing to talk about issues within specific communities, but your words thoughtlessly indict a whole community. As a Jew, the qualification "some, not all certainly, Jewish communities" just doesn't cut it for me. Would you ever dream of assigning mass guilt to any other community? I hope not, because it's racism and bigotry. Assuming you're not actually a racist or bigot, I would ask that you extend the same courtesy to the Jewish community.
Zoli (Seattle)
Bravo. Sorry to say this, but we Jewish people are just guests here, as we’ve been everywhere. I’m glad to be a senior citizen now, just as I’m glad that my grandparents, refugees, are not here now to experience this. They are spinning in their graves. By the way, I was born here, I didn’t come out of my mother’s womb speaking Hebrew, and I have zero affinity for Israel. This, to me, is the most painful aspect of all this. I am as American as anybody else. I believe in the separation of Church and State. I’m so heartbroken that so many people have forgotten about this important tenet.
So Sad (California)
Ye's insanity has been painful and difficult to observe. On the one hand, I see the evidence of his mental illness, but just like we can't let mass shooters escape accountability for their crimes because they lost their minds, we can't let a celebrities escape accountability either. I have no ideas for curing antisemitism other than education, education and more education. I went to high school in the 1970s. We learned not one peep in high school about WWII and only a few days were spent learning about WWI, that I recall. Most of my learning about The Holocaust came from PBS, film & TV. We also didn't learn much about the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition and what they were all about. Our state and region were, and still are, heavily Catholic. Maybe Catholic educators, the decision-makers working on what should be in the state curriculum, decided not to delve into the sins of Christians over the centuries too much while choosing which history to teach kids? All people carry biases in their heads, even education designers. In college, our General Requirements used to require 6 units in U.S. Gov't. & World Civilizations. Not any more. Now that requirement has been replaced with 6 units in Ethnic Studies & Cultural Diversity. College students are all going to vote, yet they are no longer required to take a refresher course in U.S. government once in college? I worry about our future. I worry where voters are going to learn the basics of reality.
Queenie (Henderson, NV)
Growing up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY I was not aware antisemitism even existed. The first time I went to Vermont I was confronted with it. In the fifty years since that incident I never thought about it again. But since Trump made his “good people on both sides” speech in the wake of Charlottesville, it has come to the forefront. And if the GOP gets back in power, it will be even more prevalent. We will be like Germany in the 1930’s. I wish more Democratic politicians would sound the alarm.
Pragmatist in CT (Westport)
@Queenie --- what Trump said in Charlottseville has been grossly mischaracterized. his 'good people...' was referring directly to the two sides in the park protesting whether to take down the statue of General Lee -- NOT to neo-Nazis who he directly condemned.
ajvan1 (Montpelier)
We live in a nation where half of the electorate are driven by little more than hate and greed who feed on the hate driven rantings of people like Trump and West. Anyone who isn’t a white, heterosexual Christian are considered fair game by those on the right and that isn’t going to change.
kathleen cairns (San Luis Obispo Ca)
Well, students in many states--including, bizarrely, my blue one--are being (strongly) discouraged from grappling with any books or ideas that teach them about racism, sexism, or anti-semitism. Local school boards decry "wokeness" and the teaching of "critical race theory," even though no elementary or middle schools, and few high schools teach such a class. So, is it any wonder that anti-semitism has flourished? When young people are bombarded with white, Christian grievance, this tragic state of affairs is inevitable.
jack (ny)
An excellent article, too bad it will go unnoticed by the people who actually need to be educated on anti semitism. I am not a fan of guns but 5 years ago my wife and I took gun safety and proficiency courses and currently own 2 glocks...just for to protect ourselves from people like ye.
Henry S (Texas)
I was on board with this article until he equates Anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitism. Truth, Anti-Zionism can be conflated and used as a front for Anti-Semitism, but not as a rule. Fair criticism of Iran is not Anti-Islam. The argument that we are "ignoring the endless depredations of Tehran, Ankara" and the like seems like a stretch. Israel is an ally, that has received hundreds of millions if not billions of US Tax dollars the last 40-years, as well as express and tacit support by the US internationally that is a big factor for US involvement in various military conflicts. So let's not get carried away when some liberal college denies some speakers.
Mitch Horowitz (Brooklyn, NY)
Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism are more difficult to disentangle than much of academic and online culture would like to posit. The former is not infrequently used to repackage the latter, an example of which appears, in my estimation, in the work of the popular conspiracist writer David Icke. Given that most Jews worldwide are Zionists, if by that one means belief in the restoration and maintenance of a Jewish ancestral homeland (which doesn’t preclude parallel belief in the establishment of a legitimate Palestinian state), the matter becomes still more difficult, especially when anti-Zionism translates into a consuming and near-obsessive conviction.
Glen (Ann Arbor)
Kanye/Ye isn’t running for president, so why are we giving him so much attention? He’s an easy target, right? Hate speech is hate speech — whether it’s against African Americans, Jews, etc. Rather than cherry pick Ye for his hateful speech, why doesn’t Stephens denounce all hate speech, especially from politicians who wield more power and influence to impact change.
left coast finch (L.A.)
@Glen Only someone like Kanye has such intense influence on culture. It has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with his massive cultural influence which in turn is affecting our politics. Culture dictates society and thus needs to be equally watched and reported by the Fourth Estate.
Baddy Khan (San Francisco)
Anti Semitism is wrong and should not be tolerated. But no, no, Bret, criticizing (the foreign country of) Israel is always OK for any American. You can word-salad a protective cocoon, Israel is still a foreign country which elects it own government in its own interest, not those of the US. This includes accepting massive Chinese hightech investment, which may very well be a backdoor to forbidden US technology. We can't stop them. Reason? It is a foreign country. Like any other foreign country they want to use the US, and you shouldn't be helping them.
John (New York City)
The guy cannot play an instrument. He mixes beats. He's no Stevie Wonder that's for sure.
Arthur Jackson (London, UK)
Mr. West's embrace of Donald J. Trump, and all the worn baggage of his movement, (anti-semitism, anti-black, anti-immigrant) has led us exactly here. I am waiting for Mr. West to deliver an unhinged Q-Anon conspiracy theory rant, although, you can probably find that content watching Fox News, Newsmac, OAN, on any weeknight primetime. Why do white men get away with their hateful ideas, and Mr.West is called out so quickly?
Steven Mccain (New York)
@Arthur Jackson Because it is easier to beat up on a rapper than it is Mr MAGA. Both Trump and West are reprehensible. But it only seems West who has pulled the trip wire.
WSciman (TN)
This is a most insightful summary of the anti-semitism subject I've read anywhere. A powerful reminder of the roots of hate.
David (SC)
Ok Brett, please write your next piece on Tucker Carleson and his anti-semantic crusade against George Soros and Jewish people. A small sample, "Soros, Carlson says, “is waging a kind of war — political, social and demographic war — on the West.” In a recent interview about the episode, Carlson added that Soros’ aim is to make society “more dangerous, dirtier, less democratic, more disorganized, more at war with themselves, less cohesive — in other words, it’s a program of destruction aimed at the West."
Nancy S. (SF Bay Area)
Bret, You are very legitimately standing up for Jewish people who have been attacked to the point of total destruction, yet you belong to a political party in the US which, in its essence, is all about white supremacy and racial hatred. Your political party seems to be ok with fact that wealth inequality is almost a religion unto itself. Where does compassion and empathy with the downtrodden fit in?
Philip Davidson (Old Greenwich, CT)
Thank you, Brett. Very much.
mlevanda (Manalapan, NJ)
Thank you. Well said.
Cincinnati (Cincinnati)
No Bret, the headlines said “High Levels of Fentanyl in Minority Lead Police Officer to Kneel on Man’s Neck for Eight Minutes.”
Robert Eisdorfer (Long Island City)
Once again a Times columnist conflates anti-semitism with criticism of the right wing government of Israel as they arrest and kill more Palestinian youth in an unrelenting campaign to make life so miserable that they are forced to leave their homeland. Yes there are lots of ‘evil’ regimes and Israel is just one of them. Which is why we must speak out against all. But Israel claims to speak for all Jews, so it is my duty as a Jew to say “not in my name.” The occupation and land theft is unending and internationally illegal and they continue to create ‘facts on the ground’ to ensure the Palestinians will never have a country of their own with full rights (which they do not have in Israel). It is soul crushing for both Israelis and Palestinians, and life threatening for Palestinians.
United All (Florida)
Mr. Stephens, your op-Ed is excellent and rational. Sadly, Jew hatred is not rational. How else to explain the demonization and persecution of a scant few million souls? Jews number no more than 15 million worldwide, and that’s a generous estimate. Israel has always been the homeland of the Jewish people, even when they were thrown out by invaders. Most criticism of Israel I hear is not about Israel changing her treatment of Arabs. Rather, it’s an insistance that Jews don’t belong there and don’t have a right to exist. Neither the country nor the people. Jew hatred will not get better by appealing to reason, so all attempts to compare it to other injustices will ultimately trigger comments like most of the commentators above: defense. “Yeah but Israel is different.” “Yeah but I’m just upset about injustice.” And other smoke screens. Anti-Semitism is too often couched in righteous indignation and the insistence that persecution of Jews is necessary to fix some other injustice. Nonsense.
Critical Thinker (Oakland, CA.)
Ye needs a history lesson on Civil Rights, which was planned, promoted and succeeded with Jews and Blacks working together. For Blacks it was crucial to their future as Americans. For Jews it was a righteous cause they were drawn to from their history and human rights attitudes. Yes, sometimes the relationship struggles but all relationships struggle. When I was a teenage boy I marched with Black demonstrators for Civil Rights not only because I was appalled Blacks weren't allowed to vote in the South but because I'd seen close up how Black student friends I went to school with in Boston were treated by many of the teachers. Someone needs to sit him down and explain the relationship between Jews and Blacks so he stops his declared war on Jews that the Neo-Nazis have seized as propaganda and used to make Ye and Blacks look foolish. Ye suggesting slavery was voluntary and that George Floyd died from a drug overdose hurts the Black community in ways that the truth can't overcome at this point. He contributes to racism against Blacks as well as anti-semitism with his over-the-top ignorance and if he had a shred of consciousness he'd be ashamed of himself, but sadly he doesn't appear to have even that.
Kenneth Thompson (Charlotte)
'Ye' were spot on with your commentary.
Jon (DC)
The excuse that anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism completely falls flat when you notice that no other country, regardless of any conflicts in which it may be involved, receives NEARLY the same level of criticism and censure. Because they only have eyes for Israel (and if the state of Israel didn’t exist they’d all return to pre-Israel justification for antisemitism).
Cindy (MN, USA)
@Jon But does any other country receive the same amount of funding from the U.S.? I'm just asking. Isn't is apt that we scrutinize governments we give vast assistance to? I'm open to the claim that anti-Semitism can sometimes or often be disguised as anti-Zionism, and I'm willing to be educated further on this. But, in the meantime, should we never hold the Israeli government accountable for injustices??
Blanche White (South Carolina)
Mr. Stephens, There is an infection on college campuses among the students that is anti Israel and it has filtered into society and is trumpeted by Media and I think fuels antisemitism. I have begun to see college as more of a stomping ground for every cockamamie idea to turn into a protest group that often is only groupthink and little to do with intelligent protest. I just read of a new gang of young men calling themselves the Lion's Den in the West Bank who don't like their leadership and are taking matters into their own hands and who are extremely violent and just want to kill. Israel is devoting much manpower to root them out. The Palestinian authority just ignores the militants. So that is what Israel deals with all the time because Palestinian leaders just want to wait it out as they reproduce many angry young men who they hope will take matters into their own hands to overwhelm the Israelis with their sheer numbers one day in this long process I call War of the Wombs.
Cindy (MN, USA)
@Blanche White I'm sure there is some truth in what you say, but in the meantime you are ignoring specific real grievances against the Israeli government. I wish Israel's defenders would acknowledge those grievances and argue how they are are valid or not valid on their merits--rather than claiming endlessly and out of hand that all criticisms of Israel are immediately anti-Semitic. Such claims avoid the issue and possibility of actual, real abuses.
Fear and Loathing Too (California)
Please?!?! Enough. I don't care even the slightest what pea wee brain ye says, does, thinks (if it occurs), etc. I'll bet those like me are the vast majority. Please just let him fade into that oblivion where media created celebrities go.
Jole Pear Spice (Massachusetts)
I am Jewish. Unless I am mistaken on the facts, I am against the apartheid happening in Israel as any human should be. I have also noticed a massive uptick in vocal antisemitism since Trump was elected as I’ve witnessed other minority people enduring similar increases. Most people I’ve met who support Zionism as a movement, a movement that I am not an expert on, appear to support the aforementioned apartheid or dismiss it as a necessary evil or some form of self defense. I find your comparison between a student group excluding Zionists, which I understand to be a mainly political ideology, and trans rights activists, who represent humans of all political affiliations alive, passed, and yet unborn. Bret, you seem like a very educated person. Are you, knowing what you know, dismissing the apartheid as others do, or do you know something I do not?
Andrew (NYC)
Interesting how they represent such a small population yet get so much hate. Also interesting how they get the most Nobel prizes.
Michael (Stockholm)
@Andrew Jews have not received "the most Nobel prizes". First of all, the prize is given without regard to religion. By and large, Christians have gotten the most Nobel prizes. Second, there is no such thing as a Nobel Prize in Economics, so the Wiki page covering this topic (which is locked and not editable) is off by 30 laureates too many.
Philip Kessler (Santa Fe,NM)
Anti-Jewish is a more apt term. A semite is simply someone who speaks Hebrew or Arabic. Many USA jews may read Hebrew prayers very very few speak Hebrew. As a kid every spring when the Catholic kids came home from their weekly dogma training, I'd be told, "YOU KILLED JESUS!" If only I knew then as now I could tell them, If there was no death and so-called resurrection you'd have no religion.
Raphael Rousseau (Los Altos)
I was raised a Catholic, always was told Ponce Pilatius, a Roman, killed Jesus. Not Jews, for whom I have huge respect and admiration regardless of the current geopolitics. I know too many Christians have different views on this, alas. I had never thought about your point about “no death, no Christianity, no resurrection”: I love Jewish humor, will use it with appropriate acknowledgment.
George (Minneapolis)
Kanye has paranoid delusions about Jews, and that makes him an antisemite. On the other hand, he is delusional about many other things. And this makes him... This is not to say his rants are inconsequential, but I am more distressed about the concealed malice of serious folks in politics and academia who would never call their loathing by its name.
Dom (Lunatopia)
Thanks for writing this Bret. I was raised catholic but on my maternal line i'm technically a Jew; i don't know the exact history but i think it was my grandmother's grandmother who married into a noble Polish family in what is now Ukraine. My uncle even managed to find family records in some library in Vienna (the Nazis had saved all of them to hunt us down) and was able to trace back our family to the point when they were kicked out of Spain in the late 1400s... some ancestor had been a rabbi there from what my uncle was able to gather. When Kanye did this I mentioned to a girl in Barcelona who knew that some of heritage was spanish jewish but is a fan of his... and well her reaction was very disheartening i was told not to mention (that i consider myself part Jewish) it again else she wouldn't speak to me... If young people aren't educated properly then disgusting people like Kanye who have their ear as pop stars will fill them with all sorts of racist, antisemetic, sexist and other trash.
Jay Dwight (Western MA)
Thank you for your candor. Call it as you see it, straight no chaser and call out all of KW’s fellow travelers like Tucker Carlson who dog whistle and walk away from the consequences. Hate begets hate begets violence and they know it.
ML (New York, NY)
Excellent column and spot-on on many points. I don't love the implied apologism for "rapacious Jewish landlords". There can be no tolerance for violence, antisemitism, or bigotry of any kind. By the same token, we must also not tolerate the chillul HaShem (discrediting of Jewish ethics before the gentiles) of the predatory and venal behavior of so many landlords who smirkingly clothe themselves in religiosity.
george (Australia)
Jews Don’t Count - a book by David Baddiel reflects yr comments Mr Stephens. It explains how identity politicss has failed one particular identity - Jews. Had West said the same thing he said abt Jews, about say Latinos or women or the LBGTQI group or Muslims - the consequences would have been astronomical. But its only about Jews which somehow makes it less serious. WELL ITS NOT LESS SERIOUS. Antisemitism needs to be called out bravely and strongly every time it raises its filthy head. And it must be prosecuted as hate speech when it occurs. And it must stop.
Dr. Zucker-Conde (Medford, Ma.)
What is most frightening to me is that Ye and people of his ilk merely have to repeat lies for the lie to somehow catch hold; hatred of the other seems too easy to invoke, a vulnerability of humanity, our animal tendency to blame and war. And for Jewish people who have made a home in the United States, now second or third generation, or back before World War II, thoroughly American, voters, doctors, teachers, lawyers, lawmakers, scientists, businesspeople, drivers, grocers, home owners, renters, parents, temple-goers and atheists, neighbors, people, how reminiscent of pre-war Germany is this type Anti-Semitism. The best defense for Jewish people is usually offense. Vote for Democrats. Republicans won't lower your taxes; they'll just make you a target of haters and rob you. That's what robber barons do.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Rejection of the belief that Jesus was the begotten son of a humanoid God projected by ignoramuses obviously antagonizes some of these believers to apoplexy. Jesus didn't establish Christianity, the Nicene Conference did, at the behest of Emperor Constantine, 300 years after he died on the cross. Jesus was a Jew.
NMH (Canada)
@Steve Bolger Not to mention a rabbi. There is actually no better example of social insanity than anti-Semitism practiced by Christians.
Andy (RI)
Nice to see someone else realizes this. All these years, I thought was alone. Thanks Steve
left coast finch (L.A.)
@Steve Bolger Yes! An even better summation of the deep and persistent Christian roots of anti-semitism than I presented in my own comment. I wish the media would highlight it more.
reader 000001 (Washington DC)
I am as strong a supporter of Israel’s right to exist as the other 290 nation states that make up the UN. That said, I favor secular states over religious ones, and that applies regardless of religion - for example, I do not favor the UK having a monarchy where the monarch is the head of the Christian Anglican Church. Nor do I favor the situation here in the US where the current right-wing Christian-Catholic bloc is pushing us closer and closer to an oligarchic theocracy, where the rights of literally half the population (aka women) and certain minority groups (LGB) are disfavored and under threat.
Skeptical M (Cleveland, OH)
Christians elevated one Jew to be their God while taking perverse pleasure in persecuting the rest.
