In this special episode (an in-person recording), Zibby is joined by New York Times bestselling authors Noa Tishby, an actor and Israeli activist, and Emmanuel Acho, a sports analyst and former NFL linebacker, to discuss UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW. They share the impetus for this project and delve into the book's main topics: antisemitism; the Holocaust; power, money, and white privilege; Zionism and Israel; the Black and Jewish struggle; and even what is happening on college campuses today. They also talk about their partnership and friendship—and how an argument almost ended it all.


Zibby: Welcome, Emmanuel. I'm so I'm so excited to welcome you on Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books in person today.


Tishby: Thank you so much. 

Emmanuel: Great to be here. 

Zibby: This is my first, like, mashup of two prior guests together. Okay, uncomfortable conversations with a Jew. Tell listeners about the book. When did you decide to do it? And why does everybody need to read it? Because they do. 

Emmanuel: I don't think there's a more necessary or urgent conversation to be had in society, in our world, than the one we talk about in the book.

I mean, look at what's going on, not just in the world, but I would suggest maybe what's going on in your world, college campuses, what's going on in your neighborhood. You don't have to look thousands of miles away. You can literally look at what's going on right outside your house. And I reached out to Noah maybe two years ago, about writing this book. I just noticed that there was a lot of anti Semitism, but people couldn't even define anti Semitism. So how can you fix it if you can't define it? I called Noah about writing the project. 

Tishby: I said yes very quickly, very, very quickly. So I always say this, but I just want to point out that Immanuel noticed that there is a rise in anti Semitism years before anybody outside of the Jewish community noticed that.

So from within the Jewish community, we were kind of looking around going, on? Okay, like, Louis Fargo ended up becoming really aggressive and Kanye West is like, becoming insane. What's happening? And we felt it from a lot of different places, from the right, from the left, from radicalism in various areas in society and Emmanuel noticed that too. And he reached out and he literally said, I want your community to know that relief is on the way and I start crying. 

Emmanuel: And if I may, I think that like, We don't know what we don't know and there are different areas of knowledge, if you will, you know that you don't know, you don't know that you don't know, you don't know whether you know something.

And I realized, wait a second, I don't even know what I need to know. Like I called Noah, I do a sports show every day and I called Noah before one show and I said, Hey, what is antisemitism? And it was the first time my mind was illuminated where Noah said to me, there's not a Semite that you can be anti.

Like there is a group of Semitic languages, but it's not like you're anti Black or anti White. Anti Semitism is not a person that you are anti. And for the first time, I was illuminated as to what anti Semitism actually is and if I who try to pursue knowledge doesn't know that, then how much more people who are just kind of navigating their life.

So this book not only addresses that, but it addresses literally any question you may have about a Jewish person walking society. 

Zibby: And it's amazing because it's not even too long, which is great. And what's great about what you both did in this book is you distilled so much so much information into not only shorter bits that people could understand, but then gave analogies to make it really relatable.

Antisemitism is like a layer cake, or this is like the football huddle, or this is, and I'm like, Oh, okay, because I'm Jewish and I should know all this, but I learned stuff in here too. This is for everyone. 

Tishby: I love, I love that. I love that people from the community actually learn new things because honestly, I think that a lot of people from the Jewish community in the diaspora, felt very complacent and didn't kind of realize what was happening.

So we allowed ourselves to not know a lot of things that we should know, like being able to answer what is antisemitism and know that it's not hyphenated and it's one word. So this was a great opportunity and I love when people that actually know, learn more. 

Emmanuel: I think what's so fascinating about having hard conversations, especially in real spaces and safe spaces, is you can ask whatever and you can get real answers.

When you navigate society very Plainly, as we most often do because we're afraid of tension, then you can't get the truth to a situation. But I asked Noah, like, straight up. Hey, I feel like you're gaslighting me when you say Jewish people aren't in power. Because in my life they are in power. Again, for those that are listening and might be appalled by that statement, I was drafted in the National Football League where my owner was a Jewish man.

And the second owner of the team I was traded to was a Jewish man. And the eighth general manager of that team was a Jewish man. So I'm like, no, I feel like you're gaslighting me. Like, let's, let's break this down because I see people like Dave Chappelle getting hot water for saying something that I feel like is similar, but then Noah will tell me, well, Emmanuel, there's a fine line of a difference.

And, and, and no, honestly, I want you to eloquently say what you said to me. 

Tishby: So when we talked about that, I said, so obviously Emmanuel's experience in his life is that he has a lot of Jewish people around him that are in positions of power around his life. And that is nothing, there's nothing anti Semitic about that, obviously.

