Rabbi Steve Leder on the Line Between Free Speech and Anti-Semitism

Ten years ago, I preached about transcending the Jewish victim narrative with which I grew up. In America we are accepted, free and safe, I reasoned. So, enough with the victim mentality.

Fast forward to a former president dining with a white supremacist who compared Jews in crematoriums to “cookies in an oven,” and a multimillionaire with more than 50 million followers who said he was Wanted to go to Death Con 3″.

Just before that banquet of Jew haters, a prominent athlete promoted a film about Jewish hatred, and a comic on “Saturday Night Live” said, “There are too many Jews in Hollywood. Too many.” He wasn’t legitimizing the trope about a scheming Jewish cartel running Hollywood, he was simply saying ‘…

The line between free speech and anti-Semitism is hard to define, but like sexual harassment, you know when you feel it.

Many of us are feeling it, and it is heartbreakingly sad.

Sadly, Jew-hatred is often promulgated by other marginalized communities. and saddened by privileged cultural examples who claim to be oppressed by Jews. Are some Jews privileged? Yes. Are Yeh, Dave Chappelle and Kyrie Irving privileged? Yes. We are all privileged and underprivileged in some way or the other. I can change a phrase, but I can’t sink.

More important than our differences is the fact that we are all the same: we are all human, and if you prick us, we will all bleed. Believing otherwise about Jews or anyone else is a danger to the lives of our country and people.

A decade ago, I declared from the pulpit that America was different, better; And the Jews must stop acting like all roads leading to Auschwitz.

I still believe in America. We are not on our way to Auschwitz. But lately, it definitely feels like we’re on the wrong track, shamefully going in the wrong direction.

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Story produced by John Goodwin and Robert Marston. Editor: Chad Cardin.

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