Sick of Kanye West’s virulent antisemitism?
Take a stand against hatred.
Here are five examples of courageous people standing up to antisemitism.
Jackie Robinson broke color barriers in Major League Baseball, competed in six world series, and won countless awards. In 1962 he became an even bigger hero. When angry crowds marched outside Harlem’s Apollo Theater protesting against Frank Schiffman, its Jewish owner, who wanted to open a low-cost restaurant that could potentially threaten the business of a black-owned eatery. Antisemitic signs and chants were rife, and Black leaders were silent – except Robinson.
He was appalled and compared their fervor to the hatred of Germans during World War II. The marchers turned against Robinson, protesting outside restaurants where Robinson had been honored. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Black leaders voiced their support for Robinson, the protests finally died down.
Standing up against hate while suffering backlash, Robinson proved himself to be a legend both on, and off, the field as well.
When Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted an antisemitic message attributed to Hitler on Instagram, Steelers’ offensive tackle Zach Banner took a stand against hate. Though not Jewish, in college Banner had pledged the Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau where he learned about the persecution of the Jewish people throughout history.
In response to Jackson’s antisemitic post, Banner created a series of videos and tweets to dispel misconceptions about Jews and foster unity through education. Banner got involved in programs that tackled antisemitism and was given an award for his activism by New York City’s Museum of the Courageous.
Born in Poland in 1911, Czeslaw Milosz was a brilliant scholar and law student. While studying at Stefan Batory University, Milosz had made several Jewish friends. One night an antisemitic mob attacked and killed one of his friends.
After Hitler’s invasion, despite the great risk Milosz joined the Polish underground resistance and helped Jews hide and escape from the Vilna Ghetto. After the war, through his award-winning poetry he conveyed to the world the horrors of the ghettos, the willful blindness of the Polish populace, and the pain, suffering, and loss of the three million Polish Jews. Milosz won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980 and a posthumous honor as one of Righteous Among the Nations at Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem.
Derek Black was a prince of White Supremacy. His father was a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and he was the godson of David Duke, the notorious racist and antisemite. When Derek attended college in Florida, he was harassed and verbally abused due to his racist upbringing.
One day, Matthew Stevenson, a fellow student and Orthodox Jew, invited Derek to a Shabbat dinner. Derek had never met a Jew, and now a social pariah, he decided to challenge his beliefs and accept the invitation. That Shabbat dinner sparked the beginning of a series of debates, discussions and a lifelong friendship. Stevenson’s act of kindness was crucial to unlocking Derek’s mind and led him to renounce his hatred and prejudices and seek forgiveness.
Norway’s Ring of Peace
On February 14, 2015 a 22-year-old gunman killed two men in Copenhagen, one at a free speech debate, the other at a synagogue. The attack heightened fears of antisemitism in the region, particularly for the small Jewish community of Oslo. Local Muslims sprang into action. After Shabbat, they joined hands forming a circle around the Norway’s oldest functioning synagogue, chanting “No to antisemitism, no to Islamophobia.” The grassroots initiative expressing solidarity with the Jewish community became known as the “Ring of Peace” and inspired other protective acts of unity across the country.
As antisemitism increases, let these shining examples of courage inspire you to stand against hatred and proudly stand up for being Jewish.
By Aish.com, Benjamin Elterman and Brian Spector
For more Jewish inspiration visit https://www.aish.com – the world’s leading Judaism website.