There's also nothing anti Semitic about acknowledging that there are a lot of Jewish people working in Hollywood and a lot of Jewish people that are lawyers. Like, there's nothing anti Semitic about that. The line is crossed into, oh, these Jews, they control the media, but like, they totally control the banks.

Like they, this, this concept of control is this conspiratorial attitude towards the Jews, attributing them this mythological power and that. for every Jew in the world is a complete freak out because we know what preceded that usually historically, and that is a massacre. So we'd be like, these Jews have so much power, cut two, let's take that power out, cut two, round it up on trains and take it away.

And that happened historically for thousands of years. So suddenly when we were talking about this, Emmanuel's like, oh, he's like, but why is it offensive? The Jews are, they, they're in power. I'm like, cause we're not in power. You have a lot of people that are representing your life and it's great, but we're not, there's no cabal.

I'm still looking for the cabal. I haven't found it. 

Zibby: You mentioned also why Jews have typically held these positions, right? You take it all the way back. What, what positions were discriminated? What opportunities were available? And why have we seem to have gone into a certain industry? 

Tishby: Yes. I'm reading now a book called an empire of their own, which I actually oddly enough, I'm reading it after we finished the book, but I gave that example of that story because I wanted to get a little bit more in the weeds and it's about how the Jews created Hollywood, literally created Hollywood because nobody wanted to touch that vaudevillian, low class, new kind of industry that was emerging and the Jews that were not allowed to do a lot of other things and were entrepreneurial were like, all right, well, we'll take that.

That's fine. The same with money lending, which we talked about extensively in the book. I'm like, there's a reason why the Jews are in these fields and it usually goes back to some sort of a discrimination that forced them into it. 

Zibby: Yes. Amazing. 

Tishby: Emmanuel. I love that you draw. 

Zibby: I love it. I love it. I love this.

Like the kids keep coming over. I'm like, I have to focus. I have to learn. You know, I'm like cramming for a test. I have to read every word but the thing that I loved in particular is at the end, um, well, first of all, I love how you said everybody should be invited for Shabbat. I mean, that's great and I was like, oh boy, I got to pull out all the play sets, you know, now everyone's going to come over.

Noah, you said, you know, Emmanuel, I've got something I want to get off my chest. I, along with many of the Jewish people I've spoken to, feel like the black community has slowly turned their backs on the Jewish community. It's one of the main reasons I wanted to do this book with you, to rebuild the bridge between us.

We Jews have been vocal allies for black people, and our ties run deep, and then you go on to say we didn't feel the love in return. What's going on? So, speak to this for a minute, and then we'll wrap up. Your thoughts on that. 

Emmanuel: Yeah. One that's very complex, very nuanced, very difficult to speak to. I will say generalizing, um, It's 

Zibby: supposed to be difficult.

Emmanuel: I would say like generalizing. I feel as though historically, Historically, black people feel as though they've stood by several different communities and there hasn't been much of a return on that investment. Like we stood by this community, we stood by that oppressed community, we stood by this oppressed community, but where was the return on that investment?

If you go back to the early 1900s, during the women's suffrage movements, white women, black women, they were all standing together. Then white women got the green light, and then black women were just kind of standing there by themselves, alone, oppressed, marginalized, still. If you look nowadays, um, it's a piece of literature by James Baldwin.

He wrote it in 1968 for the New York Times. And it's titled, Negroes are Anti Semitic Because They're Anti White. And I think the dilemma currently, if I'm being very blunt and very honest with you all, is that in our current society, which is extremely volatile, the white man is perceived as the oppressor by the black person.

Again, I am generalizing to those that are listening and watching. So if I'm going to categorize the Jewish person as white and the white person is the oppressor, then the Jewish person by the transitive property too must be the oppressor. And I think that is a part of the dilemma, but I love how James Baldwin, he ended the piece and he said the crisis that exists in the hearts and minds of Black people everywhere is not caused by the Star of David, but by the old rugged Roman cross on whom Christendom's most prized Jew was murdered and not by Jews.

Zibby: Oh, wow.

Emmanuel: I mean, when I read that, I said, goodness. 

Zibby: Wow. 

Emmanuel: Because that's literally how he ended the piece and it, it was like the tension going on in society. It wasn't caused by the Star of David, like it wasn't caused by, by Jewish people. And that to give a very complex question, a nuanced and shortened answer, I would say that's it.

Tishby: Yeah. That's, that's beautiful. I think it's one of the main reasons that we wanted to do this piece. book because there is such a schism between the Jewish and the black community. And I know this is heartbreaking for the Jewish community. We do feel like we've stood by all these marginalized communities and now that we are attacked physically, emotionally, in every level of society, we feel alone, but not just by the black community, but by the LGBTQ plus community.

