Antisemitism rises in Georgia, experts say

NBA star Kyrie Irving dropped by Nike amid controversial remarks about antisemitism
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 10:17 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Friday, defamation experts told Atlanta News First that antisemitic incidents of harassment and violence against Jewish people and institutions are on the rise in Georgia and across the nation.

It comes during a time when prominent celebrities like rapper Ye (previously referred to as Kanye West) and NBA basketball player Kyrie Irving have come under fire for antisemitic posts on social media.

Atlanta News First went to Brookhaven on Friday night, where just this week incidents of antisemitism were photographed.

Many members of the Jewish community told Atlanta News First they are worried that some of the recent public attacks on the Jewish community may be connected to the antisemitic rhetoric taking place.

Dov Wilker is the Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee and he told Atlanta News First that over the last few weeks messages of hate toward the Jewish community have been popping up all around Brookhaven.

Wilker said overall it’s a very unsettling time for the Jewish community.

As the sun sets on a Friday night, it’s the start of the Jewish Sabbath, and a time when Wilker looks forward to a more spiritual time surrounded by his family.

“Here we are on a Friday evening as my family and I welcome in the Shabbat,” Wilker said.

However, Wilker said instead of enjoying his traditional Jewish day of rest, he was on edge.

“To stand here and talk about antisemitic incidents that happened around the corner from my home in Brookhaven is really frightening.”

Hateful messages toward the Jewish community were plastered in graffiti on a nearby Brookhaven stop sign, a Baptist church, and even a house this week.

“Every Jewish person that lives in metro Atlanta has a heightened sense of anxiety because of the rise in antisemitism.”

Anti-Defamation League expert Eytan Davidson told Atlanta News First that harmful rhetoric posted on social media by prominent celebrities only fuels antisemitism in communities.

“Antisemitic incidents were at a record high from when we started keeping track of them in 1979 and in Georgia they increased by 133 percent,” Anti-Defamation League expert Eytan Davidson said.

Most recently, the outspoken rapper posted to Twitter saying he would, “go death con 3 on Jewish people.”

Meanwhile, NBA basketball star Kyrie Irving defended his support for a so-called documentary that denied the existence of the Holocaust.

“It’s clearly having an impact,” Wilker said.

Just this week the FBI caught wind of a bomb threat against synagogues in New Jersey but authorities say, they located the man who claimed to hate Jews.

Rabbis across the country are on high alert, too.

A synagogue in Sandy Springs sent a message to its members reminding them about the emphasis they’re taking on security at this time.

“Our leaders, our public voices, our influencers need to be held accountable for their public statements and their actions. Hatred against one is hatred against all,” Wilker said.

Late Friday night Nike announced they were ending its partnership with Kyrie Irving amid his public statements.

Adidas dropped Ye while Morehouse College decided not to host a Kanye West Donda Doves event scheduled to take place on Nov. 4 in Atlanta.

Wilker said one thing we can all do as a community right now is to denounce messages of hate and make sure that we report anything that we see that is antisemitic.