DeSean Jackson’s posts spark discussions on oppression, anti-Semitism

Hadas Kuznits
July 09, 2020 - 4:42 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has dominated the headlines over the past few days.

He shared on social media a quote incorrectly attributed to Adolf Hitler, as well as praise for Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, which is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It read, in part: “White Jews … will extort America, their plan for world domination won't work if the Negroes know who they were.”

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The Instagram posts sparked immediate outrage from Jewish communities, and Jackson has since apologized several times. Jewish community leaders in Philadelphia took this as an opportunity to educate the football player — and those who may agree with that quote — about how circulating even the slightest anti-Semitic remark can have immediate, devastating effects. 

David Adelman, chair of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, said the post was disturbing, but he reached out to Jackson through a mutual friend, and they plan to educate themselves better. 

“(DeSean) has feelings of his own through what's going on out there today that he wanted to get out there, and unfortunately, I just think that this was not the best path for it,” said Adelman.

Adelman offered to host an educational session and tour of the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which Jackson accepted. In turn, Adelman will visit The African American Museum in Philadelphia with Jackson.

Adelman emphasized that Jackson’s post is not indicative of the relationship between Philadelphia's Black and Jewish communities.

“When the Tree of Life tragedy happened in Pittsburgh and we held a vigil here in Philadelphia, many members of the black clergy showed up in support and solidarity with us,” he recalled. The 2018 mass shooting at the synagogue claimed the lives of 11 people. “And during the Black Lives Matter events over the last several weeks, various (Jewish) organizations stood by our Black friends in the community to know that we're here for you as well.”

However, a few loud anti-Jewish sentiments have already bled into some of America’s social justice movements, according to Laura Frank, spokesperson for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. 

“It pops up in the Women's March. It pops up in the Black Lives Matter organization, so it is something that we're worried about,” she said, noting that these instances of anti-Semitism are not mainstream. “The majority of people in these groups … do not support (anti-Semitic) viewpoints. It is a few loud voices that are cutting through. 

“(Palestinian activist) Linda Sarsour is one of them. She has recently announced that anybody who supports Israel shouldn't be allowed at any of these protests, and that makes it more important for everybody to speak up and make sure that these people who want to divide us don't succeed.”

Over the past several years, there’s been a growing anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment in American politics, which Frank said has led to even more discord.

“We’re seeing a much more mainstream view — particularly on the far-left — that really admonishes the Israeli state,” she said. “They say they support Palestinians, therefore we do not support Israel, and a lot of people want to believe that that has nothing to do with Jews; that that doesn't mean they're anti-Semitic. But we're seeing that line get blurrier and blurrier, where these movements … go so far to demonize Israel that they end up spreading anti-Semitism. They go beyond just criticizing international policy to criticizing Jews, and we’ve seen a lot of violence come from that belief.”

Just this past December, three people and a police officer were shot and killed at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City. A few weeks later, a man invaded a rabbi’s Monsey home with a machete. Several people were stabbed, and one succumbed to his injuries months later.

Jackson’s initial post also had praise for Farrakhan, the controversial figure who Frank said often spreads anti-minority views. She explains why it was so poignant to see a major public figure like Jackson share Farrakhan’s words:

Jared Jackson, founder of the Philly-based Jews in All Hues — who is not related to the football player — said his organization works to address misunderstandings surrounding prejudices.

“A lot of anti-Semitism is taught to Black and brown people as a way to be a red herring when it comes to fighting white supremacy, and the same goes for racism with Jews,” he explained.

He said it’s more important for DeSean Jackson to understand the quote and learn about its history rather than fire him from the Eagles.

“The narrative really should be on how people learn these anti-Semitic tropes,” said Jared Jackson, emphasizing education. “I even question how many people in his inner circle are actually Jews, and if they are, do they actually care about him? Do they bring him in? Do they talk to him?

“Dividing people is one of the greatest tools of oppression — takes us away from what the real problem is, and that is white supremacy.”