Joe Rogan is drawing backlash for spreading the antisemitic trope that Jews are greedy. Rogan’s comments came during the February 4th episode of his Joe Rogan Experience podcast. His Spotify podcast is one of the most popular in America and averages over 11 million listeners per show.

Here is a breakdown of what he said and why it is antisemitic.

What did Joe Rogan say?

Rogan, along with his podcast guests Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, co-hosts of the “Breaking Points Podcast” discussed U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar’s ouster from the Foreign Affairs Committee and made reference to her recent appearance on TV where she discussed her past antisemitic statements.

“[Omar] apologizing for talking about 'It’s all about the Benjamins', which is just about money - she’s talking about money,” Rogan said.

“She shouldn’t have apologized. I mean, I’ll go ahead and say it.” Ball interjected.

Then Rogan went on to say “That’s not an antisemitic statement, I don’t think that is. Benjamins are money. The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza, it’s f*cking stupid. It’s f*cking stupid.”

Ball replied, saying that Omar could have phrased it differently so “people would have less of a freak out” but then went on to ask that “then can you not talk about the influence of money in D.C.?” to which Rogan replied, “of course.”

 Ball continued: “There is a very obvious reason why for my entire life there’s been a uniparty consensus around our policy vis-à-vis the Israeli government and a total inability and unwillingness to criticize the Israeli government. It has everything to do with organization, and yes, money.”

Rogan responded “yes” and then later said that “whether you agree with [Omar] or not, she has a bold opinion, and that opinion is not her own, and many people have that opinion and they should be represented” without alluding to what that opinion is.

@JoeRogan, in defending Rep. Omar's past antisemitic comments, you invoke the same tropes that have been used to persecute Jews for centuries.

With an audience of millions, it's dangerous to be so flippant in trafficking in antisemitic stereotypes. Happy to explain on your pod.

— Ted Deutch, CEO of American Jewish Committee (@AJCCEO) February 7, 2023


What’s the backstory with Rep. Omar?

On Feb. 2 the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to oust Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee over her past comments about Israel and Jewish people that were widely criticized as antisemitic.

In 2019, Omar drew criticism for tweeting that pro-Israel groups were “all about the Benjamins, baby,” in reference to one hundred dollar bills and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, invoking antisemitic tropes such as Jewish greed and dual loyalty.

Following that incident, the Democratic-controlled House at the time approved an overwhelmingly bipartisan resolution to condemn “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry” without specifically naming Omar.

Why was what Joe Rogan said about Jews and money antisemitic?

Rogan saying that “the idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous” is a clear example of the long-held stereotype that Jews are money-loving.

According to AJC’s Translate Hate glossary, the greed trope is the foundation for some of the most constant antisemitic falsehoods and the association of Jews with greed has fueled jew hatred throughout history, including today.

The theme of greed in antisemitic rhetoric is so widespread that it’s led to a long list of Jewish stereotypes, including being excessively materialistic and money-oriented, exploiting others for personal gain, being overly wealthy, and controlling the world’s finances.

In the Middle Ages—when Christians were forbidden by the Church to lend money for interest—money-lending, trade, and commerce were the few professions Jews were allowed to have. Jews were blamed for usury, the act of charging high rates of interest, and this association led to stereotypes about Jewish greed and wealth. 

From Shakespeare’s sinister Jewish caricature in The Merchant of Venice to Rothschild's schemes of world domination to Nazi propaganda on Jewish economic control, the antisemitic trope of greed can be found in everything from pop culture to deep-web conspiracy theories.

Why was what Krystal Ball said about Jews and influence on the U.S. government problematic?

Ball’s statement calling into question the reasons for America’s strong ties with Israel, with which Rogan also agreed, is a long-held stereotype that implies American Jews manipulate U.S. foreign policy, specifically when it comes to supporting the Jewish state. The statement echoes the antisemitic tropes of a so-called “Jewish lobby” in “control” of politics and money.

According to AJC’s Translate Hate glossary, Rogan and Ball were spreading an antisemitic conspiracy from the discredited publication, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was published in Russian tsarist times and accused Jews of trying to control the world. These myths of control portray Jews as secret puppet masters ruling over others and manipulating the world’s governments. For centuries, this claim led to Jews being blamed for leading “blind” world leaders into wars and into debt to enrich themselves and further their own hidden agenda.

Today, Israel is one of America’s top global allies for many reasons, from shared democratic values to strategic interests. In fact, poll after poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support strong U.S.-Israel relations. To suggest that this relationship exists solely because of the influence of money as Ball claims and Rogan affirms, is a mischaracterization of reality. 

“Israel did not grow strong because it had an American alliance. It acquired an American alliance because it had grown strong,” writes Walter Russell Mead, Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship at the Hudson Institute and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, in his book, “The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People.” Click here to listen to his interview, “Walter Russell Mead: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions About the U.S.-Israel Relationship” on AJC’s People of the Pod.

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