B Colorado (Denver)
And to think Kanye considered himself POTUS material. Almost, but not quite, as scary as Trump's POTUS ambitions.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
When I was a kid in the Fifties about 12 years old, I fell in with a gentile kid in my neighborhood a few years older than me, who was a bit of a hero to me. He was a lot bigger than me, nice looking, a good student and athlete who knew how to stand up for himself in a fight, which I didn’t. We spent the better part of two summers hanging around together, walking through distant neighborhoods looking for grocery stores to buy baseball cards at, riding city buses to the ends of their lines to see what was there and going to cowboy movies that you could get into for eleven cents. One hot summer afternoon, we were sitting on the curb in front of a drug store and he turns to me all-of-a-sudden and apropos of nothing says in a very serious tone of voice, “I’m never gonna forgive you people for killing Santa Claus.” I was stunned. Even at 12, I knew he was dead serious, there was no convincing him otherwise and that the best thing for me to do was get away from him quick as I could, which I did, and that was the last time in my life I ever laid eyes on him. --- To be completed below.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
A few years ago, I did an internet search for him and discovered that he had had a very successful professional life, was a multi- millionaire, was a beloved business mentor to many young people throughout the country and was extremely well thought of in the high-business and social circles he traveled in. Whether he ever had any further revelations or a serious change of heart about the killing of Santa Claus is something I can’t tell you, but I doubt it.
ronny (hartford)
I mostly enjoy Kanye, as an artist and as a provocateur. I have no context for why he said what he said about Jews, and I don’t really care about inappropriate tweets from manic depressive artists. I enjoy the unfashionable truths that sometimes come out him (like exposing BLM as a fraudulent destructive hustle), but, again, who cares? I do not draw a causal or correlative relationship between his tweets and any data indicating increased anti-Jewish violence or political leaning domestically or abroad.
Dianna (Portland, OR)
What gets me is why people want to hate a certain group. What a waste of time. Hate of other should be addressed by all leaders everywhere. From the pulpit, from the halls of political institutions, from our educational systems. We need love.
Kzzzzz (Seattlle)
Bret Stephens your op-ed was spot on. My only wish is that someone would mention that what we are seeing is a person who is obviously mentally ill spinning out of control. If he does not get help soon something is likely to happen. He is making statements that are giving him a lot of attention, he thinks in his sick mind that what he is saying makes sense. His future looks very dark. I feel very sad for his children.
Aldo Leopoldo (Sand Counties, USA, World 🌎)
I won’t need to read Bret again for a year, he writes about one column a year that makes sense and this is that column. It’s true, we must be just as radical in protecting the Jewish community from discrimination as we are in protecting other minority communities. That fight to be open and accepting makes us vibrant.
Steve D (Chicago)
I rarely agree with Stephens, but his example of the Hollywood museum is a good indication that something is going on here beyond criticism of Zionism. A museum dedicated to the American film industry that overlooks the contributions of Jews is like a hip hop museum that ignores Black artists. An uncritical view of the DEI movement in industry and cultural institutions will only encourage such distortions.
Fuego (Brooklyn)
It is disgraceful Bret to say this is as much a problem of the "left" as it is of the "right". Yes, unfortunately, there are a minority of people on the left that use Israel's occupation of the West Bank as a cover for anti-Semitism, and those people need to be called out and sanctioned. But here's a sprinkling of what's going on with the Right: Donald Trump, the leader of the Republican Party, says American Jews are insufficiently loyal to Israel- and insufficiently grateful to Trump. When talking to American Jews, he calls Israel "your country." On Sunday Jewish Americans and organizations in Beverly Hills found flyers on their doorsteps with Nazi-style caricatures "blaming Jewish people for health, environmental, racial and social issues" That same Sunday, white nationalists performed Hitler salutes above an LA freeway, with a banner stating “Kanye is right about the Jews.” It's the 4th anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh today! There have been other recent synagogue shootings in Texas, California and Kansas City, all done by people associated with the Right. Majorie Taylor Greene talks about Jewish space lasers and holocaust denial and a slew of other anti-Semitic remarks. Doug Mastriano has made anti-Semitic tropes a hallmark of his campaign. In Charlottesville, the marchers shouted "Jews will not replace us." And on and on.
Fla Joe (South Florida)
And what about statements from your buddy Trump? Or, some similar screeds from GOP party members. You can be a total phony.
The Poet McTeagle (California)
"Is the Jewish state so uniquely evil that, alone among 193 U.N. member states, it has no moral right to exist?" Not "uniquely evil". Not the "shining city on the hill", either. To quote Dorothy Parker: "When I was young and bold and strong, Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong! My plume on high, my flag unfurled, I rode away to right the world. ‘Come out, you dogs, and fight!’ said I, And wept there was but once to die. But I am old; and good and bad Are woven in a crazy plaid."
Eileen (Charlotte)
What’s your point? Nobody said Israel (or the USA or any country, for that matter) is the shining star on the hill. The question is why is Israel, alone, singled out for condemnation and as not having a right to exist?
William (Alberta)
I liked the part where after the I did ent in Texas where a radicalized Muslim man traveled thousands of miles to take a synagogue hostage, the police kept saying they “couldn’t find a motive.” That was precious.
Aaron (Utah)
No juvenile remarks. Congrats, Bret. Let's see you bring this level of seriousness to all your columns, including your conversations with Gail Collins.
Russell (New York)
Well done!
Expunged (New York, NY)
Thank you. Every point you make has for some time now resulted in my pulling clumps of hair from my head. No media outlet has been more guilty of ignoring what’s been happening to Jews all over the country than the Times - except when the guilty parties are on the right. I know very well that the greatest threat to Jews in the U.S. are people who most love Donald Trump; they terrify me. But the refusal to recognize the threats from the left is dangerous in the long run.
James, Toronto, CANADA (Toronto)
It is fascinating that the extreme left and extreme right agree that the Jews or Zionists or Israel or George Soros (i.e. the Jews) are behind all the world's problems. Somehow all Jews are both communist revolutionaries and billionaire bankers pulling the strings of Washington, Wall Street, Moscow, Hollywood, etc. Somehow none of the other middle eastern countries mistreat their minorities (e.g. Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis, Kurds, Copts, Bahai, Christians but not the Jews since they have all been expelled) quite as badly as the Israelis do the Palestinians. There are currently 14 Israeli Arab members of the Knesset. How many Jews are there in the legislatures (if they even exist) of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and more particularly in the Palestinian Authority and in Gaza?
Technic Ally (Toronto)
Oh. Ye of little faith.
Jack (Los Angeles)
Nicely articulated and completely accurate. There is, however, one missing point that is often overlooked when discussing the American left’s shabby embrace of anti-semitism: the role that some progressive Jews—particularly on college campuses—play in the BDS movement. At best they are apologists for naked anti-semitism; at worst they are willing participants.
Anti-Zionism is not axiomatically antisemitism - no matter how many times Brett Stephens or anyone else repeats it. Of course, the two can overlap - the criticism of Zionism and of Israel can indeed be rooted in antisemitism, in Jew hatred. But to criticize Israel for violating international law in annexing East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, occupation of West Bank, effective blockade of Gaza, building settlements in occupied territories, practicing apartheid in Israel and in the occupied territories is not antisemitism. That’s valid criticism. There’s also equally valid criticism of Palestinians or anyone else that violates international laws and norms.
Dr. Henry Hackman (NSA Restrooms)
Bret Stephens, the NYTimes merit to exist these days rests mostly on your shoulders. Bullseye opinion piece.
TH (Chicago)
Thank you Kanye for reminding us how truly antisemitic this country and the world is. Thank you to all those who minimize antisemitism, change the subject, perpetuate stereotypes, or tell Kanye he was actually right because all 0.2% of us “do control the media” when we simply stand together to denounce hate. Thank you to the Israel haters who can’t see the connection between antisemitism and the unmatched and disproportionate hatred and boycott of a tiny country trying to live in peace in an antisemitic Middle East that wants to erase it from existence (note: legitimate criticism of policies or the government is acceptable). Thank you to the LA honkers who support Kanye and white supremacists. Thank you to liberal college campuses who boycott a country and Jews without understanding the facts and unintended consequences, or holding any other country to the same standard. Thank you to all those who resent and hate Jews, after 6 million of our ancestors were wiped out in the Holocaust. We can see how it happened. You have taught us to be resilient, strong, compassionate, unified, wise, and to stand up for all those who face discrimination and the ugly underbelly of society. Finally, thank you Bret Stephens, Noa Tishby, and all of the courageous Jewish and Israeli activists and allies who stand up for us, teach, educate, and strive for peace and love. #neverforget
Hal (Chicago)
What if we just dismissed this fool as the nincompoop he is and moved on? How about that? I've tried it. It works, notwithstanding this comment. But every time foolish people show up in otherwise respected publications like The Times, it gives them a strange kind of credibility, i.e., if it's in The Times it must be worth reading. The man's an embarrassment. Ignore him.
LongTimeFirstTime (New York City)
The reason it's taken this long for anyone to care about hate directed at Jews is we live in the land of the aggrieved now - Black, gay, trans, handicapped, you get the idea, they get to complain for their grievance. What else could possibly explain their tough of it? Jews? Lawyers, doctors, bankers, what do they have to complain about? The squeaky wheel gets the oil in the social media public square. These are dangerous times.
Souvient (St. Louis, MO)
Kanye (I refuse to call him a new name every few months) is a racist? Color me shocked. And what’s that you say, Bret? There are other black people who are also racist? No way—that can’t be possible. After all, you can’t be a bigot if you don’t have systemic power. And systemic power comes only from the color of your skin, right? Ergo, black people cannot be racist and Kanye must be innocent. Who are you going to believe—me or your lying eyes? Liberals have a massive blind spot when it comes to this sort of nonsense. They’re so concerned with appearing to be anti-racist allies of everyone besides caucasians that they contort themselves into knots to avoid acknowledging the obvious: anyone can be a racist regardless of their ethnicity. And you don’t get a free pass just because you’re black. I don’t think Kanye’s comments will change many minds on that matter overnight, but maybe it will provide enough proof of what is patently obvious for at least a few liberals to finally check the craziest parts of their anti-racist dogma. To be clear, this includes abandoning the bigoted musings of people like Ibram x. Kendi. He’s a racist who openly calls for racism today as recompense for past racism (as if two wrongs make a right—what a puerile, bankrupt philosophy). That won’t fix everything all at once, but it’s a good start. Maybe then we can have some more constructive conversations on race, class, money and power.
Patrick alexander (Oregon)
Oh no, still another article or column about Kan-ye West or whatever his latest name is. I have a question, though. Does this guy ever smile , or does he always pose like a wannabe tough guy?
Darryl Magree (Tokyo)
Well said.
ZecaRioca (GB)
Thank you, Bret. When someone adds a BUT in a sentence that someone lost credibility. Anyone that says s/he is anti-Israel BUT is not anti-Semitic has no credibility whatsoever.
Nan Socolow (West Palm Beach, FL)
Thanks, Bret, Ye has kicked the hornet’s nest of antisemitism and racism. Mr. West Is already feeling the sting of his words. Who can fail to remember the grotesque words “The Jews will not replace us!” shouted by ‘good people on both sides’ during the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in 2017? Ye (formerly known as Kanye) West is this moment’s face of racism (“death com 3” to Jews, “White Lives Matter). Ye West and antisemitism are symptoms of America in crisis today.
music observer (nj)
The idea that America is immune to anti semitism was and is a myth, pure and simple. While there is legitimate right to protest Israeli government actions, and question things, the fact that Israel gets condemned in the UN for rights violations while China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and lovely countries in Africa are ignored says a lot. I will add, though, that there are a lot of pro Israel groups who pull the anti semite card to use against anyone who protests what the Israel government has done, or argue we need a solution for the Palestinians. Among the pro palestinian groups, the anti semitism is they condemn Israel, yet ignore that for example the Palestinians still have as an ultimate goal wiping out Israel. And yes, it transcends race, it transcends political ideology. There is the trope that thanks to very prominent success of Jews in places like the financial industry and so forth, the assumption Jews "control the world". Black anti semitism is not unknown, they blamed "Rich Jews" for their plight, when Jews were some of the original and biggest supporters of black civil rights. The right, that claims to 'love Israel', has at its base evangelicals, who see Jews as an obstacle to their end of days. They support Israel because they believe Israel needs to return to its riginal kingdom for the rapture to happen, yet then believe the Jews need to "convert or die" (Southern Baptists as one prime example).
Joseph (Boston)
You know, notably Adidas pulled their affiliation with Kanye over the antisemitic incident... also they've been supporting BDS for ages. Alas, the rise in antisemitism over the past two decades in the US and Europe has been primarily driven by the left over Palestine and nonsensical tropes about us being "greedy Jews." Kanye really didn't bring any light to the matter- people will continue to deny major sources of discrimination, social hostility, and violence towards us specifically because it's left leaning. They've just categorized him as a bigoted right winger and go into the typical play of suddenly caring about antisemitism when it can be used to cudgel conservatives. The fact that he is in fact a bigoted right winger will just allow the other side of the aisle to continue its cognitive dissonance regarding its own hate and bigotry
Diego (NYC)
OK. But how do you critique Israel without being accused of anti-semitism? Or confronted with Brett's what-aboutism of "Caracas, Ankara..."?
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Diego I don't get it. I've seen plenty of critical articles and reporting about Venezuela and Turkey.
West (USA)
On the left and the right. Antisemitism is on the left and the right. Rising at major universities and at businesses.
“At times, the reporting has all but accused Jews of bringing the violence on themselves, with lengthy stories about allegedly pushy Jewish neighbors or rapacious Jewish landlords.” Hm... im a Jew who speaks constantly of anti Semitism but tbh I don’t think criticism of landlords who happen to be Jewish in Brooklyn has nothing to do with the vitriol online. Nor is anyone saying Jews are bringing violence upon themselves. This is a reach.
Anthony (Texas)
Most of the time a bigot is just a bigot. But in Ye’s case a lot of his recent comments have the sound of someone suffering from paranoid delusions.
Una (Toronto)
As an progressive activist I run into alot of anti zionism. The outright lies, propaganda, and spin are outrageous, as bad as far right lies about liberal issues. It's super scary that many people on the left accept it as truth even though I have yet to meet an anti zionist with one truthful fact to back their claims. This is what fuels terrorism & the hip new anti semitism, pop celebs condenming Israel. I'm also "glad" that this occured. The uproar was needed and it is time for a teaching moment.
Bruce (Hackensack NJ)
Great column and I regret that it is not longer, more detailed and a segue into a course on how bigotry takes on a much more pernicious course of conduct when it involves hatred against Jews. But what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews, as most of history has proven.
Curious (Marfa, Texas)
It is very right to bring to light the rise in antisemitism. Here and abroad. And, apparently at the UN. But why spend a column writing about an apparently mentally ill person on the subject? It just seems to almost diminish the seriousness of the piece.
lawence gottlieb (nashville tn)
Does the author acknowledge that most American anti-semitism comes from the GOP?
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@lawence gottlieb No. That's why I view this article's "blame the left" tone as Stephens' attempt to get Jewish votes for the GOP.
MH (South Jersey, USA)
And yet, the GOP has either outright welcomed Ye into the MAGA tribe or, at best been silent about his antisemitism. It goes to show that once you're in the bag for MAGA, especially if you're a celebrity of some sort, you get their warm support no matter how loathsome you are or your conduct is.
Jackl (Somewhere in the Mountains of Upstate NY)
Hello to fellow commenters. Just want to say that if your reaction to this piece is primarily to go off 0n tangents and talk about China, or Palestinians, or differences between anti-Semitism and other racism differences against Black people (e.g., noting that law enforcement does not “target” Jews in the same way), or between right wing and allegedly less intentional left wing/woke anti-semitism, you’re engaging in deflection and whataboutism. You should quite possible explore your own biases and potential for anti-Semitism. Especially if you’re goysplaining that there isn’t really any problem, or that it really isn’t bad.
JayG🥸🥸🥸🥸 (Brooklyn)
Bret, I agree with your comments about Kanye. He’s a hateful person, whose supposed mental illness shouldn’t give him a pass. While I’m very much against cancel culture, the ruination of his career is well deserved. Antisemitism, racism, etc. abbot be tolerated. I do take issue with your comment regarding the “University of California, Berkeley, where nine student groups announced in August that they would not host any speakers who support Zionism, a move that is tantamount to the exclusion of most Jews.” Really? Most Jews? I’m Jewish and I think Zionism is reprehensible. The crimes inflicted upon Palestinians by the Israeli government are abhorrent- and all the more so because of the crimes inflicted upon Jews in the past. Zionism doesn’t not equal Judaism.
Cormac (NYC)
No doubt, the usual hack gallery will snidely attack you with "what about the GOP," and/or the dishonest argument that anti-zionism is not anti-semitism, but this non-jew is grateful for your staying on this phenomenon.
Elizabeth Porteous (New York, NY)
I disagree that anti-Semitism as much a problem on the left as it is on the right. The data on hate crimes doesn't support that claim. And criticism of Israel's government policies and actions related to the occupied territories - coming from some on the left - cannot always be equated with anti-Semitism. The monster we're seeing now was unleashed by Trump and is fueled by the Trumpism that has swallowed the GOP, not by liberals or Democrats.
RK (Miami)
@Elizabeth Porteous The data does bear this out. It is just as pervasive in far left thinking as far right thinking. Just ask the Labour party or the Squad.
David Williams (San Diego county)
@RK, "The data does bear this out." False, look at the data from the ADL. An explosion in Jewish hate crimes beginning in 2016 (what could have happened then?) Look at the killers of Jewish congregants in synagogues. Not a "lefty" in the bunch. The guys chaning "Jews will not replace us" were not a bunch of liberal college students. I could go on but my fingers are getting tired by pushing back against this false equivalence that begin with Bret. Anti-semitism on both sides sure? But the real danger almost always comes from the right.
MS (Washington DC)
@RK Anti-zionism should not mean the same thing as anti-semitism.
JJ (Montana)
Anti-zionism should not mean the same thing as anti-semitism. In unnuanced discourse they seem to be combined. As a Jew it is challenging to oppose Israel's policies and the murder of Palestinians while also being proud of myself and my people, and it is disheartening that these two endeavors are often viewed as diametrically opposed. It should not be so hard to separate my cultural and religious identity from a government, and yet it feels that way sometimes, many times. Even now, it is hard to articulate (IN AN ONLINE ANONYMOUS COMMENT) the sorrow that I feel about Ye's behavior, about Israel's ongoing injustice, about anti-Blackness running throughout it all, while still expressing pride in my Jewishness. And this is in itself, I guess, an impact of anti-semitism, that I struggle to do that.
David H (Northern Va.)
@JJ Please don’t be so hard on yourself. Most of the Arab world no longer believes that the problem can be reduced to Israel as the “occupier.” Israel has the unevviable chore of administering territory, the status of which it would like to negotiate. The Palestinians refuse, unless, of course, Israel agrees upfront to return every square inch of territory that captured in the war. The problem is, that is not a negotiation. And a negotiation is required, so that the Palestinians can demonstrate to the Israeli voters that they, the Palestinians, indeed seek to live peacefully next to Israel. Negotiations are in the first instance of critical importance to the Palestinians, for that very reason. Strangely, the Palestinians have not yet figure that out.
Bob (Maryland)
This is such an awesome commentary, Bret! Thank you.
