UFC’s Joe Rogan branded ‘bigot’ and ‘anti-Semite’ for promoting Jewish smear
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Joe Rogan is facing allegations of anti-Semitism after the globally renowned podcaster made some questionable comments about Jewish people.
The comments were made on episode 1,936 of The Joe Rogan Experience, where the host was joined by Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, who present the political YouTube series, Breaking Points. It's around halfway through the three-hour Spotify show (at 1:29:30) that Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar came up in reference to her 2019 apology for tweeting: "It's all about the Benjamins [hundred dollar bills], baby."
Some interpreted that comment as an anti-Semitic trope in itself, though Omar was quick to pedal back and say she never intended to offend 'her constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole'. Not long after saying he was 'so left [politically] his whole life', UFC commentator Rogan used a crass joke while giving his opinion why Omar shouldn't have apologised.
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"It's crazy," said Rogan. "Did you see [California congressman Adam Schiff] sitting next to Ilhan Omar, where she's apologising for talking about 'It's all about the Benjamins?' Which is just about money.
"She's talking about money. That's not an anti-Semitic 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*****g stupid. It's f*****g stupid."
The point appeared to be lost on the UFC shot-caller that few people were likely in the dark as to what the 'Benjamins' reference was about, but more so the prejudicial connotations it may have for Jewish people. The stereotype that Jews are greedy and horde wealth traces back to the Middle Ages and was one of the main tools of propaganda Adolf Hitler's Nazi party used to inspire dissent during the Holocaust.
Neither Ball nor Enjeti challenged Rogan on his remark, with the former even laughing along before diverting to a more general discussion on "the influence of money in [Washington] D.C.," specifically that of the Israeli government. However, it wasn't lost on some listeners that the two were making very different points, as Ball focused on Israel's influence in the States, while Rogan spoke only of Jews as a people.
“'The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. 'That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza' would make sense if Jews invented money and/or Italians had been massacred because of a conspiracy that they control the world through pizza," tweeted Jewish columnist Ian Haworth. "Then — and this is the crucial point — the conversation immediately pivots to Israel policy, and Krystal Ball's grinning defence of Ilhan Omar. So. . .are we talking about Jews or Israel? Joe Rogan is talking about Jews. Krystal Ball is trying to talk about Israel. Which is it?"
New York-born British comedian David Baddiel, an outspoken member of the Jewish community, also criticised the comments. He said it's 'hard to stop banging the Jews Don't Count drum' when a 'racist myth' is uttered so "breezily on one of the biggest podcasts in the world and no-one gives a f***."
The Joe Rogan Experience was ranked by Buzzsprout metrics as the most-listened-to podcast in the world between the third quarter of 2021 and the third quarter of 2022. Previously aired exclusively on YouTube, the podcast moved to Spotify in 2020 after Rogan signed a multi-year deal reportedly worth more than $200million.
Spotify doesn't publish its subscriber figures publicly, but it was reported in 2022 that each episode of the show typically attracts around 11m listeners. Rogan has attracted scrutiny in the past for alleged Covid-19 misinformation, and the former Fear Factor host issued an apology in early 2022 after footage emerged of him making racist remarks and repeatedly saying the N-word on his show.
Jeremy Burton, executive director of Greater Boston's Jewish Community Relations Council, said Rogan's 'joke' was the "latest in a long line of celebrities pushing anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money." The Daily Star has reached out to Rogan and his team for comment.
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