Like where is the, where are the women's organizations after the massive, you know, Rapes that were happening on October seven. Like we feel very, very much alone But the thing is that the the bond between the Black and the Jewish Community in America is unparalleled. And the things that we have achieved together in terms of social justice in terms of human rights is unmatched.

It literally has created America to be as it is because of this joint relationship that we had. And it's been very important for Emmanuel and I to reimagine that relationship and do something to mend it because neither of us was able to kind of like sit by and watch it keep getting stronger. Because the thing is this, right?

If two marginalized communities are fighting, Between each other who wins. 

Emmanuel: Yeah. Yeah. 

Zibby: So you talked about Judaism being an ethno religion. Yeah, and there's a whole passage about How Jews essentially are white passing. Yeah, and another one where you talked about a preschool recess yard and how Even though you were all in there together, the teachers picked out the white passing Jewish people and said, Oh no, you guys are okay, but you guys are not okay out here.

It's not necessarily the fault of the people picked by the teacher, but yet we were picked and stayed inside, so to speak. 

Tishby: Because, yeah, because the rules of the game have changed. They changed to, to Emmanuel, um, what you were saying before, the oppressor and the oppressed, and the melanin in the skin. And as soon as you judge people by that, The Jewish community doesn't fit.

So we were suddenly put in like the oppressor bracket when we're like, we've been, uh, I mean, not that it's the marginalized, uh, you know, Olympics, right. But we've been oppressed up until 20 seconds ago. Like it was no Jews, no blacks allowed to places literally up until like a moment ago. So we were very confused by that.

And I didn't want to let that happen. Sit there. Like I think that we're so much more powerful when we work together. 

Emmanuel: It's very complex I thought of this quote while Noah was speaking and it simply says if you Perceive your present through the lens of your past. It's amazing how much pain you can live in and I think your vision can be skewed when you perceive your present through the lens of your past because I think our vision is Skewed here now Noah brings up phenomenal points, and this was such of the tension in the book.

And I think this may have been the most beautiful part. One of the three most beautiful parts, at least, is Noah realizing the dichotomy between, like, hey, we're not white. Quite literally, we were executed for not being white enough. And now, wait, y'all are calling us white. 

Tishby: So white. The most white. It doesn't make sense.

The, the, the representation of colonialism and white oppression on, on Earth. 

Emmanuel: But from the Black. From my perspective as a Black man, and obviously several Black people I, I, I, I live in community with, it's, but Jewish people get the privilege of being perceived as white. And when you talk about that privilege, all privilege is a special access granted into something or immunity from something.

And so while the Jewish person may not look at themselves as white, the Black person is saying, well, you get the privilege of being perceived as white, so you're white. You can't try, and I challenge Noah in the book, and this is one of the beautiful areas of tension, is where I say I feel as though you want the luxury of being perceived as white without the pain that comes with being viewed as the oppressor, and you can't have it both ways.

And then she had another eloquent response, but that's the book. It's the tension. It's real. How people really feel. And oftentimes that's how I really feel. 

Tishby: Yeah. And to me, it was beautiful to have that conversation because right now in America, being Jewish is don't ask, don't tell if you can hide your Jewish identity, if you can align yourself with like, no, no, no, I hate Netanyahu.

And it's. terrible and free Palestine. If you do that, then you're fine. Then you're accepted as a Jew. But anything short of that, you're not accepted as a Jew, as a, you're not accepted, right, as a, as a human being. But to Emmanuel's point, at least you have the privilege of being able to hide when a black person can't hide.

And that's the kind of conversation I'm like, right, that's true. Doesn't make it okay. But it's, uh, it's, uh, It's true. It's again, it's very, it's very complex because once that white privilege was granted, once the melanin in the skin became kind of like how you judge everything, the Jews kind of fell between the cracks and are oddly enough, history repeats itself because again, there's anti Semitism, which you look around in society and there's something going wrong and people looking around and there are problems.

It's the Jews. So whenever it happened, and that was again a beautiful conversation that we had, because when you go through history of anti semitism, and you see it over and over and over and over again, when you see it today through that prism, you understand that it's actually old hate. Rehashed.

Zibby: Yeah. We just had, there was just like a slight pause where it said, Yeah. Like, skating under. 

Tishby: The thing is, I'm going to say something that's really interesting or that can be confronting to people, right? 

Zibby: I was like, what if it's not interesting? 

Tishby: No, it's not. I was actually thinking that myself as that came out of my mouth.