Rovingcritic (USA)
There is absolute irony in a man who used to want to talk about the struggle of African Americans and has no sense of history as he remains poorly educated. He is apparently unaware that Jews, of all people were the most sympathetic to Civil Rights. Jews marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Jews lost their lives fithing for Black Civil Rights. I feel no pity for West, he has a 1st Amendment right to free speeech, however, we also have the same right to speak out and as he has turned himself into a big fashion business, boycott all of his products. This is literally a fable and the store has an obvious moral.
Dr. Warren (Atlanta)
Ironically, most social justice strategies used by African Americans, Asian Americans, LGBT, and other minority groups today derive from the blueprint created by Jews long ago to address anti-Semitism in this country. Yet, not many young progressives are even aware of this connection. And in a way, because the efforts of the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations have been so successful, younger generations, particularly liberals, tend to consider Jews part of the white mainstream. They simply don't know what they don't know when it comes to anti-Semitism and its dangers.
Jerry S (Chelsea)
I worked at an ad agency. I didn't see much anti semitism. Except for a midwestern Client who scheduled a meeting on Rosh Hashona and when told that was a religious holiday toll us "we don't celebrate that here." Except for our French owner of the New York branch firing our Jewish Chairman the day before Rosh Hashana, at home, by fax, and then showing up on Rosh Hashana to introduce our new Chairmen when no Jews were at work. Except for a Southern Client who for a testimonial to our work said, who would have thought a couple of Jew Boys in New York could have done such good advertising for chewing tobacco. Except for the Client who made anti Semitic remarks to our Creative Director, after which we resigned the Account. And so on. All of these were from people outside on New York City. We are part of the culture of New York City, but many in the rest of the country have very different attitudes about Jews. I guess I should feel grateful that nobody shot at us.
Ira Lacher (Des Moines, Iowa)
@Jerry S Being ignored is as bad as being attacked. At least when we’re attacked, they have to acknowledge our presence.
JAB (Bayport.NY)
Is Kanya West a straw man for Stephens? West is a man with many mental health issues. Has Stephens ever written a post critical of Israel? Has he criticized the illegal settlements in the West Bank? The forcible removal of Palestinians from their homes? The use of bombs attacking civilian targets in Gaza? He is quick to criticize Iran,rightfully so. Israeli action is also open to criticism. Any criticism of Israel he equates with antisemitism.
Magenta Libertarian (SF Bay Area)
@JAB: I’m afraid I don’t understand the point of your post. “Has Stephens ever written a post that is critical of Israel?” I don’t know. If he had, would that make Kanye’s comments acceptable? “Any criticism of Israel he (Stephens) equates with antisemitism.” Are you suggesting that Kanye’s comments were not antisemitic?
Cambridge 02138 (Cambridge, Ma)
Thank you Bret for your thoughtfulness. Anti-Semitism, even when now masked as anti-Zionism, continues to be the coal mine of civilization. It serves a variety of purposes including the avoidance of human condition's inevitable grief & pain via a flight to racist blame & shame and enables the idolatry of self-worship and the illusion of immortality.. Thus the terror of pogrom's often follows the grief & terror of pandemics.
BM (Austin)
I’m of a Jewish mother but don’t really consider myself Jewish in that I never was raised in any religious way and in a very non-Jewish area. But one can also be pro-Israel while also anti-Zionist and also not anti-Jewish. The media often doesn’t have the space, or time…. To parse out anything more than Twitter-like bumper sticker politics so I’m not surprised that Stephen’s still has a dualistic mindset about people who dare be critical of Israel. While the media does focus on the loudest…. The vast majority are supporters that see the hypocrisy and want it fixed. The same here in the US, from the Right’s perspective- if you criticize you are an anti-American. It’s right there again on the knee jerk anti-CRT misunderstandings
Ira Lacher (Des Moines, Iowa)
@BM I’m Jewish, and I speak out about Israel’s excesses frequently. It hasn’t stopped people from continuing to adopt the impression that we don’t exist.
Jessica (Germany)
Thank you! Well said.
Cecile Hamermesh (Baltimore, MD)
Bless you for this article. I used to get so tired of my parents, Holocaust survivors, seeing world events through a Jewish filter only. When anything happened to anyone, the first question they would ask is: "Is it good for the Jews"? And, inevitably and sadly, I found they were right. I've heard that many people accuse us of being aloof, money hungry, gentile blood suckers and world conspirators who spread disease and corruption. With disdain, they snort the "chosen people." Besides being reviled and despised by both the progressive left and the extremist right, I'm not sure what else we've been chosen for. Hitler would have chuckled at the sight of Kanye, Candice Owens and Marjorie Taylor Greene walking hand-in-hand into that good night blaming the ageless and target-ready scapegoat.
Saramaria (Cincinnati)
Today in Ohio At Miami University, structure commemorating Jewish celebration vandalized Erin Couch Cincinnati Enquirer A sukkah was damaged at Hillel at Miami University on Oct. 15. The Jewish campus organization said three men have since turned themselves in to Oxford police. Wonder what Tucker thinks?
LMartin (UT/FL)
Perfectly stated. Anti-semitism is often cloaked by other political issues, but hating is hating, whether it is Omar et al on the left or right-wingers. That said, the most invidious form is, as seen in the comments, the fallacious attempt to distinguish anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. In my daughter’s college, very elite, there were recently posters place around campus extolling the virtues of Hamas, and alumni blogs declaring Israel was an illegitimate apartheid state. The administration stayed silent, “free speech”, though during BLM “events” there were comments and emails sent literally every day. The Palestinians have done a superb job keeping this narrative alive, despite the fact they advocate the end of the only Jewish nation, are allied with Iran, and literally have no support amongst other Arab countries at this point.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
I like this style Bret's got going with Xi and now Ye.
EP (Utah)
As an atheist, I don’t understand a lot of inter-religious strife. All religions seem odd to me. Why do some Christians and Muslims hate Jewish people so much? I don’t understand Catholics v. Protestants. I don’t understand evangelicals v. Mormons. I don’t understand Christians v. Muslims. I don’t understand Hindus v. Muslims. And I don’t get everyone v. Jewish people. None of these gods are real. So much hate for gods that are fake. That’s a lot of time and energy. To me it’s like Mr. Snuffleupagus v. Teletubies. None of that is real. Having grown up in Manhattan with a large and welcoming Jewish population, I don’t understand why anyone hates such nice people.
LA Woman (Los Angeles)
Thank you for this. It needs to be amplified in today's environment.
Bowden (New York)
Thank you.
Hasan Z Rahim (San Jose)
Kanye West hates blacks and Jews. Can Muslims be far behind? Ye is at best a mediocre artist but without a doubt an unapologetic, virulent racist. People pay attention to his remarks only because he is famous for being famous. It is important for black artists and singers to call out Ye for his racism, narcissism, misogyny and self-regard. Do these characteristics sound familiar? Yes, Ye and Trump are cut from the same cloth.
Mark Keller (Portland, Oregon)
The most charitable thing you can say about anyone who demonizes Jews, or blames them for for their lot in life, is that they are massively ignorant, and are easily manipulated by extremely bad actors who traffic in stereotypes and fear. Wake up, America: antisemitism is not something that died with the Third Reich, nor that is restricted to other places. Rachel Maddow's Ultra podcast is a stark reminder: In the years leading up to World War II, Father Charles Coughlin spewed antisemitism and pro-fascist bile to his weekly radio audience of 30 million people, and he was no paper tiger. Coughlin-inspired, armed organizations of Americans, some of which were supported by the Nazi, German government, planned to start a civil war, to take down our government, and keep America out of the war. In spite of mounting evidence of their activities, the FBI was late to the game, and arrested leaders just days before they were going to set their plan into motion. And let us not forget the 937 Jews aboard the MS St. Louis, who were mostly fleeing Nazi Germany, and were turned away from Miami in 1939, only to return to Europe, where most of them perished. Further, most people remember the 2017 Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally, because of Donald Trump's famous "very fine people on both sides" remark about the white supremacists. Few recall that the crowd angrily chanted "Jews will not replace us". Wake up, America. the disease of antisemitism is just the tip of the iceberg.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Mark Keller Ultra is an excellent sample of the podcast model being used to very good effect.
Denis Montenier (Hudson, Iowa)
@Mark Keller ..Well said, although I would disagree with your statement that "few recall the crowd angrily chanted Jews will not replace us." IMO, most people who watched the video of the riot that day (at least those with a conscience and a modicum of intelligence) have those despicable words indelibly etched on their memories.
no thanx (bay area)
@Mark Keller sadly their ilk do not want to hear/understand facts. hate speech in all forms should be quickly and severly condemmed. i think mr west is becomming irrelevant hence his current tirade.
Jon (NY)
Mr. Stephens: The deafening silence by the GOP and Republican Jewish organizations in recent weeks to Mr. West, Trump's own stereotypical statements about Jewish loyalty, and the 405 overpass sign in Los Angeles by the NeoNazi "Goyim Defense League" is the real story here. Don't use this as an excuse to push your own center-right wing definition of what counts as being pro-Israel and what does not.
mirror (oaktown)
"They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus That means guns, sex, lies, videotape But if I talk about God my record won't get played, huh?"
Dan (Lafayette)
@mirror (Pssst… someone might let Mr. West know that it’s a business decision based on the notion, not without foundation, that the minute he chooses up a religious side, sales are at risk. If he doesn’t like it, he can buy his own radio station and blather on about his chosen sky fairy all he wants. It is, of course, a crowded space.)
Steven Smith (Albuquerque, NM)
Let's talk about the elephant in the room, Christianity. If you ask anybody who makes an antisemitic comment what religion they identify with, I would be very surprised if they don't say Christian. I see antisemitism as religiously based bigotry.
no thanx (bay area)
@Steven Smith that is why the mean, old men, christian nationalist attempt to overturn our society should be quickly and severly condemmed. proud to see so many americans condemn this hate sppech. keep up the good work americans.
John (New York City)
@Steven Smith Why is this comment acceptable on this platform? Is okay to criticize Christians?
Upstate (Northern NY)
@Steven Smith I 'm Catholic with a Jewish brother-in-law and other great Jewish relatives. Please don't paint all of us with such a broad stereotypical stroke.
Em (Los Angeles)
The amount of 'whataboutism' in the comments here is troubling bizarre. Check your blindspots, people.
ALW515 (undefined)
"anti-Zionism has become the antisemitism of our day, echoing the same sordid conspiratorial tropes about Jews as swindlers and impostors." Exactly. It is frightening to hear every classic antisemitic trope repeated only with the word "Zionists" substituted for "Jews" as if somehow asking why "Zionists" controlled the banks and the media or had big noses somehow magically made the comment okay. (Yes it is possible to speak out against the Israeli government without being antisemitic. That is not what is being referenced here.)
Dan (Lafayette)
@ALW515 My understanding of Zionism is largely that it is based on the notion of some Eretz Israel that is a Jewish state based in a country that was Canaanite before it was stolen, and was a Jewish homeland before it was stolen, and is now being stolen to make a reborn Jewish homeland. It may or may not allow practitioners of lesser religions, cultures, and ethnicities to be there. It is at the intersection of religious identity, ethnic identity, and, in modern Israel, nationalist identity. I yearn for a way to get around that, but as long as the Israeli government practices it’s own version of lebensraum, with religion and ethnicity being the deciding factor in who belongs with rights intact, I will be critical of the Israeli government. I note that many Jews are having the same struggle.
Elizabeth Porteous (New York, NY)
I think it's inaccurate to say that anti-Semitism is as much as left wing phenomenon as it is a right wing phenomenon. The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys and assorted other new-Nazi groups are firmly rooted in Trumpism, which has swallowed the GOP whole. Criticism of Israel from the left is more often rooted in concern for human rights violations in the occupied territories.
Ellen Tabor (New York City)
Me too, Bret. Me too. Well said. Israel is now the convenient scapegoat but hatred of the Jew goes way, way back. When we stand up for ourselves we are called pushy. When we do not we get pushed to the ground or into the gas chamber. And still hatred of the Jews is the only permissible hate. We are..fill in the name of a victim, but it is never Jews. Even when we are in fact the victims, again and again. If I am not for myself who will be for me? Hillel asked this about 2000 years ago.
Rob (Fort Lauderdale)
Many of the comments here make excuses for anti Jewish hate. They start with some variation of ‘yes, but…’. It simply proves the point.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Rob No, it doesn’t. I detest Israeli policies with respect to the current and immediately precedent occupants of Palestine. I don’t detest Jews. Unless you are arguing that all Jews support expulsion of Muslim and Christian Arabs from Eretz Israel.
Louis (Canada)
Yes, antisemitism is very much a disease of the radical Left as well and the far Right:
S weinberg. (Not Bizarro Land)
Great piece. Under today’s prevailing woke dogma, Jews are part of the settler colonialist white oppressor part of society. We’re on the wrong side of the identity line. Ye is just a mentally ill distraction. The woke universities are the generators of the current problem
ML (New York)
Finally!! Thank you! The Times is proud of its 1619 Project. I wonder when they will start work on a 110 AD Project, tracing the history of institutionalized anti-semitism. I'm using "110" since that seems to represent the first usage of the term "catholic church," but feel free to use any date you want. The bottom line is anti-semitism pre-dates slavery in America by centuries.
Dan (Lafayette)
@ML “The bottom line is anti-semitism pre-dates slavery in America by centuries.” Zionism, however is a fairly new phenomenon. Both Zionism and the older anti Semitism are detestable. (Hmmm… that sounds like the basis of your 110 Project, from then to now.)
Been There (Upstate)
I know this wasn't just about Kanye West but I do hope that is the last we hear of him from the NYTs.
Steve (Oakland, CA)
Kanye West is literally mentally ill. Let's draw the line there and quit listening to him.
GT (Texas)
Now do misogyny.
Barry Fitzgerald (Los Gatos, California)
Another reason to thank Ye is that he wakened any complacent Jews to join the rest of us, LGBT, non-white, non-christian etc. that it won't be like before when they came after one of us at a time until there were no others to join the fight against bigotry....
Eric (Ocean)
Antisemitism is as much a left wing phenomenom as right wing? Your balance is way off there. That president we just had for 4 years that ran as a right wing antisemite that 70 million voted for? And won? You might say he favors neither left or right.....but he used the right to win. The right, remains out of a wide margin over the left.
MR (New York City)
@Eric Please see AOC & her squad. Brett is spot on. It is a right and left wing problem.
Mor (California)
Antisemitism in the US is appalling, as the FBI figures on hate crimes demonstrate. And it comes from the right and left alike. In fact, antisemitism on the left is worse because it hits Jews where it hurts - in education. California mandatory ethnic studies program initially refused to include Jewish studies. Antisemitic teachers in left-leaning school districts routinely harass Jewish and Israeli students. Antisemitic discrimination against Jewish students and organizations in campuses is a well-known fact. Anti-Zionism is just a fig leaf for good,old-fashioned Jew hatred, which has a long and inglorious tradition on the left. Antisemitism is racism.
Michael Bello (Mountain View, CA)
"Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one" No it is not. No mass murder of Jews came from the left-wing. The left-wing focus is on the class struggle whereas the right-wing is on the racial superiority. Brett, you should know this.
Paul Steep (Toronto)
Times editors might pay attention to this column since they published Lynsey Handleys column reviewing the recent history of the Labour Party without once mentioning it’s well documented problems with antisemitism
Dan (Lafayette)
@Paul Steep The Labour Party is a mover and shaker in American politics and culture? Who knew?
Beck (US)
Try being a Jewish student at a major university now. You stay silent, you keep your head down. You may be tolerated if you sign anti Israel petitions, as some sort of proof that you pass the progressive test. Better to be silent and be invisible.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Beck I guess you’re saying that one must pass some progressive test, instead of just considering ethnic cleansing and annexation to be wrong. Sad.
D.A.Oh (Middle America)
No doubt your conservative readership is thanking Kanye and Bret for distracting the public from Donald Trump's recent antisemitic comments. It's not surprising to hear idiotic comments from someone as unhinged as Ye. But let's not normalize what should be extremely scandalous comments by a former US President and autocratic leader of a major political party directly threatening "U.S. Jews" and telling them how to think.
Dan (Lafayette)
@D.A.Oh I suspect a majority of Jewish folk are not moved the Trump’s threats. Vigilant, but not moved.
Vadim (nyc)
Thank you so much for writing this column. You are the only columnist at NYT who is not afraid to stand up to anti-Semitism. At a time when most Jews in America have settled comfortably in their bubble, here comes Kanye West to remind them that Jew hatred is alive and well. Whether you are on the left or the right, you can not escape anti-Semites. Somehow, Mr. West's hatred is particularly disturbing, because his fame and wealth came from entertainment industry where Jews are well represented. So now we know what was in his heart all along.
Charlie (Austin)
Yet another publicity stunt from Mr. West, gone horribly bad. Yet somehow he simply keeps going, and he always rises again with "fans" and our general culture. Who are the idiots in that equation? -C
Bosox rule (Canada)
Dear Bret, Sorry Bret, we could use a little less of this kind of "publicity" -myself and every other Jew I know
Carl Zeitz (Lawrence NJ)
There are almost 8 billion people in the world. About 17 million are Jews. Do the math. We aren't "replacing" anyone, couldn't if we wanted to and we don't. What? The Holocaust wasn't enough? Do they want to kill the rest of us? And know what, if there were no Jews left in the world, Jews would still be blamed for the problems of the haters, be they white or black. 77 years after Treblinka, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Belzec, and Auschwitz just an anti-semitic thought is a crime equal to murder.
Insignifiant Human 😶 (Montreal)
Anti-Zionism is NOT antisemitism. Many Jews are anti-zionists. Let’s not mix everything up.
Gary Marton (Brooklyn, NY)
@Insignifiant Human 😶 In theory, you are right; in practice, anti-Zionism is often a disguise for antisemitism.
Shear Shred (Professor Peabody& The Way Back machine)
Antisemitism is just another form of racism, and Ye has well documented episodes of hypomania and bipolar tendencies of a megalomaniac. Maybe Ye’s obvious heritage of being a Black person excuses his Antisemitic racism? Naaah, Ye is a crazy person. IMHO, most racists must be crazy. How can a rational person believe that all of the problems of the world are due to one race or tribe of people?
Sara (NY)
If only the objects of vile hatred could unite. If only every group that faces violent attacks could vote against such political movements. Perhaps the Left erred in encouraging the 'Balkanization' of victimhood- where many groups cry out for fairness & safety. -LGBTQI -BPoC -Asians -Jews -Immigrants -Disabled -Poor -Labor -Blue collar workers There must be a new way to organize sanity & civility- create a shared purpose: Equal protection under the law ! Separation of Church & State...Freedom from bias, hate, violence and white supremacism. Taxation with representation !
Bob (NJ)
I still have no idea why anyone would pay attention to this clown. He’s just another empty narcissist looking for attention.
Dennis (Bridgewater NJ)
@Bob Your point is well taken. But popular culture has a way of amplifying the message of empty narcissists, kind of a social media version of Gresham's Law. Ugly and hateful drives out rational and kind, unless we all stand for good every day.
John (CA)
Why no mention over the continued blatant antisemitism of “The Squad”? The left gets a pass on hate speech?
