By Alan Zeitlin
(JNS) Dallas resident Alexander Feinstein, 20, said he watched all of the recent interviews in which celebrity Kanye West, now known as Ye, made antisemitic statements. The sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin thought something needed to be done.
Feinstein, who is a university-wide representative in student government, introduced a resolution that would ban the use of Ye’s music at campus sporting events. It passed unanimously on Nov. 1.
When he spoke in favor of the resolution, which was introduced with the help of fellow representatives Surekha Balakrishnan and Jerold Holman, he was met with applause, he told JNS.
Feinstein noted that at the Oct. 29 college football matchup in Jacksonville between the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs, someone projected “Kanye is right about the Jews” on the side of TIAA Bank Field.
“A statement doesn’t have the influence that it should,” Feinstein said. “When some actionable item is completed, it brings a lot more awareness to the issue and gives more power to the message you’re trying to portray.”
Feinstein is involved in Jewish life at the university, including with the campus Chabad, and said he ran for student government in part to help protect the Jewish community.
“I care deeply about Israel and want to make sure America is a safe place for Jews,” he said.
“When I came across the interviews [with Ye], I felt I needed to be knowledgeable about it, because I knew it was going to be a growing problem that needed to be combated,” Feinstein recounted. “I watched all the clips to see what he was saying.
“Yes, he seemed bipolar, but antisemitism is never okay in any way or any form,” he said. “Mental illness is not a reason to be an antisemite. I don’t think that perception is good for the mentally ill community or any community for this to be used as an excuse.”
Feinstein said he was once head of the Dallas Youth Commission and doesn’t know if he will go into business or politics when he graduates. He emphasized that all university campuses should work against hate of any kind and noted that some of his friends were involved in an altercation over the weekend involving antisemitism.
As of fall 2021, the University of Texas at Austin had 40,916 undergraduate students, 11,075 graduate students and 3,133 teaching faculty.
Feinstein wants his effort to have a larger effect.
“I hope other schools will find out about this and will be inspired to do the same,” he said.