I'm like, let me judge my own thing. I'll be around. I'll be in charge of that. I'm going to be so interesting. I'm going to say something that might be controversial to people. All right. What's happening on college campuses right now. All right. Bye. So, first of all, it's not, uh, peaceful, it's violent, uh, it's not, uh, grassroots, it's well organized and coordinated, but mostly it's not true, meaning the kids that are protesting, that are actual students, right, which a lot of them are actually not, but the ones that are students, they have been brainwashed by TikTok to believe that Zionism necessitates the genocide of Palestinians, okay?

And they will, they'll drop out of college because of that. They'll go to the mat. They're, like, convinced that Zionism is genocide, that Israel's committing a genocide, slaughtering Palestinian people just for fun, right? In the same manner that 500 years ago, people were convinced that the Jews are using blood of Christian children to make their matzahs.

In the same twisted and aggressive way, it's the same thing. That's a blood liable, and that's a blood liable. It's, it's going to be very challenging to try and deprogram an entire generation, because what are you going to say? Israel's not committing a genocide? No, seriously, there's no genocide. Like, really, there are a lot of, it's a war.

It's a terrible war that Israel didn't want and didn't start, and now is in, it's terrible. A lot of people are dying that shouldn't be dying, and it's not a genocide. It's very challenging, and when you look at it through that prism, of generations of blood libel about the Jews. You're understanding it's a very, very interesting moment that we're, that we're in right now and quite dangerous, honestly.

Zibby: Yeah. If you just look at one headline of one story, you get a very different picture than understanding. Totally. Yeah, I've even noticed in my own TikTok feed, I don't know why, like I posted some silly thing about how no one came to a book signing or something, but I was like feeling sorry for myself.

And next thing you know, I'm scrolling around and it's like all these rallies and everything. I was like, I don't want to see this, but like, you targeted me wrong, but is this where you're showing everybody else? Anyway, it's all out of our control. 

Tishby: It's all out of control. And this is, this is, I mean, this is a whole other conversation about TikTok and the young generation.

Zibby: I won't even go there. I won't even go there. 

Tishby: Yeah. 

Yeah. Go try and convince them that it's not true. 

Zibby: Well, one thing that At the end of reading the book, when I, like, put the book down, I had tears in my eyes because I felt like there was so much hope all of a sudden, it has felt, like, really dire and, like, there's no way out.

And to have Emmanuel go down in writing, in this book, take on all the tough questions and say, you know what, we're gonna huddle, we're gonna do this together, we're all gonna fight hate, we're all in this. Like, it, it It was just, it was like you reached out and gave an entire people a huge hug, right? It's amazing.

And I know you say you did this from a place of pain yourself, that you, you come to this as someone who's able to sort of sense other people's pain and all of that. Just tell me about that and like, why you? Why have all these conversations. 

Emmanuel: Man, um, there's a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote. Sorry, I speak in a lot of quotes, but...

Tishby: I just said that my answer is going to be interesting.

Emmanuel: There's a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote. And he said, if you have the ability to do something and it's for the greater good of society, and you can do it better than those around you, you'd be morally irresponsible not to do it. And I don't have uncomfortable conversations just because I'm yearning to do it.

I don't like wake up and say, yes, Noah, let's talk about Zionism. But I wake up and I look, I look around and I'm like, wait a second. Like there's people that are hurting. It's not just Jewish people. It's not just Palestinian people. It's not just black people. It's not just women. It's not just LGBTQ plus there's people that are hurting.

I'm like, but I have this ability to like, have these conversations. I have a platform, so I have to do it. And then the question now becomes what's the most efficient and effective way to do it. And I personally believe like, Peace is the best way to approach a conversation. I believe there are three primary components, grace, truth, and love.

And I think if you only speak with grace without truth, it might be kind, but it's superfluous nothings. If you only speak with truth without grace, it's honest, but it's too sharp to be received. But finally, nobody cares what you know until they know that you care so they need to know that you have a love for him.

So as long as I approach Nora with grace and she approaches me with truth, and we both approach each other with love, a phenomenal, uplifting conversation can occur, regardless of whether we agree or disagree because as you know, if you read the book, we don't agree on everything, but there's grace there.

There's truth there. There's love there. And that's why this book is just so powerful. 

Tishby: It is amazing. And it's, and it's, yeah, it's true. I feel honored to have been working on this book with you. 

Zibby: But there was one moment, perhaps other moments that got very ify, there was a There was one Almost, almost the book didn't The book almost didn't happen.

Do you want to go there? You want to... 

Emmanuel: We can go there. This is a safe space. 

Tishby: Without giving it too much, because it's like, you know... 

Zibby: We don't have to go there. 