Leigh (Qc)
Meanwhile the former guy has never really been called out for characterizing Jews in all sorts of obnoxious ways from castigating those who don't support him as traitors to Israel to openly admitting he believes only Jews have the smarts required to act as his accountants. Views such as these concerning Jews may seem relatively benign to some, but to this reader they not only come across as being amongst the very most obnoxious, but also the most dangerous.
Scott (Brookfield)
I guess this ends the debate as to whether people of color can be racist.
Yossarian (Maine)
I raised my children as jews because I knew they would always be Jewish enough for the nazis so they may as well have the comfort of a great cultural inheritance. Every 50 to 80 years the western world pauses and thinks “isn’t there something we haven’t done in a while.”
JoeA (Cali)
What NYT readers fail to realize is that there always has been a constant, daily drumbeat of antisemitism on many of the right leaning and libertarian websites on this big internet. You just need to know where to look. Believe me, it's very ugly out there.
Elle (Buffalo)
How can it be that “antisemitism infects corners of Black politics” when Jews and Blacks share a common history - having been enslaved, hated, ostracized, persecuted, subject to discrimination, murdered…
Jewish-American (Indianapolis)
Enough of the anti-Semitism, the racism, the building walls, the denying the atrocities of history, superiority, etc. Come on, people. Just treat others as you want to be treated. Or maybe that's it. You hate yourself. So you treat others the way you think you should be treated. Well, I don't hate you. I just want you to choose kindness instead of hatred.
no thanx (bay area)
@Jewish-American antisemitism = jealousy
B. (New York City)
Antisemitism is where extreme right and extreme left meet.
MR (New York City)
Thank you
Harry Perkal (Bronx, New York)
Honest would admit that there are also corners within the American Jewish community that racism exist, and that too many Israelis are racist, given the treatment of Obama and Palestinians. Victims can also be victimizers, whether it is Jews, Blacks, or Arabs.
KM (mid am)
And yet, anyone can say anything about white Americans and no one will blink. But billionaires of Jewish ancestry like Larry Fink (owner of Blackrock) and George Soros get to hide behind “persecuted minority status”. Truly remarkable!
no thanx (bay area)
@KM i feel sorry for george soros. the poor man is financing trillions of $ of left wing hate.
The left is definitely increasingly anti Israel, just look at the squad.
Sam C (Denver)
One thing that truly makes Kanye West a human disgrace is that he is trying to make a wedge between my black gentile brothers and sisters and us Jews. We have a long history of support each other in times of need. And black folk have continued to stand up for Jews. To those who condemn this bigot, please reach out to someone Jewish and let them know they matter, are loved, and a member of our community. I promise you this is extremely painful for us and the threats towards the Jewish community have grossly spiked in the last 2 weeks. I have two small nieces and a mother who attend/work in a Jewish school and I’m afraid of their safety now.
Sam C (Denver)
@Clyde Benke I have no idea how that would be related. Ask a better question please.
Myrna Hill (Los Angeles)
No, leftist critics of Israel don't hate Jews any more than critics of Saudi or Iran hate Muslims or critics of Russia hate Russians. We hate oppression. If a government behaves badly, we condemn it. Including Israel.
Ed Martin (Michigan)
My attitude toward Kanye West can best be summed up as, “So long, I hardly knew Ye.” His self-importance, arrogance and incoherent ramblings contribute nothing positive to society beyond a warning of where we should never go as people.
sk (palm beach)
Why are we elevating the opinion of a rapper and a fashion designer to mean so much. What is wrong with the old good approach of saying: "shut up and dribble". Or not saying anything at all. Ye is a product of his environment and cannot help himself, I suspect, whether he does it because of conviction or for self promotion. The "chosen" people are/were always chosen for abuse in one form or another. We have seen the "Yees" (plural) come and go in the past 6000 years. He will be gone as well and we will still be here.
NA (Montreal)
If someone says anything derogatory about Jewish folks we have such an uproar but what about derogatory stuff said with regards to Christians, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? We should have a similar uproar. Why was it ok for that French magazine to publish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed? It shouldn't have been and that magazine should have been banned. If something said bad about tge Jews is bad, then anything said bad about any other religion is equally bad.
David Williams (San Diego county)
"Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one." False. As you know anti-semetisim explosed in 2016, as reported by the ADL, and continued at record rates from there. Now exactly what happened in 2016? Hmm, let me think. I know, an openly bigoted racist was elected president of the United States. I wonder if there's more bigoted hate coming from the left or right? I don't think it's a hard question to answer.
no thanx (bay area)
@David Williams be a part of the solution, donate to the southern poverty law center.
mich (li)
wow! you have managed to put together one of the most insightful and clear explanations of modern antisemitism that I have ever read. Thank you for this.
Aurace Rengifo (Miami Beach, FL)
I completely agree. Ye should consider similar tweets about Venezuelan immigrants displaced by DeSantis, Women, Latins, and African Americans... A hater is a hater across the board.
JT - John Tucker (Ridgway, CO)
Jews are targeted and at risk whenever lies are used to target and blame "Others" for current problems. Jews are conflated with "elites, intellectuals, communists, socialists." This Republican Party promotes or sanctions such scapegoating. Republican leaning Jews tolerate lies and attacks on institutional democracy to support a party that makes a home for racists and white nationalists. Why? Is a tax rate of 36% rather than 39% so important? Do they want to place US and world support of Ukraine against Russian aggression in doubt? Is allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices anathema to the Constitution? Are they dedicated to the state forcing women to give birth after rape? No. Bewildering to me how these smart "conservatives" understand their support of a party creeping toward pogroms differently. Mr. Stephens is one of them and should write why he would empower a party trafficking in prejudice and innuendo that will certainly manifest in violence against Jews in the future.
Mark (Heyman)
Almost linked but got to this: "Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one. " That simply not true and it kind of killed the whole piece for me
Absolutely valid to raise the much ignored anti-semitism in the society. Similarly, ignored is the anti-Hindu sentiment (call it anti-Vedic) in America that is brushed aside and erroneously explained off in political terms and where Hindus are always portrayed as the culprits. Apparently, Hindus are not allowed to assert their dignity nor rights in India or other countries, including the US. Just check out the media coverage about Hindus in India and the US by the NYT.
hally (paris, france)
hmmmmm, pretty good article but there are a few echos of right wing agenda here. firstly, many jews are not necessarily zionist, including myself american /israeli. even i view zionism as ethnocentrism, very dangerous. secondly, anti israeli sentemiment is NOT the same as anti semitism. many jews, internationally, separate themselves from the policies of a particularly curropt and intolerant regime. yes it has its strong points, no doubt, but they have violated the geneva convention, basic civil rights, for decades. not at all a good look. SO, beware, this essay tastes like the view of the UJA. we can criticize Kayne but let's not get carried away.
@hally Zionism is not “right wing.”
jack (Las Vegas)
I like Jews and agree with Bret about the prevalence of antisemitism. But, "the Jewish people’s status as an oft-persecuted minority goes increasingly unrecognized?" That's stretching the incidents of public harassment a little too far. According to Google, examples of persecution include the confiscation or destruction of property, incitement of hatred, arrests, imprisonment, beatings, torture, murder, and executions.
beaujames (Portland Oregon)
Thank you, Bret, for this column. Since this is the second time I've said this recently, it's possible that you're finding a better voice than your previous one. Anti-Semitism is and always has been a problem of both left and right in the United States, ranging from FDR's Cabinet to the "Camp Auschwitz" visitor to the Capitol so greatly appreciated by the Former Guy almost 2 years ago (thank you Ken Burns for making that your closing piece in your recent 6-hour documentary series). Tom Lehrer got it spot on in his song, "National Brotherhood Week" with the line "And everybody hates the Jews."
Disillusioned (NJ)
The very existence of a conversation about antisemitism is dreadfully appalling. How can any Americans in 2022 harbor hatred for other Americans because of race or religion? How can we not have evolved beyond this deplorable attitude? Why isn't everyone (political leaders, athletes, scholars, actors, students, clergy, etc.) decrying racial and religious hatred whenever they have an opportunity to do so? Is humankind condemned to live with this disease forever?
Beth (Colorado)
Mr Stephens overlooks the fact that West and Trump are great pals, for obvious reasons.
Laurie Fannin (Wisconsin)
I was born to a Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother. My father was a well respected doctor whose patients included people who were happy to be treated by him, but would not let him into their country club or sell him land on Lake Champlain. Jews will know that since I was not born of a Jewish mother I was not "actually Jewish" but I have always considered it my ethnicity. I feel like a Jew. Whatever that means. Regardless, I have been on the receiving end of a million tiny aggressions my entire life. Listening to people claim they were "Jew-ed" out of something, a middle school teacher (Mrs. Cilley... I'm calling you out) who wrote in the margins of my report on the Holocaust "This never happened", being chastised by a priest when I pointed out that Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jew and therefore definitely not blonde and blue eyed... the list goes on. My father ended up as the first Chairman of the Dept. of Family Practice at the University of Vermont School of Medicine. I am 65 and he has been gone 33 years. When I married in 1988, walked down the aisle by my father who had never quite recovered from a fairly serious stroke, I had my reception at the very country club which had denied him admittance all those years ago. My husband and I are not country club type people, more picnic and bonfire, but to walk in those doors on the arm of my 70 year old Jewish dad felt like a victory of sorts. Sometimes, it's the little things...
David H (Northern Va.)
Just a reminder to those who think Israel has not tried to address the disposition of the territories: Many here may not be aware that at the time UN resolution 242 was passed in November 1967, there were only two working languages at the UN -- English and French. --The English language version of 242 refers to an ambiguous "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." --The French version refers is more specific, referring to a withdrawal from "the territories": "Retrait des forces armées israéliennes des territoires occupés lors du récent conflit." As you can see, there is a fundamental disconnect here, as the English language text implies that Israel is expected ultimately to demand (and retain) certain territory captured in the war. The Palestinians prefer the French language version, as it implies an Israeli withdrawal from 100% of the West Bank / Jerusalem. I recall that about 25 years ago, the late Shimon Peres gave a speech to the Knesset in which he suggested that 242 be renegotiated so as to create conditions for a successful negotiation. Until that happens -- and unless the two sides to the conflict sit down to negotiate directly, everything -- EVERYTHING -- that is cooked up by the rest of the world will be nothing more than a band aid, no matter how well-intentioned.
Chris Williams (Chicago)
I would like the media to engage in a little bit of historical analysis when antisemitism is expressed publicly - get into the substance of the actual allegation, this idea that Jews secretly control all the money, etc. This belief has justified attacks on Jewish people since the first century, and continued on in Europe and Russia for centuries after. Give the public a little history lesson. These accusations against Jews usually precede a pogrom. I think the modern world has built-in protections against new pogroms, but no protection is absolute. Link what Ye said to past mass murders, show the connection. This is not a criticism of the piece here, I think overall this op-ed is really good. But let's start seeing antisemitism in its historical context - when we do, the horribleness of it all is magnified.
Jeff (Los Angeles)
Thank you Bret, an article that is spot on about anti-semitism in the United States.
Greg (Lyon, France)
"Or take Israel itself. Is the Jewish state so uniquely evil that, alone among 193 U.N. member states, it has no moral right to exist? I sincerely doubt that many doubt Israel's right to exist. This is a tired and worn cliche being repeated by Mr. Stephens for dramatic effect. No, Mr. Stephens, we do not challenge Israel's right to exist. We challenge Israel's refusal to allow the State of Palestine to exist. We challenge Israel's violations of international law. We challenge Israel's human rights abuse. We challenge Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and it's and oppression of the Palestinian people.
Jewish-American (Indianapolis)
As a Jewish-American, I stand with all of my other Jewish-Americans right now and with Bret Stephens speaking out. Hate should have no place in our country. I don't care who is spouting it. No one is so famous, powerful, or influential that he gets a pass on hate speech, Kanye West included.
Allen James 🏳️‍🌈 (Hudson Valley, NY)
Another good discussion from Stephens, it’s unfortunate we’re still having to educate people about antisemitism. I take a small exception to the inclusion of Jewish extremist sects like certain chasidic groups who treat their non chasidic neighbors with contempt. Being Jewish and not chasidic, I can tell you we have a problem with the chasidic community in New York. Many times I’ve seen chasidic Jews abuse the people who work in stores, especially those of color, not to say a nonviolent action deserves violence in return but sometimes there’s more to it than just antisemitism.
Joedoc (New York)
To understand the perverisity so well highlighted by Brett Stephens, read David Baddiel, Jews Don't Count. He explains why in today's enviroment anti-semitism is seen as a lesser form of racism and is insidious in the current left as well as right.
Gobears (Los Angeles)
As a pretty left-leaning Jewish atheist Angelino, I am in agreement with everything said here. It is not talked about enough that extremes on both ends of the political spectrum tend to target Jewish people. One thing left out of the column - how can it be that any American Jew currently supports the Republican Party? Trump is anti-semitic, even with a daughter who converted, and he leads the Party. His most loyal is unabashedly anti-semitic - the column notes Tucker Carlson. The vast majority of anti-semitic acts in the United States are perpetrated by Chrisitian nationalists. It boggles the mind when Jews themselves support the worst offenders of anti-semiticism. Is it really that important to have an embassy in Jerusalem when the Party advocating for doesn't view Jews as equal?
JC from KC (Kansas City, MO)
True that. But it also might be appropriate to acknowledge Ye's behavior for what is is: paranoid schizophrenia. Is racism in all of its forms is fundamentally a mental illness? it is at least a mental illness on the order of a phobia, although its effects are much more consequential than other phobias. If we recognize it as a mental illness, that might finally provide a way of addressing it.
Reality check (Julian ca)
Bravo. The most candid commentary ever presented in a prominent USA journal.
BC (New York City)
I disapprove of any state that proclaims itself to be based on any particular religion. That is a very deep principle, since religious dogma does more to divide humanity than not. Does that make me antisemitic? I consider Zionism a danger in multiple ways, all of which are based on my own political points of view. Nonetheless, according to what I hear in Mr. Stephens' both-sides-do-it nonsense, I am to be counted among the Jew haters. This is very interesting logic, suitable for the very interesting times we are all enduring.
Seamus (New York)
What baffles me is that Kanye or anyone of color cannot see that when they disparage another ethnicity they demean themselves. Self-hatred is a lashing out at some "other" and perpetuates that low esteem. Sometimes the hardest thing is to ask for help.
Swimmingdog (Cortland, Ohio)
Thank you, Brett Stephens, for your well-written condemnation of hate speech espoused by factions of the left as well as the far-right cabal of "Jew-haters." Kanye West's bigotry comes, ironically, as HBO runs the documentary "A Tree of Life" about the massacre of eleven Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue, a temple I attended on occasion while growing up in Pittsburgh. The tragedy of four years ago will sadly be repeated as long as this hate speech flourishes. We must be vigilant.
Ellen Diamond (Oakland, CA)
Once again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Bret, for your excellent piece on antisemitism. Having just returned from central Europe I toured countries where the Jewish community was decimated less than a century ago, and all that is left are buildings and ghosts. It seems that antisemitism is a virus that lurks in the body politic. Sometimes it’s dormant, then it flares up at times of stress, but it never goes away. I’ve lived in the SF Bay Area for 50 years and in the last 10 to 15 years I have been appalled at the acceptance of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric that has become so commonplace here. I’m grateful for your voice of reason and always enjoy your articles.
Merlin (Minneapolis, MN)
Trump, Kanye, Lindell, Alex Jones, MGT, Boebert, Gaetz, Cruz - the list goes on and on of people addicted to playing characters and the attention that comes from it. The disgusting downside of our advances in tech and media.
Alex Kent (Westchester)
I’ve never understood anti-semitism. In junior high school we had one girl who was Jewish and we all got along fine with her. She got more holidays than the rest of us, for the Jewish high holy days, so we were a bit jealous, but nothing came of it. I just don’t get it.
Chuck Naill (Tennessee)
Interesting replies...4 If ever there was a time to understand we need each other, some, and even wealthy, influential, think otherwise. I cannot help but point out that the person of comment is an African American which says anyone can be a bigot or worse. While I am not a pop music consumer or fan, those that ever paid money to listen to him can now consider perhaps they bet on the wrong horse.
smvisa (Montreal, Canada)
Well done, Brett.
Mirel Gold (NJ)
Thank you! Thank you! Thanks for putting out there what everyone I know has been seeing for years. The hate, disgust and scorn of Jews is so deeply ingrained in Western history and thought that it has become the invisible engine of mainstream conversation and opinion.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita Ks, Homosassa Fl)
This very unstable not genius is a perfect example of our trashy, reality TV “culture”. But yes, he is good for something, as related in this piece. I’m tired of hearing and reading about him. Move along.
Maia (Providence, Ri)
Ye is like the disruptive, annoying child who constantly seeks attention with negative behavior. We should respond to him the same way we'd respond to that child- either ignore him, or better yet, put him in "Time Out" so that the media can find truly worthwhile people to write about.
Miguel Sanchez (San Juan, PR)
If an envisioned Palestinian state committed to accommodating and protecting Jews, just as 2 million Arabs live safely in Israel proper, the conflict would likely come to a peaceful resolution. But would that in any way mitigate a centuries-old Jew hatred? Of course not.
caseworker (West)
I'm not sure what it is about human nature where we promote egotistical bullies--in all areas. I always found his music meh, and his theatrics worse. Part of his formula for success has always been shoving the "you don't get his genius" line in your face. Maybe, if we have to be bullied into liking something/someone, maybe they never really deserved the cred they got? Got Musk? Got Trump? Got Thomas Pynchon?
Alex K (Boston)
Thank you, Mr. Stephens, for your courage and your honesty. Clear, unbending statements of the facts are the antithesis of the coward “Ye” and his grotesque tweets, and exactly what America needs.
ISR (Olney, MD)
Thank you Bret for writing this piece which points out this type of hatred that is becoming more prevalent to not only to the left but to the right, Most surprising of all is the hate currently generated by the left wing of Democratic Party. Let me alos point out the "soft" anti-semitism that was prevalent years ago and remains at some levels today. The need for Jews and white ethnics as well as Asians to have significantly higher grades and test scores to gain entry to colleges and into entry level jobs. How about Federal agencies constantly hounding executives to to develop statistical breakouts of its employees racial classifications ao it can balance "DEI" needs. Or the non-promotion of Jews in local, state and Federal governments due to the needs of DEI of which Jews had no part in establishing an imbalance but were part of the discriminated group. Yes. Ye's anti-semitism is despicable, however, at least it is out in the open and can be dealt with. But the silent type that is still out there today is no less despicable.
SFtastic (silicon valley)
I think its best not to declare what "Berkeley and any other public law school would do for a speaker who believes in trans rights" because you have no idea what they "would do". Better to stick to actual reality and not fabricate non-existent scenarios to illustrate your point.
Jack (NY)
I agree with the gist of your article. However, insinuating "most Jews" are in support of Zionism is not helpful for the cause. Judaism is a religion and Zionism is a political ideology. Not distinguishing between the two is intellectually lazy.
