SAN DIEGO – Antisemitic signs appearing across Los Angeles are not exclusive to just the north. These acts of hate and ignorance are something San Diego County has seen before.

In fact, hate crimes against Jewish people in the area have jumped 31% in 2021, according to the Anti-Defamation League of San Diego County. Over 38 antisemitic incidents were recorded, 23 of which were cases of harassment, 14 were cases of vandalism and one was labeled as an assault.

A slew of recent antisemitic comments made by the rapper most commonly known as Kanye West has sparked recent uproar across social media. These hateful and ignorant comments circulating via popular culture is now being felt personally by some San Diegans.

Betzy Lynch, the CEO of the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, told FOX 5 she happens to be a fan of hip-hop music and was even a fan of some of West’s songs. She says the rapper’s remarks have brought along a wave of emotions.

“I know he suffers from mental illness or at least that’s something I’ve understood, so there’s a part of me that feels bad and there’s another part of me that is deeply disturbed that someone could and would choose to take the platform that he has and use it in a hateful way against anyone,” Lynch said.

On the heels of the rapper’s remarks, in Los Angeles, just above the 405 freeway, anti-Semitic signs hung along an overpass. It’s something Fabienne Perlov, the new regional director with ADL San Diego, says only fuels thousands of years of hate and ignorance.

“As a popstar with like 40 million followers which is more than double the number of Jews living in the world, he’s able to spread hate and antisemitism to a larger worldwide audience in just a few minutes.” 

Fabienne Perlov, ADL San Diego

The year 2019 is still ingrained on the hearts and minds of San Diegans, when a woman was killed, and three others were injured after a shooter attacked a synagogue in Poway.

“This was a white supremacist as well behind this terrible action,” Perlov said.

As the Jewish community still picks up the pieces of oppression, Perlov and her team have implemented resources to help educate, inform and protect. For example, ADL San Diego’s ‘No Place for Hate’ program: a school-wide initiative aimed to “improve school climate that amplifies students’ voices in creating the school they want and leverages the wisdom of teachers, administrators and family members to achieve their school climate goals!” They also offer Anti-Bias and Allyship Workshops aimed to “actively challenge prejudice, stereotyping and all forms of discrimination.”

While acts of hate and ignorance circulate yet again, activists stress the power of action and voice.

“I think it’s right to take caution, I think it’s right to be concerned, but the most important thing that you can do is be proud, be proud of who you are and do not be afraid and show up in these spaces to help provide education particularly in places in which the narrative is happening,” Lynch said.