Stop listening to Ye and giving a platform to antisemitism

Antisemitic incidents are on the rise. The new age of social media and internet celebrities gives the unworthy, like Ye (formerly Kanye West), a platform once reserved for our political and ideological thought leaders.

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Rabbi Baruch Hertz speaks during a press conference at Congregation B’nei Ruven, 6350 N. Whipple St. in West Rogers Park, about hate crime charges filed against a man accused of spray-painting yellow swastikas on a synagogue and on the grounds of a Jewish high school on the North Side, Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 1, 2022.

Rabbi Baruch Hertz speaks at a February press conference at Congregation B’nei Ruven in West Rogers Park, about hate crime charges against a man accused of spray-painting yellow swastikas on a synagogue and at a Jewish high school.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The 50th Ward has more synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in a two-mile stretch than in the rest of the city combined. We are proud of our identity as Chicago’s largest Jewish community, and we are proud of our diversity. However, communities like ours are increasingly facing danger.

Early this year, our neighborhood was rocked by antisemitism. Swastikas were drawn on synagogues and schools, and windows were broken at Jewish-owned businesses and places of worship. The attacks came mere days after Holocaust Remembrance Day. The police arrested an offender and charged him with multiple hate crimes.

Antisemitic incidents like these have increased by 430% in Illinois between 2016 and 2021, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Locally, hate crimes are up 71% this year, according to Chicago Commission on Human Relations Chair Nancy Andrade. The most frequent targets are Jewish residents.

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When public figures like Ye (formerly Kanye West) are left free to spout the most virulent antisemitic nonsense, attacks on Jews follow. His support for Hitler and Nazis on the far-right website Infowars emboldens bigots. When he posts a swastika on Twitter, Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues fear that they may find one spray-painted on their walls.

Don’t believe it? Ask the relatives of people whose loved ones rest in the Jewish cemetery in Waukegan, where vandals spray-painted “Kanye was right” alongside swastikas on 22 gravestones. Similar banners were hung over a Los Angeles freeway, and just last month, someone expressed the same twisted sentiment during public comment at the Chicago City Council.

Antisemitism is not new. But the new age of social media and internet celebrities gives the unworthy a platform once reserved for our political and ideological thought leaders. Now, any bigot can tweet his thoughts and find an audience who shares his twisted philosophy —and is willing to act on it.

Every time Kanye opens his mouth, the risk of antisemitism increases. It is time to stop listening to him. Time to stop giving him a platform for spreading hate and lies. Jewish communities here and around the world will thank you.

Ald. Debra Silverstein, 50th Ward

Pass legislation to combat climate change

With the high polarization of the election season in recent memory, it’s comforting to see that politicians are still willing to work across the aisle on important legislation like funding the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. We will have a new Congress in 2023, and making the most of the time we have now is critical.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act is a symbol of similar bipartisan effort. It passed in the U.S. Senate with 92 votes earlier this year (including both Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz), but it has yet to be brought to vote in the U.S. House.

If passed, the act will provide a framework that allows farmers to participate in carbon markets, an important tool we can use to combat climate change. Passing common sense, bipartisan legislation like the Solutions Act during a lame duck Congress is a no-brainer and a win for both sides after a heated election. Write your representatives to ask for their support.

Michael Holler, Montclare

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