M Andrew (FL)
Remember, no such thing as bad publicity. Stop shining a spotlight on this hate mongering person.
BFan (Santa Barbara)
Kanye, Kardashians, Trump... shamelessness is a super power. Until it isn't.
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
Racial, ethnic, religious, gender one-upmanship or one-downmanship, if you prefer, is unseemly on the so-called left, which has forgotten that "left" once meant something about class, in competition to claim most "intersectional" victimhood. It is every bit as unseemly when it is performed on behalf of Jews, compared against all others, as if being the target of hate crimes were a zero sum game only one group could "win."
James L. (New York)
Bret, you're on the money here. I would only add that Ye's reported bipolar condition is also being used as a scapegoat by a "salient majority" for his blatant antisemitism and MAGA bigotry, as if he were, as they say, "taking his meds," he wouldn't be as contemptible. It's just antisemitic dog-whistling. Medication isn't his problem and won't help his toxicity.
Liam (Arkansas)
I agree that it's wrong to single out Israel among all the other United Nations as having no right to exist -- no state on this planet has any legitimate right to exist.
Heather (San Diego, CA)
The loss of civility in American discourse has many negative ramifications. One is that people suffering from mental illnesses that cause obsession, delusion, and paranoia are easily influenced by demonstrations of hatred. The terrible tendency of bipolar disorder is that sufferers self-destruct. They burn every bridge around them, and when they are in a more lucid frame of mind are often horrified by their disturbed behavior. What is happening to Kanye should be a reminder that those of us fortunate to not be living with mental illness ought to be models of civility. Not only for the children—as adults once did—but for those struggling with their intemperate minds. When someone like Donald Trump espouses anti-Semitism*, he creates a super-spreader event of hate. And those most likely to act on his venom are those like Kanye who struggle to live with the turmoil in their minds. *“During a 2019 speech to the Israeli American Council, Trump told those assembled: ‘A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers. Not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me; you have no choice.’ He summarized his point by saying these people would have to support him out of financial self-interest.”
Michael Robinson (Los Angeles)
Lester Young cited Benny Goodman as a key progenitor of his style, exemplifying the profound spiritual and intellectual love Jewish and African Americans share for each other. Charlie Christian, Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton and Benny were magical together.
Lampyris (USA)
Informative, and stated from heart and mind. Why do hate mongers and divisive rhetoric get so much attention in the media? The examples of the Hollywood museum that excluded remembrance of movie greats because they were Jews, and some Berkeley student groups that want to exclude Jews from speaking, are eye openers. There should be a root cause analysis of why such hatred exists, and there should be a greater emphasis on genuine respect for all religions and people, in our news media, especially. Honest discussions, YES, but spouting of denigration of others, NO. One Adolf was more than enough.
bonemri (NJ,USA)
Jesus was jewish and his face is the face of compassion . Maybe Ye is having mental health issues , maybe Ye is tired of his persona and character he has to play. Maybe Ye needs some compassion . It is easy to like those that are easy and lovable . Maybe Ye IS the path to compassion as he challenges you to not engage , to not hate , to be human . There is a lot of violence in all this division
A. Guy (NX)
I am a Reform Jew who believes Kanye West is a waste of time and energy, a spotlight hog who didn’t know when to leave the stage | and it got him in some well-deserved trouble. Antisemitism is plenty prevalent throughout our society, whether overt or covert. It doesn’t need Kanye to exemplify it - but it also doesn’t need the abuses perpetrated by some of the Orthodox to reinforce it (the disgraceful yeshiva scandal, for example, both for the graft and for the dismal education they provide). West has problems, out there for all of us to see; what is the excuse of the Hasidim who have punched their own people in the gut?
dave godinez (Kansas City, Mo.)
Is it even news when a pop, fashion and tabloid personality natters on about issues outside their narrow range of professional interests? I realize that due to social media they have an outsized voice, but since their true realm is limited to cyberspace, we should all remind ourselves that they likely don't know what they're talking about. It would be just as well for the press to adopt that attitude too, and stop giving air to such babble.
Robin (New Jersey)
Thank you. What is also troublesome is the excuse by many that most of us don't "look Jewish", "sound Jewish" or have "Jewish" names. That we can hide in plain sight so the antisemitism can be downplayed. Microaggressions that were they to be applied to a person of color would not be tolerated.
David (Maryland)
Stephens identifies a greatly under-reported story: "antisemitism infects corners of Black politics as much as it infects the politics of white supremacy." The failure of any serious examination of black antisemitism is a major omission of current journalism. There is an apparent reluctance to describe black attitudes and behaviors in a negative light. For the media this group has been sheltered from opprobrium of any kind. It's about time some responsible folks took a closer look at the troubling attitude in the black community regarding the Jews, a people who have consistently supported black aspirations even at the cost of their lives.
left coast finch (L.A.)
@David See my comment about the Original Sin of Jews, the rejection (and crucifixion) of Jesus as their supposed “Messiah” which God saw as “turning their backs” on him. I can only describe the white evangelical church I attended as a child but the rejection of Jesus as messiah is the supposed reason God turned his back on Jews and “allowed” everything that’s happened to them since. If I heard it in the white church, I’m sure it’s heard in the black church which got its religion from white slaveholders. This rejection of Jesus trope has been the foundation of Christian anti-semitism in all of its colors for the last two thousand years. It’s time we expose and repeatedly publicize its roots because that’s why it simply won’t die. It’s being kept alive by religion itself.
Leaf and Pen (NYC)
"...they would not host any speakers who support Zionism, a move that is tantamount to the exclusion of most Jews." Please stop talking about antisemitism and Israel in the same breath. This conflation is what's stoking antisemitism on the left, turning those who would be or used to be our allies against us, and ripping our tribe apart, too. We are a diaspora community. Israel is a foreign power with policies that some of us support and some of us abhor.
JJ.Gross (Jerusalem)
The most horrifying thing about this whole disgusting story is that someone like a Kanye can actually be a mass influencer, that intergalactic corporations would shell out billions for his blessing on their products, that millions of imbeciles actually pay for his noise and consider it music. Yes, antisemitism in America is widespread and metastasizing. But what must be noted is that its wellsprings are located among the dregs of American culture - be it academic, entertainment or journalistic. And this speak more of the degeneration and vulgarity of an entire society that is forever in the quest of a new lowest common denominator.
Tim (Upstate New York)
Of course, Israel is not "uniquely evil", that's absurd, Bret. It's leaders though have sometimes spoken from both sides of its mouth to assuage the "liberal" view of a two state solution while remaining disingenuous to actually effecting change. That said, antisemitism has always hummed in the background for centuries and needs to be monitored and extricated from any discussion of a Israeli / Palestinian State.
Anderson (New York)
Anti-semitism is ignored just like the wave of unjustified attacks on Asian people over the last few years was ignored. These groups are seen as doing better than others in education and financially so they get less sympathy.
Lou Candell (Williamsburg, VA)
Hey Bret, Do you honestly think that, if Ye actually read your column (doubtful), he would understand it (also doubtful)?
Sharon (Upstate South Carolina)
Oprah once said, perhaps paraphrasing someone else, “when people show you who they are, believe them.” Kanye West should have been cancelled a long time ago when he marched on stage to proclaim that Beyoncé, much to her horror, had been robbed of her award by the young Taylor Swift. He was showed what a narcissistic megalomaniac he was then, and guess what? I believed him.
Paul (Rio de Janeiro)
"High Levels of Crime in Minority Neighborhood Lead Police Officer to Kneel on Man’s Neck for Eight Minutes.” Actually, half the country believes that, as ridiculous as you wanted to make it sound.
Sallie (NYC)
Kanye West is mentally ill (he has talked about his bipolar disorder) and the mentally ill are especially susceptible to conspiracy theories like the ones being peddled by right wing leaders and media. I hope Kanye gets the help he needs, and that we stop giving republican leaders a pass on the racism and antisemitism that they encourage to get votes.
Davarino (Cleveland, OH)
It is legit to distinguish between one's overall feelings about Jews and one's view of Israel. Rabid anti-semitism of the type that has existed for centuries is a scourge that pre-existed Israel and remains strong to this day. As a. strong supporter of Israel's right to exist, I recognize the right of the many people who are not anti-semitic and have no issues with Jews generally to question Israel's policies. The big problem is that anti-semitism has been politicized by many of Israel's foes that have merged/equated hatred of Israel with hatred of Jews.
Cassandra59 (New England)
Your best column. Well written, factual, timely and a wakeup call for anyone who thinks this is a drill. Antisemitism has (heartbreakingly) always been with us but it has been mainstreamed in the US since the POTUS called Neo-Nazis very fine people. The bully pulpit indeed- the bully in chief gave the green light for haters to come out of the closets wearing their hoods. Before 2016, I never thought what happened in Germany could happen here. I no longer have that luxury of thought. Whenever I hear calls by mobs and even politicians, alarmingly frequently, that we need to “take back our country to its founding as a white, Christian nation” I see how it starts. We never were a “Christian” nation. The Founders explicitly rejected creating a monarchy or a theocracy, but those who don’t read or understand history will not be persuaded.
Glenn (Brentwood, CA)
My family fled the Tsar in Russia and Lithuania at the turn of the 19th Century to Canada and then the US. If one knows anything about anti-Semitism it is this: Countries like Poland and Spain that once welcomed Jews, and even courted their involvement in society, ended up being not only inhospitable but dangerous to life for Jews. Germany once had a thriving Jewish population also. The belief that "it can't happen here" is delusional, after all this is a country that committed genocide on native Americans and imprisoned Japanese in concentration camps ,and perpetrated Jim Crow for 100 years. I have spent 2 years getting my dual Canadian citizenship from my dad's heritage, so I am prepared for the worst. Read or watch Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America" to see just where this could go. This is also why Israel exists, just in case there is nowhere else to flee.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
The "right of return" is a big existential reason why American Jews become Republicans and support the GOP and its unquestioning backing of Israel's rightwing governments. The hierarchy of importance is having a place to flee to when necessary; as long as that is preserved, a transitory government in Jerusalem and its ugly policies can be forgiven anything. It's basically a selfish position.
Caddisman (The Great Northwet)
Democracy and "Jewish state" are self-cancelling. You can be for one or the other, but not both. America had the same problem in 1787. In our case it was how to keep Blacks, women, native Americans, etc., out of the democratic equation. And we're still dealing with it 235 years later.
michjas (Phoenix)
I am Jewish and I’m a prosecutor. So I’m very familiar with hate crimes. And not all hate crimes are the same. A large number of hate crimes against the LGBTQ involve violent attacks on the person, maiming and clubbing and the like. As for hate crimes against Jews, the majority are graffiti swastickas. So if you attend to the numbers, Jews are the main target of hate crimes. But if you attend to the severity, the LBGTQ fare much, much worse.
Molly (California)
This is a great starting point for an ongoing discussion of continuing anti-Semitism in the US today on all sides of the political aisle.
Paulf (LA)
Ye is seriously unstable, impulsive, and I do not take his statements any more seriously than if he was a homeless guy wandering the streets, talking to himself. You assign him the same intellectual awareness as if he were "normal," so if he says something literally "crazy" against the Jewish People, then that's proof that anti-semiticism is rampant. Maybe you are simply focusing on nothing more than the tendency of humans to negatively judge each other across all realms, ranging from dark-skin bias, to women not being willing to date "short guys," to how obsessed we are with beauty, how turned off we are to the aged and the infirm, etc.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
He is famous and, in some circles, admired and followed as an influencer. Therefore, what he says matters a lot more than what any run-of-the-mill crazy person ranting in a street corner says - even when it is the same thing.
jason (Detroit)
It's a Left Problem. In traditional Jewish Circles, an Anti Semite brandishing a gun (although dangerous) can be killed and the threat is gone. On the other hand, Anti Semites in Nice Clothing and with Articulate Speach (Congresswoman Tailib) are much more dangerous as their "ideas" last and have influence. It's not even close.
Jimmy T (San Francisco)
Once again Bret makes his shameful argument that antisemitism is as much of an issue on the left as on the right. by doing so, Bret engages in a form of Holocaust denial by minimizing the impact of the Holocaust. This is absolutely disgusting and he should be ashamed of himself for engaging in this sort of transparent false equivalency.
nigel cairns (san diego)
Americans are depressed because of smartphones (people can no longer manage a face to face conversation) and covid 19 (enforced isolation). so they want someone to blame. Any minority will do (they can't fight back)-Jews, gays, trans, even women. And our politicians love discord.
Paul (Huntington, NY)
Thank you, Bret, for playing offense.
Edwina (New York)
Kanye West's antisemitism and internalized anti-Black racism are abhorrent. I am exceedingly happy that the former at least has led to his precipitous downfall and put a significant dent in his ability to generate wealth. As I've said before, I think that the brother should have thought twice about dropping out of college - he clearly could have benefitted from higher education, particularly on both Black history and Jewish history. However, Stephens, as he is wont to do, extrapolates West's disgusting beliefs and behaviors well beyond where he should and engages in racial stereotyping. Who are these Black folks engaging in antisemitism? Are you referring to Farrakhan? Bret Stephens clearly does not know many Black people or have any meaningful ties to Black communities if he thinks any significant proportion of African Americans follow the lead of antisemites and misogynists like Farrakhan. Out-of-touch pundits love to declare certain people "Black leaders" - when in fact the overwhelming majority of the ~45M African Americans in the country neither identify with nor follow these so-called leaders. Lastly, it is rich for Stephens to attempt to equate progressives and conservatives on the critical issue of antisemitism. I wonder how many white supremacists in Charlottesville chanting "Jews will not replace us" were progressives? How many of the violent hate crimes against Jewish Americans were committed by progressives?
Haf100 (Orleans, MA)
There is no denying the righteous anger directed toward “Ye” by Stephens. Yet, some should be directed toward Trump. who has shown that telling lies and offering outrageous commentary advances one’s popularity in a culture where social media and the internet can give an idiot instant popularity, influence and power. How to fix this is the biggest problem society has to grapple with now.
Jeff (Mississauga ON)
Stephens says, "Is the Jewish state so uniquely evil that, alone among 193 U.N. member states, it has no moral right to exist?" But that is in fact the position of Israel and the US, which have endorsed the IHRA definition of antisemitism. That definition makes into an antisemite everyone who wants equal rights for the millions who have spent their entire lives under Israeli rule, but have been denied them because of their race. Under that definition, supporting equal rights is antisemitism because it might mean the end of Israel as a Jewish majority state. But 99% of the world's population (if not 99% of its governments) believes in equal rights. So according to Israel & the US, 99% of the world's population is antisemitic. The problem is even worse than Stephens makes out!
MIM (Portland)
Well said sir. And it needs to be said more often, unfortunately. The antisemitism on the Right is flagrant and usually chanted out loud. On the Left it is more subtle and comes from a place of confusion due to the oppressed hierarchy prism in which the Left sees the world. That combined with the ignorant belief that racism requires power, which is a classic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations. At least the antisemites on the Right own their ignorance by chanting their racism. On the Left we act as if our racism is doesn’t exist. Worse yet, we act as if it is a good deed.
Louis (Canada)
Hello Bret, Have a look at the recent "Laith Marouf" affair in Canada if you want (yet another) example of the way that antisemitism has infected the "antiracist" Left and the governments that subsidize them. It is very depressing, if unsurprising. Plus ça change...
Patrick (Richmond VA)
Stop giving him press time ugh he isn’t news he is barely pop culture and he is acting out like a mentally I’ll person with no resources to help him, he doesn’t want help-like many in the world.
Montessahall (Elk River, Minnesota)
“Ye” has only exposed in broad daylight a long held “secret” among many rightwing republicans; Anti-semitism. Now, observe the spinning and lying to follow in response to the exposure.
Kerm (Wheatfields)
A comment here this morning gets 315 recommends and one of the statements : "Obviously, hatred of, and conspiracy theories associate with, the Jewish people have been around forever..." So tell us why this is from your Jewish/Israeli perspective. No idea what Ye's beef (or why you even listen to him) is, but would love to hear why people's from everywhere forever have felt this way towards your group, again from your perspective. This person is not the only one who knows this and thinks this. "...this has been one of the most underreported stories in the country — itself a telling indicator in an era that is otherwise hyper-attuned to prejudice and hate." It's not just this era and it is reported and many many people know it exists and takes place regularly. This is not new. It is as old as the world. Open a dialogue... you already have started, continue it. Ross has no problem with his religion.
Jerome (Syracuse)
The great thing about KW's comments is that it exposes the ignorance and hate that are part of his being. His openness makes it easy for us to see the real person for who he is as opposed to the folks that veil their hate by a smile.
Gary (New Mexico)
As a strong supporter of Israel, Bret confounds antisemitism with anti Zionism. There is a less than noble interest at work here, one that, among other things, sweeps plenty of young American Jews into a camp where they do not want to be. Opposition to Israeli policies is common among young Jews who would reject Bret’s assertions about Jews as a group. His example from Berkeley is illustrative: the student groups objected not to Jews but to Zionism, but Bret tells us they are the same thing. They are not. While surely criticism of Israel can cloak antisemitism, not all such criticism follows from antisemitism, contrary to what Bret wants us to believe. Why is Israel subject to critique that the countries he mentions aren’t? Because it is a democracy whose treatment of Palestinians sits uneasily with Jewish history. Bret’s plea does no service to Jews, nor to Israel, which is in fact a nation-state that acts like a nation-state but whose defenders, like Bret, want it to be treated like an exception. Antisemitism is vile and must be uprooted. Israel is fair game.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
Like Stephen's, I also don't know Ye. I know very little about his work and his life other than that he is successful at keeping himself in the news and has been for years. Apparently, Ye has a lot going for him: he is smart, creative, good-looking, and rich. For all I know he won the whole jackpot and is also tall. He is also crazy. While his mental state is certainly no excuse for his behavior, it is something of an explanation for it (along with his apparent craving for publicity). Before Mr. West/Ye encourages too many other people, especially impressionable young people, to mimic his antiSemitism, I hope he gets the help he so clearly needs. Otherwise, now that the business reporting about Ye's partner companies ditching him is dying down, let's drop his sensationalist celebrity coverage and let him suffer in peace. He doesn't need a bigger megaphone for his hate speech. The more important story here is that Ye thought he could gain some traction with the age-old ploy of blaming everything on the Jews... and whether or not, despite his obvious insanity, he is right. It wouldn't be the first time millions followed the antiSemitic ravings of a crazy man.
Dear Bloggers: Kanye or Ye's anti-Semitic outburst has nothing to do with the Palestinians. Not every anti-Semitic crisis involves the Palestinians. At least a celebrity know it all is being punished for putting his foot in his mouth. No more endorsements or concerts for Ye.
Robert Eisdorfer (Long Island City)
This is kind of obvious - the columnist brought Israel into the discussion by conflating anti-semitism with criticism of Israel or support for BDS. So we “bloggers” are reacting to that. As a Jew I believe Zionism (religious nationalism Hebrew style) has destroyed the humanism we built in the diaspora and replaced it with hate, lies, and fears. In the end, after all the damage done to us in the Holocaust the lesson that was learned was “be more brutal.”
