“Anti-Semitism is at an all-time high.” 5 celebrities who stood up to anti-Semitism
From George Takei to Madonna, these celebrities want you to listen and act.
Growing up in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong struck a friendship with the Karnofskys, a family of Jewish peddlers from Lithuania for whom he had worked as a boy. This friendship is to be credited not only for Armstrong’s command of Yiddish and love for matzah, but also for his deep understanding of the threats of anti-Semitism. In 1969, Armstrong wrote a lengthy memoir of his relationship with the Karnofskys called “Louis Armstrong + the Jewish Family in New Orleans, La., the Year of 1907.” In it he told of how surprised he had been to discover that they “were having problems of their own.”
Dame Helen Mirren
“Anti-Semitism is still pertinent,” Dame Helen Mirren, a good friend of the State of Israel, recently said. Thank you for speaking out.
Born in a Japanese family in Los Angeles in 1937, Star Trek star George Takei spent 3 years in an internment camp in Arkansas. During WW II, his family, just like most Japanese families in the US at the time, was considered a possible threat to the country. This experience later opened his eyes to other people’s plights as well: “In my mind, I’ve always tried to draw a strong distinction between the internment camps and the extermination camps. And what had the Jews done to deserve death? The stereotype was that they were ‘shrewd.’ Just like we’re supposed to be ‘inscrutable.’ That was our crime.”
Kabbalah-loving Madonna knows there’s nothing mystical about anti-Semitism: the old disease is bound to flare up every now and then and, as she observed in 2015, “anti-Semitism is at an all-time high.” The singer didn’t stop there. Intolerance in France and across Europe today is so high that “it feels like Nazi Germany,” she said in an interview. We can only hope people will listen not only to her songs, but to her important message too.
Michael Douglas was fast to learn that embracing your Jewish identity comes at a high price: anti-Semitism. But he knows better than to just keep quiet. Enter one of the most outspoken critics of anti-Semitism and hate. Good to have you on our side, Michael!