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Doug Emhoff, Jewish spouse of VP Harris, talks rise in antisemitism during GOTV visit to Twin Cities

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — The growing, if not delayed, outrage against Kanye West’s antisemitism is provoking larger conversations about hatred against Jews in America, and the first Jewish spouse of a U.S. vice president has recognized this critical moment.

“Of course I’m going to speak up and speak out about antisemitism, and we’re experiencing a lot of it very publicly right now,” Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff said Tuesday at a DFL Get Out The Vote Rally at the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center. “We know what can happen. We know what has happened. It’s imperative right now, not only as Jews but all of us, to stand united to speak up and out against this epidemic of hate, this toxicity in our society.”

Emhoff’s comments come on the same day as Adidas announced it would end its partnership with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, over his offensive and antisemitic remarks, the latest company to cut ties with Ye and a decision that the German sportswear company said would hit its bottom line.

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

Earlier this month, Ye tweeted a threat that he would go “death [sic] con 3” on Jewish people, alluding to a defense readiness designation used by the U.S. military. He also posted a screenshot of a text exchange with Sean “Diddy” Combs in which he suggested Combs was being controlled by Jews. Later, he appeared on a podcast and gleefully said he could be openly antisemitic and “Adidas can’t drop me.” 

The company faced pressure to cut ties with Ye, with celebrities and others on social media urging Adidas to act. Adidas said at the beginning of the month that it was placing its lucrative sneaker deal with the rapper under review. 

It took nearly three weeks for them to actually cut ties.

“I would have liked a clear stance earlier from a German company that also was entangled with the Nazi regime,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the main Jewish group in the country where Adidas is headquartered.

Antisemitic incidents spiking in U.S. and in Minnesota

Infamous for being the oldest hatred, antisemitism and conspiracy theories about Jews has long been manifest across the country and even in Minnesota.

“You look back to 1941 and Charles Lindbergh, who after Franklin Roosevelt was probably the most widely-known American of his age. He goes on national radio and says that the British, President Roosevelt and the Jews are leading us to war, and the reason Jews are involved is because they control the press, they control Hollywood, they control the banks,” Steve Hunegs, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, explained to WCCO. “Talk about a thoroughly antisemitic statement.”

Eight decades later, Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D) received fierce backlash for suggesting on social media that American support for Israel was “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”

“We know what it’s like to face such situations. People really stirring pots in this community,” Hunegs added, lamenting that Ye’s rhetoric adds new urgency to antisemitism becoming mainstream. “You begin to see that it’s not on the fringe on the left, it’s not on the fringe on the right, but coming straight for us as Americans. Naked, ugly, antisemitic rhetoric with an overtone of violence to it.”

Verbal and physical antisemitic attacks reached historic numbers in 2021, according to the Anti Defamation League, including 75 acts of harassment, vandalism and assault against Jews in Minnesota — a 226% increase since 2020.

In a troubling display over the weekend, a group of people raised their arms in Nazi salutes and hung a banner over a Los Angeles freeway, saying, “Kanye is right about the Jews.” 

“Hate begets hate,” said Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “You know, Kanye West put this out there and now we see real visible manifestations of hate.”

The Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles, meanwhile, said it has been flooded with antisemitic messages after West rejected their offer of a private tour. 

Source: CBS Minnesota

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