Max (NYC)
So many commenters triggered by the mere mention of Israel. Read it again, slowly. Brett does not defend any particular Israeli policy. Nor does he equate Israel criticism with anti-semitism. Instead, he condemns the absurd double standards applied to one country and one people. Everyone was rightly outraged when Asians were attacked due to Covid bigotry. Meanwhile, Jews are attacked over Israel-hatred and there is little if any outcry. The UN has issued more resolutions against Israel than against the rest of the world combined. There are no campus bans or any other social taboo regarding advocacy of any other country or people.
Dennis (Bridgewater NJ)
From 1920s gossip magazines to 2020s social media, popular culture seems to be attracted to mean-minded celebrities. Bret is on target: Kanye is a troubled and idiotic man with a platform to spew the worst bile; his followers need to disown him and his hateful ideology. I mourn the fact that Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg will make billions from the next generation of Kanye-inspired caustic celebrity.
Slate Hardon (Cincinnati)
It’s left wing as much as right wing! Really? How many have been killed in “left wing” attacks on Jewish institutions or as result of “left wing” anti Jewish demonstrations. Lethal attacks come entirely from the right wing.
Kurt Pickard (Murfreesboro, TN)
This clown Ye will say or do anything to get attention. He is a media darling so they'll keep him around. The rest of us just need to turn our back on him and let him wander off into oblivion.
lehomme (marin1950)
I think a big part of the problem is that we now live in a society in which the opinions of people like Kanye West - and Donald Trump - are taken seriously. They are both entertainers - period. EVERYthing they do - is for effect. I think we'd be much better off spending at least as much energy completely ignoring them as "we" do getting energized by the stupidity that constantly comes out of their mouths.
Colorado Gal (California)
Problem is, ignoring the mass behind them…
Michael Clark (Philadelphia)
Charlottesville lasted about two weeks in the news cycle. It is appalling that voters will not pay attention to the "stand down and stand by" directive of Trump along with Bannon's boasts about thousands of shock troops that he can unleash.
Ye has shown that antisemitism is alive, well, and spreading in the US. Especially in the universities, which link anti-Israel bias with anti-Jewish bias. Indeed, he has done a real service by revealing his prejudice, and that of many of his supporters.
Joe (Smith)
@RP "Especially in the universities, which link anti-Israel bias with anti-Jewish bias." Care to back that statement with facts?
Trulyours (New York)
I don't agree with Ye, but, why no punishment for any member of the squad who routinely engages in antisemitic tropes and dog whistles? A united front must be for all or it means nothing at all.
Bobotheclown (Pa)
@Trulyours Please quote me some of the similar statements from the dangerous "squad" that you call out. I would love to see the quote where AOC has said she has gone DEFCON 3 on Jewish people. Perhaps you should hire some researchers to look deep because those quotes are going to be very hard to find.
bsb (ny)
(Bret, I wrote this comment in response to an opinion you wrote on 5/25/21. It seems poignant now.) As we have seem many times in the past, Congress, led by Pelosi and that other great Jew, Schumer, who have given these hatemongers a free ride, as exemplified with her (Pelosi) reaction and response when Omar said “It recently struck me that the common thread among all of these heinous instances of antisemitism is that they are directed towards Jews,...If we can get rid of all the Jews, we can get rid of antisemitism once and for all!” ( Just curious. How is it that our elected officials in Congress are not held up to the same standards as YE? They are all despicable. Yet Omar and her fellow "Jew bashing" progressives get a "free ride". Why do you not opine on that?
Bobotheclown (Pa)
@bsb I think you need a different word than "poignant". May I suggest "irrelevant"?
Person1 (CA)
@bsb You do know that babylonbee is a satirical website? That's not real. Not a fan of the squad, but come on.
AshleighZ (Minneapolis)
@bsb Just curious if you know that the Babylon Bee is satire? She didn't say such a thing and never has. I recommend a more thorough reading of news if you're throwing satire around as your news source.
PP (Neverland)
As a fallen Jew from Brooklyn, I can readily identify with everything you have written, but Bret, what is Gaza and the West Bank if not a ghetto? Why would you want to recreate the hellish conditions Jews have experienced and lived with for thousands of years? I understand...the constant and endless screaming of Death to Israel can drive people to very extreme places on both sides...but Israel is the one that created this ghetto, as well as maintaining it for 55 years. What does Israel hope to achieve by continuing this kind of structure? Can you ever feel completely safe with it? Antisemitism is a separate issue and just another facet of humanity's capacity to create fear of "the other", regardless of whether it is Ye or Trump...but Bret, this ghetto is not going away. All you do is create more and more martyrs. To what end?
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@PP: There are two sides to a population growth race to control this region. It is one of the most dangerous population growth contests for hegemony of any nation on Earth.
Max (NYC)
I'm disappointed Brett did not take this opportunity to respond to the specific allegation. I'll take a shot at it: Jews used to be known as doctors and lawyers. Were they working together to "run" medicine? Of course not. Jews need to be better at responding to this kind of bigoted trope. Overrepresentation in media or finance is no more meaningful than Asian overrepresentation in tech and science. Certain avocations appeal to certain groups. It's OK to acknowledge it, until it veers into accusations of conspiracy.
Colorado Gal (California)
Or blacks “running” music. It’s a false conundrum designed to produce chaos.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
The tradition of many Jews going into business, academia, and the professions arose because for centuries Jews in Britain and Europe were forbidden from owning land and engaging in what was then the most common economic activity: farming. Therefore, and because they were forced into cities and towns, Jews became city people and focused their ambitions on urban pursuits.
Porter (Amsterdam)
Excluding "Harry and Jack Warner, Adolph Zukor, Samuel Goldwyn or Louis B. Mayer" from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is like excluding Bill Gates or Steve Jobs from a Museum dedicated to the personal computer.
Jim (NH)
@Porter ...yes...I'm not a film historian, but I do watch a lot of TCM and the docs on the history of movies....I'd be curious to know the initial reasoning behind the "barely a mention" of these people...
alltatup (SC)
PLEASE, Mr. Stephens: Let's avoid equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism! It distorts and conflates both issues.
Navneet (Boston)
Jews and the gays are always the first easy targets of Christian Supremacists/White Nationalists and the radical Islamists. Then there are some on left who have made Israel issue a boogeyman, and have to protest Jews who just want an independent Jewish state of Israel while ignoring that it’s Hamas that starts bombings many times. Then there are some who conflate criticism of Israel’s policies as anti-semitism. All of these three are wrong in my humble opinion.
Ogdensburg (NY)
Equating Zionism and trans rights is a bridge too far.
Greg (Utah)
I am not able to comprehend how a large number of people come to idolize sociopaths in our country, be that person “Ye” or Donald Trump. Rather than focus on the psychological instability of these pathological liars who exhibit antisocial behaviors, it would be interesting to know more about the psychology of those who idolize them.
Bobotheclown (Pa)
@Greg Ye and Jesus Trump are birds of a feather, people who can produce nothing and who are only famous for being famous. Famous for saying outrageous things into cameras that are watched by fools. When either one of them do something worthwhile, wake me up.
ArthurinCali (Central California)
"Only Mass Deportation Can Save America" Kinda hard to hold some superior moral stance when just a few short years ago you were advocating deportation for American citizens solely due to their political beliefs.
HayesCrow (BayArea)
Arthurincali - You should read this opinion and not just the headline. The article is clearly tongue in cheek (as Bret states at one point) and it's intended to show the ridiculousness of the Trump administration's targeting of immigrants at the time.
Ben Ross (Western, MA)
I appreciate your independent thinking and your support for Israel. i see the rhetoric coming from West as inevitable. There is a major philosophical question unanswered in the foundations of the tenets underlying the Declaration of Independence - the notion that all people are created equal. This is generally interpreted to suggest people all have the same abilities, etc. however, it really is more about opportunity. The question and the hypocrisy is in not addressing differences that are measurable and inherited. No one wants to talk about it. But how does a beautiful woman who is pursued by every guy turn away the pursuers she is simply not interested in. And won't every man she turns away be resentful - perhaps the seed for misogyny. We don't talk about original sin such as that example. I don't like Kanye West for his mistreatment of Taylor Swift in 2009 where he declares her as belonging to him. tht bothered me more then his latest outburst. The reality is that jews are financially successful while blacks make up a significant percent of the poor. We need a moral code that addresses what is owed by the successful to the hurting and what is the hurting parties responsibility. Many Jewish leaders are leading the politcally correct movements blaming white europeans for their mistreatment of other groups. Today we have one way conversations - everything is the white mans fault or the Jews fault. But what responsibility do the dispossessed have? Any?
Steve Bolger (New York City)
The Jewish Seder ritual incorporates 4 levels of understanding of religion across four sons ranging from simpleton to enlightened, from credulous to skeptical. Among Roman Catholics, Jesuits are most likely to back off from projecting themselves onto their God.
firlfriend (usa)
I noticed that you don't mention how long it took the corporations to state the obvious, they should cut ties with Ye. He needs some help.
Paula (NYC)
I couldn't agree more. For decades, as a Jew, I've held my tongue with my non-Jewish colleagues; and even with friends, who still don't acknowledge anti-Semitism as a problem. I think songwriter Tom Lehrer got it right in his song, "National Brotherhood Week," where the tag line is "...and everyone hates the Jews..." While I hope this brings more attention to the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism, I'm truly doubtful that it will lead to meaningful conversations here and abroad; and in the media, where this still is rarely covered in-depth. Hassidic & Orthodox Jews may be the most often targeted (because they are most visible), I think all of us continue to be a significant risk. For decades, I wouldn't tell colleagues I was Jewish. Imagine that?
Upper West Sider (NYC)
Bret correctly notes that Jews, who are 2% of the US population “were on the receiving end of 54.9 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes. On many nights in New York City, Hasidic or Orthodox Jews are being shoved, harangued and beaten. So far, this has been one of the most underreported stories in the country” Chronic assaults on Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, including on children, in one case as young as three, are barely reported - including in our hometown NYT. While many have been genuine about standing up against Kanye’s awful and dangerous remarks, I see others using this as political opportunism. Slamming Kanye mostly as a way to slam the Right and Trump. These same folks, who say nothing about the violence perpetrated upon visibly identifiable Jews, are apparently selective about which Jews they will stand up for. If you only speak out about antisemitism when it comes from the opposing team - and not when it comes from your own, then you are using antisemitism to advance your own agenda.
NYT Reader (US)
Reading the comments a few hours in, so few comments. Really? And comments that divert or deflect from the reality that the ancient twist of antisemitism is growing again, in the right and in the left, insidiously as always, blatantly or subtly. Illiberalism on the right and on the left is fertile ground for antisemitism to grow. It’s growing at our university, which used to be a major liberal university.
NYWoman (NYC)
Good article, except for one point: most Jews are Zionist? I’d like to know what he bases that one on. Half of US Jews marry non-Jews, which is hardly Zionist behavior, and there are no major numbers moving to Israel.
Upper West Sider (NYC)
@NYWoman 2021 Pew Survey. Most US Jews said Israel was important to them, which has nothing to do with criticism or support for gov’t policy. Israel, Jerusalem are intrinsic to Judaism.
skeptonomist (Tennessee)
"antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one" Antisemitism and racism are everywhere but this is an absurd statement.
KM (Pittsburgh)
@skeptonomist It's not absurd at all. When members of the left like the squad praise Louis Farrakhan and suffer no repercussions you know that anti-semitism has become completely acceptable.
AKJersey (New Jersey)
Mr. Stephens is right. Anti-semitism is the false belief that Jews control the world. Anti-Zionism is the false belief that Israel controls the world. These are longstanding conspiracy theories that are practically identical. In fact, there are very few Jews in the world (15 million), with about 40% in the United States (only 2% of the population), another 40% in Israel, and the rest scattered among several countries. The only thing that Jews control is Israel, a tiny country the size of New Jersey that is not dominant even in its neighborhood. There are far more anti-Semites in the world, and they are far more influential.
Joe Hill (Where working men defend their rights)
Mr. Stephens left out the recent dribble from our former president stating that American Jews need to show more support for Israel "before it's too late". Also never mentioned by the columnist is the evangelical support for Israel which is conditioned on an interpretation of part of the Gospel regarding the Second Coming and what awaits those Jews who deny the divinity of Jesus.
GetOut&Vote (Reno Nevada)
The racism towards jews is appalling and it has dramatically increased with prominent republicans showing no remorse such as with Trump's and Marjory Taylor Green's constant vitriolic, putrescent and incendiary bile. I am a non jew and I am outraged that even supposed leaders feel no compunction is spewing this hate speech.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
It's not about a compunction against antiSemitic speech, it's that these tropes are invoked with the full knowledge that they always play to the Peanut Gallery and are an easy way to get a rise when your success is built by validating the idiocy of the most moronic crowds you can muster.
GV (New York)
It's noteworthy but not surprising that Stephens clearly underweights the anti-Semitism of the right in this piece. "Ye," being Black and hard to categorize, is easy pickings. What about the demonization of George Soros, who has graduated from being the target of Hungarian neo-fascists to -- digitally enlarged nose and all -- the mastermind of countless right-wing conspiracy fantasies over here? And how do you mention the attack on the Texas synagogue by a Muslim without mentioning the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre? Need I even mention Charlottesville and "the Jews will not replace us" chants? Well, Stephens sure didn't.
Jack Sonville (Florida)
I'd love to say that we've heard the last of West, but I fear his next stop is martyrdom. "The Jews are cancelling me--they control the fashion world, the music business, Wall Street and the media." The story line is almost too easy. He'll be back on Fox and Parler in no time, and soon we'll be seeing photos of West lunching with one of the Trumps or Clarence and Ginni Thomas, and picking out spots for his doomsday bunker with Peter Thiel in New Zealand.
AKJersey (New Jersey)
Mr. Stephens is right. Anti-semitism is the false belief that Jews control the world. Anti-Zionism is the false belief that Israel controls the world. These are longstanding conspiracy theories that are practically identical. In fact, there are very few Jews in the world (15 million), with about 40% in the United States (only 2% of the population), another 40% in Israel, and the rest scattered among several countries. The only thing that Jews control is Israel, a tiny country the size of New Jersey that is not dominant even in its neighborhood. There are far more anti-Semites in the world, and they are far more influential.
Jeff (Northern California)
There is too much hate in America, period. One only has to watch 15 minutes of Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity to find the source. Heck, the Founder of Hate Radio, Rush Limbaugh received a Medal of Freedom from a lifelong bigot "serving" as President. And 73 million Americans voted for that President again.
So Sad (California)
@Jeff I agree. The hatred is strongly reported on now in America. I don't know why. News editors and news producers could choose other stories to cover, like local elections. I'm a news junkie and now, even I have to stop reading and watching it. It's a constant boiling of rage now. Tell producers that and they will try to "soften" coverage with good news stories ("Look! Funny donuts at the donut shop. Now the news is all better!"), but "softening" is not the cure. The cure in the news is going more in-depth on stores that matter most: education, education, education. E.g., our local news reported that the L.A. Museum of Tolerance invited Ye for a private tour. He declined. A smart TV news producer would say, "Hey, let's make a 22-minute documentary for our local market all about the history of antisemitism in SoCal and about the Museum of Tolerance!" That's what a bold, innovative TV news producer would suggest. Use the medium to educate, educate, educate. Never assume the young people know why there is a Museum of Tolerance in L.A. TEACH them why.
Too many comments just saying ignore him and he will go away. How did ignoring the blatant rise in antisemitism work out for the Jewish people about 80-90 years ago?
Julie Ramos (San Francisco)
At this point bringing up the Israel/Palestinian conflict whenever anti-semitism is almost the equivalent of wearing a All Lives Matter t-shirt to a discussion about racism Black Americans experience. All too often it has become a way of not making the issue more complex, but instead deflecting the seriousness of anti-semitism.
Jewish mom (Westchester)
Well written. Thank you.
Blue Dog (Hartford)
Bravo, Mr. Stephens. Bravo.
JP (New York)
It is heartening that so many are condemning Ye's bigotry, yet worrisome that his antisemitic tropes are being given so much air time, especially in this social media era when a Kardashian and her (x?) co-promoter Ye have more "influence" than almost all political and religious leaders. This article let me down slightly as the author sidesteps the difficult moral conundrum that Israeli policies present. Criticizing Israel, I agree, leads to antisemitism, which is why I shudder when I hear criticism of Israel. However the global fight against antisemitism is aligned morally and intellectually with the fight for Palestinian human rights, not with Israeli government policy concerning the Palestinians.
@JP So you prioritize Palestinian human rights over Israeli human rights? Israelis have a right to defend themselves against intransigent Palestinian terrorism and refusal to accept offers of a state.
Hal (Chicago)
@JP Are you saying you think political and religious leaders should have MORE influence?!
Andrew (Ontario)
Stephens deserves a collective thank you for this one. Anti-semitism is exploding around us once again, and while most of the country (and the world) has been silent about it, it took a tweet by Kanye to get everyone's attention. Such is life in 2022. Its too much to ask that Kanye use this as a "teachable moment" -- a term that so far as I can tell rarely results in learning -- but perhaps people can ask themselves how we got here, and how can we create an environment where such sentiments are not accepted. Asking such basic questions would be a good place to start.......
Ed (Western Washington)
Anti-Semitism is a classic example of one of the most dangerous and common faults of human thought, a fault that is taken advantage of by propagandists on both the left and the right, the generalization of characteristics applied towards a whole group of people instead of seeing these people as individuals with a range of differences that exists among all people. Through propaganda people are easily convinced of generalizations that are just plane wrong, for example that Jews are greedy though in fact they are among the largest contributors to charity, and that Black people are lazy thought they have done much more then their share of the work that has built this country.
R (Evanston)
Really? Stop adding to media's fixation on his ignorant remarks like he is some sort of trump or Republican; which he is exactly like and the only relevant point. Where else do you suppose his comments came from? Come on, West adding anything intelligent to a discussion about 2,000 years of antisemitism or anything, even shoes ?
Ed (ny)
Brett, Hatred by Jews by non Jews, Hatred of Black Americans by those who are not black and hatred of Palestinians by Jews are manifestations of racism.
Susan StoHelit (San Diego)
@Ed Yes, well said. All of these are racism. Calling out Israel is not anti-semetic, blaming all Jewish people for their actions is.
Terry (Chicago)
"Cornel West aptly describes black anti-Semitism as "the bitter fruit of a profound self-destructive impulse, nurtured on the vines of hopelessness and concealed by empty gestures of black unity."
Michael Collins (Honolulu)
Who is Ye, anyway?? A headline maker, who does or says anything to get into the news? Does he make it true that all PR is good PR? Why do we bother with Tabloid heroes like him?
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Michael Collins Khanye West released a string of albums that sold well and received critical acclaim. He was a force in hip-hop and rap. His deteriorating mental health and heinous statements do not make him a mere "headline maker". They make his career tragic.
