As images of the banner held above Interstate 405 in Los Angeles claiming “Kanye is right about the Jews” ricocheted across the internet over the weekend, Jessica Seinfeld decided to take a stand.
A cookbook author and wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld posted a simple piece of text on a black background that reads “I support my friends and the Jewish people” and encouraged her 580,000 followers to share the post.
Seinfeld, who is Jewish, weighed in two weeks after West, the rapper who now goes by the name Ye, made a series of anti-Semitic comments, including a call for “go death con 3” about Jews. The banner was unfurled by members of the Goyim Defense League, a white supremacist group whose calling card is the distribution of anti-Semitic literature in communities across the United States.
For many, the banner has become emblematic of how West’s comments can be seen as part of a larger pattern of anti-Semitism in the United States — and for Seinfeld and others who are active on social media , it became the latest in a series of high-profile posts. moments that demand public expressions of solidarity.
“If you don’t know what to say, you can just say it in your feed,” Seinfeld wrote.
Seinfeld’s simple post was reminiscent of other posts that went viral at other times in the recent past, including the black box that became a symbol of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer of 2020. posted on Sunday night, it has been shared countless times, including by prominent celebrities.
While Jewish comedian Amy Schumer was among the first to share Seinfeld’s message and other Jewish celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, have shared it, many public figures who amplify it are part of Seinfeld’s target audience. : non-Jews.
Jenna Bush Hager, Meghan McCain, Gemma Chan and Reese Witherspoon all shared the post. The same goes for various members of the Jenner-Kardashian family, who were notably once connected to West through Kim Kardashian’s marriage to him until the couple’s divorce in March.
Kim Kardashian did not share the Seinfeld or Schumer post, but wrote a short statement in an Instagram Story, a form of posting that is visible for 24 hours.
“Hate speech is never acceptable or excusable,” Kardashian wrote. “I stand with the Jewish community and call for an immediate end to the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric against them.”
The post’s virality sparked both relief and frustration among Jewish social media users. Some had worried aloud that non-Jews were not rising up to condemn anti-Semitism with the same force with which many of them fought anti-LGBTQ racism and hatred.
“Release is a group project,” Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, resident scholar at the National Council of Jewish Women, tweeted Sunday. “Jews have to show up for non-Jews. Whites must report to BIPOC. Able-bodied people must report for disabled people. Cis people must show up for trans people. We must all come together for a more whole future. Non-Jews, come get us?
But some Jews dismissed the viral post as a social media stunt that could be replaced with concrete action. The same criticism has been leveled frequently against people who shared messages of solidarity about the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
“Your black square with the empty words and the cesspool that is your comments section does nothing to dismantle anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish community,” wrote Debbie Lechtman, jewelry designer and online anti-Semitism activist. “So instead of lying to us and lying to the world, I’d rather you didn’t say anything [sic] at all. Seriously.”
Lechtman said people sharing Seinfeld’s post demonstrated a “false alliance” and instead offered a 10-slide Instagram carousel in which she lamented not being able to build a non-Jewish audience for her regular posts on the Internet. anti-Semitism and described actions that she believed would represent more meaningful efforts, including “condemning[ing] the anti-Semitism of your allies” and “talk[ing] for the Jews you don’t like.
For Lechtman and others who hold a similar view, the moment conjures up painful memories of May 2021, when an outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence sparked a high volume of posts critical of Israel. Some Jewish Instagram users said the slew of anti-Israel posts left them feeling alone, especially when seeking to counter inaccuracies.
Already, the response to Seinfeld’s post and West’s anti-Semitism is veering into some of the divisive territory that characterized posts at that time. A pro-Israel Instagram user, who is part of a coterie of Zionist social media activists, posted a doctored version of Seinfeld’s place to add an asterisk that reads in part, “as long as you don’t ‘re not Zionists until you are”. t religious, as long as your political views align with mine.
But the gratitude of Jewish social media users when non-Jews have posted about opposing anti-Semitism is also widespread. Seinfeld shared sample messages thanking her, and other widely-followed social media users reported the same — in a dynamic that one of Twitter’s most prominent voices suggested was unsettling.
“Every time I tweet about anti-Semitism I get thank you messages from Jewish people in my life,” Yashar Ali, who is not Jewish, wrote to his 730,000 followers on Monday. “It’s graceful but tragic. The Jewish people, who make up only 0.2% of the world’s population, feel so alone in the fight against anti-Semitism that they notice whenever Gentiles stand up for them.
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