As someone who wakes up every morning at 5:30am to listen to a radio show to get latest news updates, I got used to receiving bad news. But even I got caught off guard when I heard that pop star Justin Bieber was apparently a Nazi.
Shock isn’t enough to describe what I felt. Who could imagine Justin Bieber being a Nazi? I quickly scroll through a list his biggest hits, searching for clues, but nothing seems suspicious.
In cases like these, when emotions soar, it’s important to keep a level head and stick to the facts. It turns out the famous singer resumed his world tour on Tuesday after taking a break following a partial paralysis of his face. Shortly after his first show back had ended, in Finland's capital of Helsinki, reports began emerging of Bieber making the Nazi salute gesture on stage.
While inspecting the video footage from the performance, I could see Bieber taking monotonous steps, one hand holding the microphone with the other stretched forward. I watched it again, just to make sure I’m not missing anything. Could Bieber be a Nazi? Maybe. But if anyone who ever took slow steps with their hands stretched out is a Nazi, then anyone who ever practiced yoga would easily fall into that category.
As with all things that require careful inspection – it’s best to get a second opinion. Raz Shechnik, one of Ynet's culture reporters, happened to be at Bieber’s show in Helsinki. Shechnik, who suddenly finds himself in the role of a Nazi hunter, concludes that Bieber's only crime at that concert was performing with a backing track.
There are others, however, who feel differently, like the Conference of European Rabbis, who believe that Bieber's gesture was antisemitic. The conference slammed the singer on behalf "of all Jewish communities in Europe.”
President of the Conference of European Rabbis Rabi Pinchas Goldschmidt even issued a statement, saying, “The famous singer slapped in the face millions of Jews around the world with the ‘Sieg Heil’ salute, which indicates sympathy with the Nazi Party, and its leader Adolf Hitler.
"It’s unthinkable that a singer with tens of millions of fans makes such a gesture on European soil. I demand the singer’s explanation, and call on Israel to cancel his planned performance [in Tel Aviv] in October.”
To be clear, I don’t take the rise in antisemitism around the world lightly. When you look at the data, you can see there’s good reason to be worried. The annual report by the Anti-Defamation League shows a big spike in antisemitic incidents in 2021. In the U.S., antisemitic incidents reached an all time high in the last year.
However, there is no connection between the never-ending war against antisemitism and absurd accusations, like those leveled by certain Jewish organizations at popular figures in order to gain sympathy.
Such antics, apart from the embarrassment, do as much as a failed rocket launch from Gaza: fired to harm others, but eventually only does damage to the sender.