Earlier this month, DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles faced widespread backlash from sports fans and members of the Philadelphia community — including Penn’s student body — after posting a series of anti-semitic quotes on social media.
The Instagram posts, which have now been deleted, included a quote attributed to Hitler and quotes from Louis Farrakhan, a known anti-semite. Jackson has since apologized multiple times for the posts, including on Twitter and Instagram, The New York Times reported.
Following intense media backlash, the Eagles’ Instagram account released a statement of its own, condemning Jackson’s comments, calling the posts “absolutely appalling,” and calling for Jackson to “use his platform to take action to promote unity, equality, and respect.”
The Eagles have since stated that they penalized Jackson for sharing the posts, without elaborating on what his penalty will entail.
Jacob Cohen, a 2020 College graduate, said although he is glad to see that Jackson has repeatedly apologized for his comments, he was still extremely surprised to see they were posted in the first place.
“I was disappointed that the rest of league did not immediately condemn his statements that were so overtly anti-Semitic," Cohen said. "As our country works to extinguish all forms of hate, I worry that anti-semitism will not be included.”
Rising College senior Talia Rosenberg, a member of the Hillel community at Penn, said that the intersection between the struggles of the Jewish and Black communities in America, as presented in Jackson’s posts, is harmful to both communities involved.
Rosenberg believes the quotes, which she said state that Jewish people took the identity of Israelites from Black people, serve to place Jewish people at the root of many issues of racism.
“I care so much about this fight against racism, I hate to see it being pushed on the Jewish community in a way that hits back at the antisemitic tropes of the 1930s,” Rosenberg said.
Penn‘s United Minority Council expressed that Jackson’s comments are unacceptable, and that his apology is only the first step of moving forward towards greater understanding of why his words are hurtful.
"Anti-Semitism has no place in our society. It is critical that we hold all members of society accountable, including ourselves," UMC wrote in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. "This especially applies to public figures with considerable influence over others, as seen in DeSean Jackson’s case. An apology statement is only the beginning; concrete action must follow."
Rising College junior Sam Strickberger, co-Chair of Shira Chadasha, a community within Hillel that holds services every Friday night, said this incident highlights the lack of education in America on the Holocaust. He believes the nation's own understanding of historical antisemitism is “nowhere near what it should be,” he said.
“So many Americans are grossly uninformed about our past,” Strickberger said.
Strickberger also said that members of the Jewish community both within and outside of Penn should be calling out Jackson’s comments as unacceptable, and said their involvement in matters of social justice should not stop there.
“The Jewish community is diverse, and there are Jews of color, but a lot of us are white Jews," Strickberger said. "Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, and if you’re calling out injustice that affects your own community, you should be calling out examples of this in ways that don’t, too.”
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