The urgency of combating antisemitism: A timeline of recent hateful events

Oscar Nobel

Anxiety about antisemitism is high in the United States right now. I feel it when I talk to my Jewish friends at the College, who tell me about how alone they feel and how nobody takes this issue seriously enough. I feel it when I personally hear about Holocaust survivors who can’t sleep at night because they are frightened by recent acts of antisemitism. I feel it every time I look at the news, where it seems there are new antisemitic incidents every day.

I want to take this opportunity to show the College community why there is such concern about antisemitism right now. Only by establishing a common under- standing of the severity of this issue can we work together to effectively fight against it. With that in mind, I curated a timeline of recent antisemitic incidents in an effort to help establish that common understanding:

Oct. 9: Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, tweets his intention to go “death con 3 [sic] On JEWISH PEOPLE.” Ye has 32.2 million Twitter followers, more than twice the number of the global Jewish population.

Oct. 11: Leaked footage from Ye’s Fox News interview shows Ye making multiple antisemitic comments, including that he would prefer if his children learned about Hanukkah in- stead of Kwanzaa because “at least it will come with some financial engineering.”

Oct. 16: Ye appears on the Drink Champs podcast, where he spreads conspiracies about Jews controlling the media and says he is “#MeToo-ing Jewish culture.”

Oct. 17: Ye echoes similar antisemitic statements on NewsNation, including talking about a “Jewish under- ground media mafia.”

Oct. 17: Former President Trump makes a post on Truth Social that was widely considered an attack on U.S. Jews. In the post, Trump complains about his low support among U.S. Jews despite his pro-Israel position and states “U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel — Before it is too late!”

Oct. 22: A group hangs a banner over Interstate 405 in Los Angeles that reads “Kanye was right about the Jews” while performing Hitler salutes. Another banner hanging next to it advertises the Goyim Defense League, an antisemitic network that believes the Holocaust is a “Jewish lie” and that “Jews were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack.”

Oct. 25: Hundreds of antisemitic flyers, which asserted that Jews were in control of politics and the media and were responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, are distributed in Raleigh, N.C.

Oct. 27: Kyrie Irving tweets a link to a film called Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America. The movie, released in 2018, was widely condemned for antisemitic tropes including Holocaust denial, falsely claiming that “Jewish slave ships” facilitated the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the “New World Order” conspiracy theory about a secret society that aims to control the world, which draws inspiration from the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion document. The film is affiliated with the Hebrew Israelite or Black Hebrew movement, which accuses Jewish people of being imposters who “stole the religious heritage of Black people” and regularly refers to Judaism as the “synagogue of Satan.”

Oct. 28: The New York Times reports that more than 1,200 tweets and retweets of antisemitic memes and images were posted on Twitter after its purchase by Elon Musk. Musk’s intention to “loosen content moderation rules in the name of free speech” directly preceded this surge, allowing Twitter users to more freely spread hate speech without fear of consequences.

Oct. 29: The phrase “Kanye was right about the Jews” appears on a video board on the exterior of TIAA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., after a college football game.

Nov. 9: A video circulates showing a Hasidic Jewish man being harassed on a subway in New York City, with the perpetrator yelling “The Jews [were never] enslaved” and “You wrote yourselves into history” at the Jewish man.

Nov. 10: A man in New Jersey is arrested in connection with a series of threats made against synagogues in the state.

Nov. 10: Antisemitic flyers are found on residents’ doorsteps in Kalorama, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Nov. 12: Dave Chappelle hosts Saturday Night Live and states in his monologue, “If you had some kind of issue, you might go out to Hollywood and start connecting some kind of lines and you could maybe adopt the illusion that Jews run show business.” Afterward, he added, “It’s not a crazy thing to think, but it’s a crazy thing to say out loud.” Although some have defended Chappelle, his insistence that conspiracies about Jews controlling Hollywood are “not a crazy thing to think” effectively validates antisemitic beliefs by making it seem like they are normal to have.

Nov. 14: In a Chicago suburb, more than three dozen headstones at a Jewish cemetery are vandalized. The vandalization included spray painting the phrase “Kanye was rite” on a headstone. Sixteen others had swastikas on them.

Nov. 15: In Bethesda, Md., graffiti that reads “NO MERCY FOR JEWS” is seen next to a depiction of three hanged figures.

Nov. 20: Outside Barclays stadium in Brooklyn, hundreds of people wearing shirts that say “Israel United in Christ” gather in support of Kyrie Irving’s first game since his suspension was lifted. Israel United in Christ is a Hebrew Israelite organization whose beliefs include claims that Jewish people are actually “fake Jews” and that Jews abuse the term antisemitism “for their own evil gain.” Israel United in Christ has been described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Nov. 20: Two men, one of whom wore a swastika armband, are arrested in Penn Station in connection to threats to attack a New York City synagogue.

Nov. 22: In Culver City, Calif., antisemitic flyers are found at people’s homes in what police are calling a “hate incident.”

Nov. 23: Ye is spotted with Nick Fuentes at a Miami airport and at Mar-a-Lago. Fuentes is a documented antisemite and Holocaust denier who said “When it comes to the Jews, every society where shit has gone down with these people, it always goes from zero to 60.” Fuentes marched in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which supporters chanted “Jews will not replace us.” Both Ye and Fuentes dined with former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago, during which Trump reportedly turned to Ye and said of Fuentes, “I really like this guy. He gets me.”

This is far from an exhaustive account of recent antisemitic incidents, but it is enough to illustrate the severity of the issue. Whether it’s in the form of online threats from celebrities, public displays of hatred, or intent to commit violent acts against Jewish people, antisemitic incidents of all types have become frighteningly common in recent months. With a former president meeting with two known antisemites, one of whom is a Holocaust denier, antisemitism threatens to become even more mainstream.

While I do not intend to speak for the entire Jewish community at the College — whose student body is about 10 percent Jewish — I can confidently say that every Jewish student I have discussed this issue with has expressed concern about the recent rise of antisemitism. At the same time, I have heard many complaints from Jewish students about how little attention this issue gets among the student body and about how often it is downplayed and dismissed as somehow less important than other issues.

My departing message is simple: Include Jews in your activism. Spread awareness to friends and family, peers and colleagues, and on social media. Learn what you can about the more than two-millennia-long history of antisemitism to help us avoid re-living past horrors. Research and support organizations that work to combat antisemitism. We can take action to address this issue, and I encourage you all to do what you can to help so we can work together to fight antisemitism in all its forms.

Oscar Nobel ’25 is from Brooklyn, N.Y.