Tom Callaghan (Connecticut)
Bret, you were sitting ten feet from the late Sheldon Adelson, when Adelson said "there's nothing to negotiate with drop a nuclear bomb in their desert and tell them the next one is in downtown Teheran." The setting was New York City, Yeshiva University. I'm sure you remember. It was 2015. The crowd paused a second and then burst into unanimous applause. What were they applauding? They were applauding recommending a massive war crime and, when asked, you said you "agreed 98%." The moment didn't hurt your career or Adelson's who, in the Trump Administration, was the most powerful private citizen in the USA and Israel. It all depends on whose ox is gored.
T (NC)
@Tom Callaghan No one dropped a nuclear bomb on Iran. No one's ox was gored. But antisemitic attacks are actually happening, with frightening frequency.
Kathy McAdam Hahn (West Orange)
We must look in the mirror, for we have raised a generation of unoriginal lemmings who align with the thoughts of a supposed musical genius, and go from there.
Philip W (Boston)
Please do not give this mentally ill man any more Press coverage!! We really don't want to hear from him or any company that he works for.
Liber (NY)
@Bret Stephens: A grand column piece. It is meant for people to truly understand and reflect how antisemitism is corrosive.
george (Napa,Calif.)
So easy and satisfying to climb on board a centuries old myth. As a completely secular American Jew I can't imagine relating to a Hasidic Jew. I have met Israelis and similarly they seem very "foreign" to me. Yet, I feel targeted all the same.
Expunged (New York, NY)
@george Yes. But if you blame them for anti-Semitism directed at you, you’re missing the point. Which is that the people who blame all Jews for the actions of Israel or Hasidim are the problem - not Israel or Hasidim.
Michael (Barcelona)
I have two Jewish brother-in-laws (wife’s half brother and sister’s husband) and I was shocked at the casual anti-semitism they experience from friends and family. Back-handed compliments about being good with money, questions about Israeli politics (as a Catholic, I’ve never once been asked about Italian politics), even questions about the “Soros caravans,” as if they have some sort of insider knowledge on the “great replacement.” I was in Krakow a few years ago and went to Auschwitz. Auschwitz was bad, Birkenau was a death factory. You could feel the death in the air. What happened to “never again?”
Manny Pedi (Depends Upon The Month)
Can we go def con 3 on pseudo want-to-be celebrities?
Mike S. (Eugene, OR)
Well done, Bret, and very much needed. I am one of many thousands of transcribers for "Every Name Counts" (Zooniverse) of the prisoners during the Holocaust. I've probably dealt with 25,000+ names, and they keep coming. And this is only Buchenwald and Mauthausen.
When I hear the same criticisms of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim countries who treat their people without regard to their humanity, as I do for Israel, then I will know that a vast majority of the attacks on Israel are not antisemitic.
GP (Oakland)
@DebE It's when there's a land grab...that's the difference.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@DebE Israel holds itself out as a model of democracy and human rights. It is also considered a VERY close ally of the US. Their policies in the occupied territories, however, reveal significant hypocrisy. Hence the reason why Israel garners criticism. For Saudi Arabia and other Muslim dictatorships do not hide their oppressive nature. Although there appears to be plenty of criticism of Muslim nations in our media anyway. I like to think that my revulsion at Saudi policy does not make me anti-Muslim.
teresa (Eugene, Oregon)
"Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one." I'm not convinced of this, from the things you cited to support it. But, I'm interested in the idea. Do you really see exactly "as much" anti-semitism coming from the left in American politics, ashram the right? Honest? As many anti-semitic speakers at the progressive gatherings, as at CPAC and other conservative gatherings? Rallys of hooded thugs shouting about white nationalism ... were those "left-wing" activists, Bret? Or "right-wing"? The "jews will not replace us" chants. Which side were they on? Were those progressives? Both sides, equally? Honest?
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@teresa The Pittsburgh temple was shot up by a Trump supporter. But bothsiderism leaning on Dems being the cause of all evils is a standard Stephens trope readily visible in his weekly joint columns with Gail Collins.
Expunged (New York, NY)
@teresa It’s not an equal phenomenon. But few people - say, in the media - acknowledge that the phenomenon exists on the left at all. It does. And the fact that it isn’t as dangerous as the hatred from the right doesn’t mean that it isn’t a serious problem. Ask my daughter, who was victimized on her high school Facebook page by fellow students hostile to Israel. These classmates made Holocaust jokes and told my daughter she should burn in an oven. Not once did my daughter mention Israel in school.
Someone (Reality)
I don't deny the undercurrent of antisemitism in this country or abroad, but Bret should be warned that this does not give license to Israel (the govt of Jews, per Israeli law) to "return the favor". If Israel is really worried about hatred against Jews, they are doing a terrible job of winning friends and influencing people. At minimum, playing Obama v Trump favoritism is not in the Jews' interests. Besides, Ye is a poor messenger of the threat to jews. for example, Ye's histrionic s of Taylor Swift did absolutely nothing for my sentiment towards her.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
I largely agree, except when Stephens conflates those who oppose Israeli policy with anti-Semitism. Now all we need to do is to get Mr. Stephens to denounce the anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-LBGTQ, and yes, anti-Semitism in his chosen party with the same fervor.
TL (California)
@Jerseytime And yet Israel is pro LGBTQ, pro democracy, pro women’s rights… while nearly all of its neighbors (including Palestine) are not.
maxel (paris)
Ye is absolutely right. And so are foreigners who do not approve US policies and overseas interventions; They are quite right in making all americans responsible and in threatening all of them with "Death com 3 ", including Ye of course
Bruce (Cherry Hill, NJ)
It is worse than that. Kanye West has been openly anti-semitic for many years but no one cared until he wore a White Lives Matter tee shirt. If he had not done that, he would still have an Adidas contract and all the other trappings.
That's What She Said (The West)
I didn’t realize the Jewish exhibit exclusion in the new Academy of Motion Pictures existed. No mention to f Thalberg either I suppose. How very weird and myopic of Hollywood. I have driven past a few times curious and interested and now I think not so much
Jared (Vt)
Why is it the case that the liberal, mainstream media is so quick to ignore or dismiss antisemitic hate crimes? Or not acknowledge them as hate crimes at all?
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Jared What are your factual examples of the MSM ignoring or dismissing anti-Semitic hate crimes? The worst recent one, of a Trump supporter shooting up a Pittsburgh temple, was well reported. As was the Charlottesville Neo Nazis chanting "Jews will not replace us".
Jared (Vt)
@Jerseytime Those cases received prominent national coverage, as they should, and as would be expected since they had right wing perpetrators. But most every week in NYC Hasidim are taunted, harassed or attacked, and it is rarely reported. Did you know that NYPD reports that no right wing hate groups have been responsible for hate crimes in the city. They are almost all perpetrated by POC against obvious Jewish targets. And there are frequent such attacks.
JM (New York)
“Reading is like eating Brussels sprouts for me,” Kanye West has been quoted as saying in news reports claiming he doesn’t read “any” books. He and others who share his views might start with “Night” by Elie Wiesel.
Scoop Knapp (Chicago)
Good article, but the equation of anti-semitism with anti-Zionism is an overreach. Are some anti-semites drawn to express anti-Zionism? I’m sure and that’s problematic. But there are plenty, many Jewish people included, who hold a deep respect for Jews yet hold a valid ethical and political position against Israel’s settle state politics. It’s a tough knot to untangle certainly but you cheapen your argument by casting to lot out as hateful
Kay (Midwest)
No fan of “Ye”, but it has been interesting to see his swift censure. I want respect for all. I also want the Israeli lobby to get out of US foreign policy. There needs to be a space for legitimate criticism. Ye is hardly the credible conduit for this discussion. May I recommend this book to all the thoughtful readers of the NYTs: They Dare To Speak Out - third edition By Paul Findley
John Davis (Austin TX)
In all my travels around the world, it seems universally true that the people in a place are much more decent and caring than their governments. Nowhere is this more confused than when we discuss Israel and the Jewish people. Their government does things that do not have the unified support of religiously, culturally Jewish people. The Bibi factions, and their like, take political sides in our own governance, which Brett must recognize as consistent with his own GOP cheerleading. These are not religious beliefs, nor are their opponents anti-Semitic when they complain about such partisan interference. So Bret doesn’t help resolve anything by confusing the two. Yes, we all applaud the exit of Ye, for sure. But Bret is not incapable of separating church and state for reasons to enjoy Ye’s absence.
Reverie (PNW)
Excellent column. I am a convert who looks like I am right off the boat--the boat from Scotland--yet I have been on the receiving end of some pretty horrible remarks. Very painful.
ss (nj)
It’s telling that the leading comment to Bret’s astute observations of antisemitism involves both the mention of Israel’s policies and also dilutes the focus on antisemitism by saying it should be possible to stand against all persecution. We’ve seen this in Congress when trying to craft a statement against antisemitism that morphed into being against all bigotry. This demonstrates the point Bret makes about the tepid response to antisemitism, sadly seen among progressives who claim to be against all forms of bigotry and hatred. And while most of us agree that not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, the other side of this coin is that not all antisemitism involves Israel. It’s time to denounce antisemitism for the ugly hatred it is, without softening the focus as though it’s mere background noise.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@ss: Religion is divisive because it is non-negotiable. This is why the weary negotiators of the United States Constitution added "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" at the very beginning of the Bill of Rights recording the rights and powers reserved by the people of the United States.
JM (New York)
@Steve Bolger The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel might have disagreed with you about religion being “divisive.” It does not have to be.
TL (California)
@ss YES!!! A perfectly stated comment. I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you.
Brooklyn’s José Franco The Lust For Fame (Is The Last Thing Wisemen Conquer)
It's easy to keep knocking Ye's antics because of how outrageous & incoherent his antisemitic rants are. As someone who believes in unconditional love, Ye's behavior make me question how I frame my life. For me to love Ye, I force myself to look past the flawed artist. Like this Bret Stephens' oped article, I frame Ye's underwhelming behavior as a growth opportunity. From my narrow unconditional love perspective, I refuse to believe Ye is someone who is so poor, all he really has is money. Please don't confuse my way of seeing the world as a weakness. Unconditional love always empathizes, always accepts the person, but sometimes refuses to accepts the person's efforts or performances as good enough. Proactive behavior involves acting in advance of a future situation, rather than just reacting. The task of objectively seeing yourself can be difficult. Before a Ye can lead others he has to lead himself through surrender. Surrender is not the same thing as resignation. One can surrender to the reality of a situation & still take steps to create a different path. The concept of “motivation” is very important for a leader & challenges the assumption that acceptance will lead to a lack of motivation. I think Ye can experience a more effective motivation when he surrenders. Will Ye ever realize/conceptualize that his shadow side is a reflection of his creative powers, his honesty & passion? Will he eventually feel safe enough to open up to someone he trust, possibly a therapist?
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Brooklyn’s José Franco The Lust For Fame: Many people live to be hated. The whole crowd of people claiming to "own the libs" are not pleading for love.
Samuel (Australia)
You say that Israel gets outsized attention compared to other countries that also oppress their minorities (which borders on an argument ‘Well, if Tehran can do it…’) and then list example regimes that do not receive the military and economic and political support that Israel receives from the USA and other western countries. It strikes me that Americans should be vocally critical of the regimes that their tax money support as they can influence this. Unfortunately they don’t have the same leverage on Tehran nor Caracas.
Real NYC Public School Teacher (Brooklyn, NY)
Anti-Semitism: The Acceptable Racism
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Real NYC Public School Teacher: Judaism is a religion, not a race.
Dumbstruck (Vermont)
Quite simply, thank you for this clear statement that addresses the hypocrisy!!
Vera Lekas (NYC)
Being against Israeli government policies is not the same as opposing Jewish people. That distinction is rather blurred in this article 
Max (NYC)
@Vera Lekas It's not blurry at all. He was clearly referring to the ridiculous double standard applied to one state (the Jewish one) among all others.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Vera Lekas In the end, like all of Stephens' articles, the goal is not just the main topic. It is also uses arguments to bolster the positions of modern American reactionaries. Note the harsh critiques of supposed anti Semitism from "liberals", while ignoring Jewish deaths caused by Trumpists. Or, being transifixed on Khanye, who is black. The underlying message is "vote GOP".
Michael Bachner (New Jersey)
So well said. Thank you.
me (Washington)
Zionism is not Judaism. That false equivalence is destructive and we will come to regret it.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@me: Zionism arose in reaction to the anti-Semitic pogroms affecting the whole "pale of settlements" in western Russia and Eastern Europe. People wanted to find a safe place to live, and Palestine was then a forgotten corner of the world.
@me Judaism is at the core of Zionism. To ignore this is dangerous and feeds antisemitism.
Mike (Florida)
It's time to stop calling it antisemitism and start calling it Jew Hatred. Mr. Stephens did right by trying to elevate it, but the conservative in him pulled the piece into moral whataboutism that diminished the piece. Yes, there are Jew Haters on the left, who disguise their hatred of Jews by hatred of the Jewish state. But the bigger concern for Jews, is that this country is heading into a period of Christian nationalism, one that is very reminiscent of the era of the silver shirts during the 1930s. The silver shirts were less outwardly fixated on attacking the Jews in public than the brown shirts, but that does not lessen their overall agenda targeting the Jews. And, unlike the brown shirts, they fielded a candidate for president. Tucker Carlson is the modern day equivalent (and thus more media savvy and therefore more dangerous) of Father Coughlin. Between stoking up Jew Hatred through constantly focusing on the great replacement theory (Tree of Life victims are looking right at you Carlson), and backing West instead of calling him out, is dangerous. Really dangerous. Yes, Mr. Stephens. Everybody hates the Jews. But the danger to American Jews from that hatred is not equal.
Nima (Toronto)
“while generally ignoring or downplaying the endless depredations of regimes in, say, Caracas, Ankara, Havana and Tehran?” What world do you live in? With the exception of Ankara (since Turkey is the second largest army in NATO) all the rest are international pariahs whilst Israel enjoys blanket immunity from any consequence over its treatment and ethnic cleaning of Palestinians.
SethWulsin (Cajicá)
@Nima Very important point. Stephens accomplishes this by putting it strictly in terms of the UN, a largely symbolic body in terms of world power, and ignoring the real hard power of the US and allies and their unconditional support for Israel, which is akin to their unconditional support for Saudi Arabia.
Max (NYC)
@Nima Really? Where are the protests against those countries? Where are the college campus bans? Where are the attacks and vandalism? The UN has passed more resolutions against Israel than against the rest of the world combined. The double standard is laughable.
William Colgan (Rensselaer NY)
It has taken me a lifetime, but I have come to recognize how pernicious the word “the” is when applied to people of the Jewish faith. Consider the difference between these phrases: “The Jews created the Hollywood studio system”;or “The Hollywood studio system was created by many men of Eastern European Jewish origin.” Put this another way. Whenever a sentence contains the two words “The Jews,” we can sure that both the content and the intent are meant to single out, and to substitute caricature for thought.
ASPruyn (California - Somewhere left of Center)
Re: “So far, this has been one of the most underreported stories in the country” Really? Yesterday I heard a bit on NPR about anti-semitism, with a direct mention of what has happened to Hasidic and Orthodox Jews in NYC. I’ve read here and in the Wash-Post about this. But this has not been the first time articles about anti-semitism or physical attacks on Hasidic and Orthodox Jews has been in these sources this year. The NPR article even reported the outsized percentage of hate attacks are perpetrated against Jewish people. Ye’s comments are just a few in a long string of like minded comments that news organizations have called out. What probably got the most attention on Ye, and his comments, is his comment that Addis couldn’t/wouldn’t do anything against his relationship with them over his anti-Semitic comments. And then, they dropped him like a moldy bagel. (Yea Addis!!). Ye is simply an artist who is over stuffed with his own importance, never realizing that artists are not the real movers and shakers of this world. Van Gogh was a great artist, but how many laws was he involved with being written?
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
Contemporary media style uses the word "artist" instead of the word "celebrity". Artists are more likely to be starving in garrets or trudging through odious day jobs just to survive than to be in multimillion dollar contract disputes with corporate sponsors trading on their fame.
pdbwod (N County, San Diego)
Funny nobody ever ask the question "How do the Palestinians treat the Israelis? There are many Palestinians living in Israel, yet not a single Israeli is living in Palestinian territories. Nobody says a word about. Since Hamas wants to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth and the other group wants reclaim their land which of means death to Israel. If people are trying to kill you are you suppose to invite them in for dinner?
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@pdbwod "Not a single Israeli is living in Palestinian territories". Did you miss the ever expanding "settlements"?
GM (Universe)
Ye, or whatever he calls himself, is way too arrogant to read this. And even he did, he'd just scoff at it. He lives, like so many of our outsized media stars, in an alternative world. He's no different than Trump, Musk and the Khardasians.
Tj14 (NYC)
Decent column, but misses the closest analogies. The media would never excuse attacks on Indian or Chinese people in America as a direct result of those governments’ violence toward Muslims. It should therefore not excuse attacks on Jews in America as a result of Israel’s offenses.
TL (California)
@Tj14 Exactly.
mckeldin (New york, NY)
Anti-Semitism remains as frighteningly potent in this country as it ever has. It HAS to be addressed with the intensity and condemnation with which every other -ism and -phobia is. It's sadly true that many anti-Zionist leftists deal in anti-Semitic tropes and it makes me want to gouge out my eyes. But... and this is a big "but"... to be anti-Zionist is NOT to be anti-Semitic, though all too frequently the two go hand in hand. But it is counter-productive for those of us in the fight to continually link the two.
K Raymond (Pa)
I wish the press and talking heads would stop saying anything about this hollow attention seeking human… who contributes nothing useful to our culture or conversations. Cut off the attention to him and he will be where he belongs… out of the public eye and conversation. Stop feeding the beast!
Al King (Ohio)
Thank-you, Bret Stephens. My only problem with what you wrote is that you equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. The way I see it, Zionism is the belief that whatever land in the Middle East that was at one point owned or claimed by Jews should today be owned by Jews, irrespective if the intervening centuries and the equally valid claims of people of that follow other faiths, most notably Muslims and Christians. To be against this illegal land grab and the immoral treatment of Palestinians is NOT being Anti-Semitic. Likewise, any criticism of Israel or Israeli policy is NOT being Anti-Semitic. Lumping anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism together does not help your argument -- it weakens it. No one should be persecuted for their faith. That goes for Jews and Muslims. Is you want nuance and understanding, it's best if you display those traits in your writing.
Pete (Chicago)
And yet Bret remains unsure whether modern fascism or the normalization of putting pronouns in your signature block is a bigger threat to society.
Timothy Tumbleweed (Dallas, Texas)
Superb column that spotlights a long-ignored issue in American life. Thank you
ALW515 (undefined)
When someone writes a column decrying racism against Chinese-Americans, I will guarantee you that no one responds with "if only the Chinese government would treat Uighers with the same compassion." Why? Because they know that Chinese-Americans are Americans and have no impact on the Beijing government. If only NYT commenters would realize the same is true of Jews. We are Americans. Not agents of the Israeli government,
Lindsey (Brooklyn, NY)
@ALW515 I agree with you but think that Bret is the one who brought this confusion on by raising the topic of Zionism. It seems to me like anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are overlapping but distinct issues, and bringing up the former in this context distracts from a serious discussion of the latter.
Seen2Much (Dallas)
@ALW515 You forgot to mention the killings of Muslim Rohingya people by the Burmese military.
Alex (Durham, NC)
@ALW515 You are absolutely spot on. One of the most pernicious ides of American anti-semites is the bigoted belief that Jewish Americans can't be real Americans but must somehow have duel loyalty. That same sort of bigotry used to also be directed at Catholics.
WTig3ner (CA)
Kanye West speaks for a huge section of our society. The difference is that others are at least smart enough to say it out loud. Donald Trump speaks for a huge section of our society, in his constant disparagement of "others"--women, people of color, immigrants (his father, you see, was a direct descendant of the original Dakota tribe), Muslims, parents of service personnel who died in service of their country, and those who actually served their country in a trying time, such as John McCain. The essential difference between West and Trump is that Trump has emboldened his supporters to say it out loud.
Rovingcritic (USA)
@WTig3ner I think his "huge section" is now greatly diminished.
WTig3ner (CA)
@Rovingcritic You may be right, and I hope you are, but the underlying problem remains. We are a collapsing society awash in hate. Trump and West keep throwing gasoline on the fire, but the fire was roaring before they came along.
WTig3ner (CA)
@WTig3ner I meant to say "smart enough not to say it out loud."
Greg Thrasher (Maryland)
Something is amiss and not Kosher in the saga of Kanye West aka Ye , he deservingly has attracted intense criticism and condemnation for his series of antisemitic conspiracy comments …. Ye’s behavior has made him a target for attacks on his sanity and his empire. There are daily demands which aim to have Ye lose his lucrative and profitable endorsements and his celebrity cachet… Without question this is cancel culture in full bloom, BUT is it excessive and an example of extreme overkill? Those seeking to assist Ye during his meltdown also face the wrath of his attackers for daring to intervene and render concern and compassion for Ye… Ye is not a Nazi nor a serial killer nor the worse human being on the planet. There is truth to the reality that when a Black person including a celebrity goes dark and off the rails there is an extreme overreaction and excessive exaggeration that feels like a Hi Tech Lynching certainly this clearly is not a Clarence Thomas metaphor… Black Americans must step up here 4 Ye I am not recommending nor advising anyone to go purchase his music or sign some ubiquitous internet petition nor search for similar racist comments by Jewish celebrities and personalities toward Black Americans…. Compassion is not acceptance nor tolerance of hate and evil .. Compassion is an act of humanity it does not fit every twisted and vile saga but it has a place in civilization and humanity and I am invoking it now 4 Ye West Greg/BLM
John Harper (Carlsbad, CA)
@Greg Thrasher Live by the sword, die by the sword. Ye has no problem using the media (social and commercial) to make millions of dollars and have millions of followers. The downside is when he falters, those millions (of followers) can react through social media just as easily and cause a "flash mob" of consequences. It's only called "cancel culture" because of the easily spread information on the internet. Decades ago it would be a simple "boycott" or just minor condemnation as the media footprint was tiny. Isn't that more what causes the "cancel" to happen today?
Tom (Brooklyn)
@Greg Thrasher astonishing.
RK (Miami)
@Greg Thrasher Sure. Consequences aren't appropriate when it deals with Jews. It was only appropriate when Sterling, a Jew, lost his ownership of the Clippers due to his racism against blacks. Selective approval of "cancel culture" right? Words and unrepentant bigotry have consequences.
Socrates (Downtown Verona, NJ)
The Jewish people have been persecuted for thousands of years, mostly by 'Christians'. Most notably, the refusal of Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah was viewed as a threat to Roman rulers and to Christianity and produced the early strain of anti-Semitism that remains with us to this wretched day. During the Middle Ages, institutionalized anti-Semitism developed: Jews were forbidden to marry Christians, prohibited from holding positions in government, and prevented from appearing as witnesses against Christians in court. As Jews were officially being ostracized, bizarre fantasies about Jews arose in Northern Europe that foreshadowed the anti-Semitism of the 20th century. It was baselessly alleged that Jews had horns and tails and engaged in ritual murder of Christians; anti-Semitic propaganda was normalized. Christian Crusaders swept through Jewish communities looting, raping and massacring Jews as they went. Jews were baselessly scapegoated - and murdered - as a cause of the plague in the 15th century because of the myths, stereotypes and propaganda. Even though Jews were also dying from the plague, they were accused of poisoning wells and spreading the disease. Martin Luther, the founder of the 16th century Reformation and Protestantism, wrote a pamphlet in 1545 entitled The Jews and Their Lies, claiming that Jews thirsted for Christian blood and urging the slaying of the Jews. The Nazis reprinted it in 1935. Anti-Semitism is Christianity's origin sin.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Socrates: Religion has rationalized the worst of human psychopathy since its invention. Nobody's opinion of what a "God" thinks and commands is negotiable.
Mark Kropf (Long Island)
James Baldwin once said: "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain." Whatever Ye may be, rich, creative or otherwise, he is an individual first in turmoil and with unrecognized and unmet failings. Bigotry is the least of his problems. His celebrity and his wealth are his greatest calamity. They merely allow him to fester over time with his problems, rather than giving him some grounds for attending to his very real needs.
I cannot imagine a world without the contributions of Jews. People that vilify them are just plain ignorant. uneducated and full of hate. Yet most of them identify as Judeo-Christians. Unreal.
OMG (Charleston)
@GC The Jews don't need to contribute anything to the world in order deserve respect and freedom to live in peace. Unalienable rights are not merit based.
Matt Green (Los Angeles)
Good and necessary article, Mr. Stephens. Jews compose 2.4 percent of the U.S. population, and at least 25 percent of my friends. Not planned, just the way it is. I'm also old enough to have grown up with memory of the holocaust intact. I will always stand with your remarkable people, no matter what.
BVB (Canada)
I am a Canadian living in Canada. I don’t think I can name a person with whom I am acquainted who is Jewish. Neither can I name a Protestant, Catholic, Sikh or Muslim. Because it doesn’t matter here. There may be places in Canada where it does matter to some few people but not in BC and not in most of Canada.
Ken (California)
@BVB you are accurately describing why Ye's message is important in highlighting the message of hate to the comatose majority of (passive) Americans who turn away when faced with their own prejudices. I was born and spent the first 32 years of my life in Montreal where anti-Semitism was ubiquitous. There were quotas in graduate schools (e.g. McGill University faculty of medicine), exclusions from country clubs and hotels, and even communities where realtors would not show properties to Jews. The animus was palpable. I found Canada to be less tolerant than the US. I would suggest that there might be a serious issue with your inability to identify any of your acquaintances who might be Protestant, Catholic and especially Sikn, Muslim or Jewish. Perhaps wearing blinders is key to not celebrating their diversity.
BVB (Canada)
@Ken I hesitated to talk about Quebec which is an outlier of intolerance in Canada. Now and then. As for wearing blinders what do you know about me? Absolutely nothing. My point is that I accept without question the value of others, their equality, regardless of their faith, and without categorizing them in any way. Discrimination begins with identifying differences.
Fla Joe (South Florida)
@BVB + It certainly did in Montreal in the 50's. 60's and 70's.
Kat (Austin, TX)
Great opinion piece Mr Stephens. Let's all thank Ye and then cancel him - we cannot live in a world where West holds court over young, black kids, who believe in him. I grew up 50 miles north of the city and heard and saw anti-semitic tropes and people using horrible words to describe my friends, so we continue to fight against hate. It's obviously a long and arduous journey since I"m over 70 and this hate is a thousand+ years going on today.
He has First Amendment rights, but like the Covid vaccines it doesn't mean he gets to keep his job. (Nc)
I would like to make you and anyone else who believes your comment understand, young Black people didn't make Kanye a billionaire, young White people did, his influence in Black communities is minimal, at best.
John Lee Pettimore (Cleveland)
@Kat West, like his buddy, Donald Trump, is only trying to keep himself in the spotlight. Ignore him and he'll go away.
Darko Begonia (New York City)
Thanks for writing this, Stephen. U.S. anti-semitism is as keen and as sharp, and as historically under-reproached as it has ever been, in our country's history. As a Jewish boomer who was raised in a very left-leaning, progressive, liberal, NYC environment, I've seen and heard my share of inane prejudice from both the expected quarters (hailing from outside our urban experience), and from allies within the seemingly enlightened portions of our rainbow coalition. Tom Lehrer, in his satirical 1965 song “National Brotherhood Week" was on the money: “Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics/ And the Catholics hate the Protestants/ And the Hindus hate the Muslims/ And ev’rybody hates the Jews.”
John Lee Pettimore (Cleveland)
@Darko Begonia As a leftist, I have tolerance for all races, religions, sexual preferences etc. I don't have tolerance for countries that violate human rights, and Israel is one of those nations. Yes, it isn't Iran or China, but Israel has a lot to dislike about it.
TL (California)
@John Lee Pettimore Israel isn’t all Jewish people. The comment you’re replying to says literally nothing about Israel. You are exemplifying the problem. Your comment reads as disdainful of Jews and, most importantly, accepting of antisemitic remarks under the guise of being pro-Palestine. You are saying antisemitism is OK because you don’t like the policies of a specific political party in Israel. Horrifying.
D (Maryland)
Thank you, Mr. Stephens, for an honest and insightful article. The statistic you quote of 54.9 percent of hate crimes being directed at Jews in 2020 is at once shocking and a horrific exposure of the persistence of antisemitism and its pervasiveness, thanks in no small part to cultural parasites and antisemites like Trump, Carlson, and West. (I choose not to play the "ye" game to facilitate West's self-purge and self-aggrandizement.)
Getty LeaNe (Bay Area)
The percentage is of “religious” hate crimes. Easy to misread what he wrote, but the category is likely otherwise aimed at Muslims, Sikhs, etc., and not including LGBTQ, women or Black people.
Question Everything (Highland NY)
Somehow you found a convoluted way to thank Ye. Only an Israel-can-do-no-wrong Republican would even try to do that. Two conditional statements must be made before I comment further. 1) Anti-antisemitism is always wrong. Full stop. 2) Israel can be, and should be, criticized when it's government acts unethically and/or immorally. Israel's hard right government under Netanyahu has acted unacceptably in many instance, namely: * Bibi approved settlement construction in the West Bank which inflamed relations with Palestine, * government leadership refused to admit, then failed to condemn, the IDF killing a journalist, * Bibi unleashed police forces against peaceful protestors. Israel is our ally and America supports their right to exist, but no nation warrants a "holier than thou" relationship. Any and all nations warrant critique for unacceptable behavior.
OMG (Charleston)
@Question Everything Perhaps the way to change this is to stop using "Israel" as synonymous with the current government. When we discuss the radical foreign policy departures of Trump we didn't state "The U.S." we put it right on Trump. The media needs to do the same with Netanyahu or whomever else leads the government.
Asha (San Jose)
Absolutely. As a Jewish American, I believe in human rights for Palestinian people, and I know Israel is guilty of war crimes against Palestine. Supporting Palestine is not antisemitism, period. All people deserve life, justice and liberty. Nothing is more Jewish then this belief, which is central to our religion.
Keeping it real (Cohasset, MA)
@Question Everything In addition, and most egregiously, Israel — that supposed beacon of democracy that allegedly shares our values — failed to unequivocally express its support for Ukraine and condemn the Russian invasion. I realize that Israel and Russia are allied on the Syrian front against terrorist organizations, but at some point you have to take a stand against genocidal monsters like Putin — one would think that Israel would realize that better than any other nation on earth. As Tom Friedman wrote in a column a few years ago, Israel under Netanyahu has devolved into a theocratic (and corrupt) state. Israel and its supporters cannot claim that Israel deserves a special place among America's allies if Israel shares our values only when it is convenient for them.
Keeping it real (Cohasset, MA)
Excellent column Brett. The only issue I have with this, and some of your other columns, is that you are too quick to equate criticism of Israel's policies (whatever they may be) with anti-Semitism. I find your comment, "Honest would be to acknowledge that antisemitism is as much a left-wing phenomenon as it is a right-wing one," to be quite dishonest and amounts to a false equivalency. Still, an excellent overall column. Maybe our public schools, as part of the U.S. history curriculum, should have every student watch the recent Holocaust series by Ken Burns that was on PBS. Perhaps it might prevent a future Ye.
Robin (New Jersey)
@Keeping it real Criticism of Israel as a mask to disguise antisemitism is the issue - that this has grown as a means to express antisemitism - and to believe it.
pauliep (Lee, Ma)
Great idea, but we’re at a point in right wing craziness that even prohibits the reading of Anne Frank’s diary in some states public school curriculums. Republicans are very careful not to make anyone who might support them feel guilty about crimes against humanity, like slavery or the holocaust.
L S Friedman (Philadelphia, PA)
@Keeping it real You misunderstood. Brett was not equating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel. He was saying that in today's parlance, all anti-Semitism is given cover under the banner of "anti-Zionism."
David (Nyc)
Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Curious (Marfa, Texas)
Anti Semitism is a serious problem. And seems to be getting worse, worldwide. But I don’t understand the need to give attention to an apparently unstable musician because he’s famous. It actually gives this unpleasant man a megaphone. Unhelpful.
L S Friedman (Philadelphia, PA)
@Curious Kaye's remarks require our attention because of his tremendous influence over a large percentage of the population. Imagine if Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen had singled out Jews for hate speech.
Kat (Austin, TX)
@Curious Disagree, we must always combat people like West, he influences the young.
Jinbo (NYC)
Not all antisemitism is equal. To credit Kanye as holding antisemetic views is giving him too much credit, it’s the easy, simplistic way out to lump all antisemitism together. Richard Reed, aka “The Shoe bomber” thought of himself as a soldier for Islam. He wasn’t. Antsemitism comes in many cultural flavors. I’m not sure outbursts resulting from mental illness or Tourette’s is quite the same. Statements made from ignorance are different from genuine, deep seated, well considered beliefs.
dlb (washington, d.c.)
@Jinbo The methods may be different but the outcomes are the same.
pauliep (Lee, Ma)
Please don’t use his mental illness as an excuse for his racism! He’s a hateful racist who just happens to suffer from mental illness.
HP (Philadelphia)
An analogy for the situation: You didn’t see the stop sign, so you hit a person with your car, and they die. The court doesn’t care if you didn’t see the stop sign. You’re still getting charged. Now you may get manslaughter and not a murder charge, but the person is still dead. Same idea for Kanye West. No one gives a rats that it’s from ignorance or mental illness. The damage is done.
Stuck on a mountain (New England)
It is just a horror to see the torrent of antisemitism lurking in so many corners of our country. And more of a horror to see it brought into public view. Shame on all of us for not standing up against so obvious a wrong.
Dana (Santa Monica)
The way Jews are treated by the left illustrates howI internalized anti-semitism is. The underlying exclusion of Jews by the far left comes from their (racist) belief that Jews hold outsized power and influence - that they do in fact "pull the strings." Rather than recognize Jewish accomplishment and achievement in the face of horrific prejudice and adversity - they "whitewash" it by recasting Jews as white people - perhaps from Ireland - who just worship a different God. That whitewashing is at it's core anti-semitic - and enables the denial of the anti-semitism in the world aroud us.
Jon J (New Jersey)
I can’t stand that as a (barely practicing but self identifying) Jew I am forced to join the outrage machine that has become America - but the reaction to Kanye (who is unhinged) from so many has been so tepid and so lame that you have to take note. We, as Jews, know the deal. We’re supposedly superior but inferior at the same time (the oft repeated contradiction that we’re either voracious capitalists or meddling communists). We watch the hypocrisies of both sides of the political spectrum forcing us to be political nomads - just barely still clinging to the left only because the right has become insane. But mostly - what I know is nearly every Jew cherishes America. We’ve watched our holocaust-era grandparents create a legacy of success and creative fertility that is now so clearly woven into the fabric of American culture and history. And for the first time, last week, It didn’t feel like the disenfranchised antisemitism of the benighted and wayward. It felt mainstream. It felt like the distant echo of that most horrifying question every Jew has heard uttered and heard our 20th century forebears debate… “could it happen here?” For the first time ever - while it may not be the camps and the ovens - one can picture the 21st century’s equivalent of scapegoating and blame that could have the most serious of consequences.
Mrsmarv (Dutchess County NY)
@Jon J ~ Thank you for expressing how I feel. I'm 71, a barely practicing but self-identifying Jew, as well. Never in all my years have I felt as threatened as I do now.
TL (California)
@Jon J Beautifully said, thank you.
Pinto G (N.Y. nY)
Amazing disconnect between (supposed) artist persona and person underneath the facade. Artists are welcome to comment on anything but if they spew ignorant antiquated bile then good luck maintaining a mass hypnosis that somehow equates your creativity to wisdom. Do your homework, study history and speak truth. If you want to pander to the basest, most fractious ideas available then you deserve what you get with respect to public outcry and adverse consequences. You probably don’t care because of your outrageous wealth but your influence on anyone, even your youthful base, is eroded and ultimately rendered impotent.
Fia (Wyoming)
I will save my anger for Putin and China and Myanmar and Iran and all the real thugs. Anger toward Ye is just a waste of time. It fixes nothing. Silencing people is a lazy man's answer in a country founded on the idea of free-speech. If nothing else, it is better to know thy enemy than to be left guessing but I suspect Ye's words and actions have been twisted far beyond his original intent and then he lashed out at those who hurt him. Too many people stirring Ye's pot. It isn't worth the time.
John Lee Pettimore (Cleveland)
@Fia West is free to say whatever he wants, and we're free to be disgusted by it -- just as my relatives were disgusted by my support of the civil rights nd antiwar movements in the 1960s. Adidas is free to cancel his contract, because that's capitalism.
L S Friedman (Philadelphia, PA)
@Fia It is our moral obligation to speak truth to power, whether that power is a rap artist with a fan base of millions or a reality TV celebrity who has ushered White Supremacists into the mainstream. "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If not now, then when?"
andy b (hudson, fl.)
When Trump came to power, I told my wife, "We're next". Trump has been and is the catalyst for all the horrors that exist in the American subconscious to arise to the surface. The angry, vicious attack dogs that were chained in the basement of American culture have been let loose. Let's hope and pray that the center holds. We're in for a bumpy ride. Fasten your seatbelts.
Jackson (Virginia)
@andy b What? I can’t even tell what you’re talking about. Was Trump responsible for the law school declaring Jew free zones? You make it sound like anti Semitism didn’t exist before Trump.
joann (ohio)
Yes, anti semitism exists. However, West is only one man, who happens to have a big platform due to his money and musical talent. I hope no one believes he is talking for the entire Black community. I recoil from him and his words just as sure as I would from a neo Nazi.
Phyllis Sidney (Palo Alto)
@joann The "entire Black community" is never a monolith. But that idea begs the question (one which evidently is verboten) as to the extent of antisemitism among Black people. Perhaps it's time for an "honest dialogue".
See also