Tishby: We don't want to We don't want to give it out. 

Zibby: I think even the best relationships, everybody gets into fights occasionally. 

Tishby: They do. In fact, the best relationships, you get into fights and you go on the other side.

Anybody that has like a partnership or a A sibling. A parent or a child or anything. 

Emmanuel: No, chapter 16 of the book. It's called how the book almost didn't have chapter one of the book is how this book happened. We tell the whole world how Noah and I came to partnership, but chapter 16, we discuss how the book fell apart.

Um, Noah and I had a sharp disagreement. The operative word there's sharp. I mean, it was, it was a vehement disagreement and to a large degree, we still disagree on what occurred after October 7th. We just, we didn't talk for three weeks and thankfully the book came back to be, I didn't, I didn't think it would.

I didn't think it would at all. 

Tishby: Yeah, I didn't I didn't, I thought it was over. I'm like, F that, I'm out. 

Emmanuel: Um, but we, It's not happening. Yeah, we, we came back together and the most beautiful part of the book is chapter 16. Because it proved that one, the book is real, but more importantly than a book being real, it proved the crux of humanity.

Two people can disagree, can disagree on a major issue, but disagreement won't prevail as long as love and relationship is there. And I didn't want, and I don't believe Noah wanted a book that was just, Oh, it was nice, but it was sweet. No, no, no, no, no, no. We disagreed. And it is okay if you're listening to disagree with your girlfriend, with your guy friend, with your sibling, with your daughter, with your mother, with your grandma, with your aunt, it's okay to disagree.

Just make sure after you walk away, you walk back for the greater good of those around you. 

Zibby: Yeah. 

Emmanuel: Yeah. 

Zibby: So there was one line that sticks with me and that was particularly chilling, which is when you were talking about the Holocaust and Holocaust deniers and all of that. You said, no, I do think there could be another Holocaust and Noah said, Oh, there absolutely can be another Holocaust.

You still feel. like that. 

Tishby: You still do. Okay. I do.

Emmanuel: But it would look different. 

Tishby: It would look different. Yeah, it would look different. What I have been saying for a long time before October 7th and when I still stand is that we will most likely in today's world, they're not going to see the gas chambers again.

Probably never say never humanity can always surprise. Yeah. Uh, but we're probably not going to see gas chambers again, but what we can see is what we saw in October 7th. And that is the attempt to take down the Jewish state with any means necessary, as they chant on college campuses today. And when October 7th happened, it wasn't a surprise for those of us who were following.

And the sad part about this, and this is why I wrote this in the book, this is why I answered that way to Emanuel, is that I know that had October 7th been you know, had Hamas been able to massacre 4 million Jews, 6 million Jews in Israel that day? the reaction would have been the same. So the people that are brainwashed to think that Israel is the source of all evil, and by extension the Jews are the source of all evil, that literally think that Israel is the worst thing in the Middle East when there's Iran and jihadism all over the place there, they're calling for intifada.

They're calling to globalize the intifada. They're calling, they're saying we are all Hamas. They're actually calling for more as we speak today. So it definitely can happen again. People are so slightly comfortable with massacre of Jewish people, sad to say that. 

Zibby: Well, let's let's leave people with something a little happier.

Yes You do have so many Steps and what we can do and what everyone can do from the little to the big to offering an invitation to the table explaining a custom Having a conversation Just giving people the space that they need on every side of everything. Yeah, what else what can people do and What do you think is the best thing that could come out of this book?

Emmanuel: I love that question. Um, I think the best thing that could come out of this book is a blueprint of how to have this conversation. What can people do is do. What I mean by that is, if your life doesn't look diverse enough, be intentional about making it diverse. Noah and I, you know, aren't the same gender.

We don't have the same religion. We don't have, we didn't grow up in the same country. We were completely different people, but we were willing to sit down with somebody who did not look like us for the greater good of understanding each other. I don't think you can empathize with somebody if you're not educated on what breaks their heart.

And so for everyone listening, it's fun to simply listen to a good conversation and listen to a phenomenal podcast. But if you actually want to make change in the world, start with your home. Cause your home will impact your neighborhood and your neighborhood, your city and your city, your state and your state, your nation, and your nation, ultimately the world.

But it starts with your home. So what in the world does your home look like? And your home isn't necessarily your house. It could be your friend circle. So what can you do? Educate yourself by buying a book like this, reading a book like this, and then be intentional about diversifying your life and your mindset.

Tishby: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And do it with love. Do it with love. And if there is love and authenticity and good intentionality present, then you can't, there's no getting offended. And there's no need for a trigger warning. And there's no, everybody is so sensitive to each other's feelings right now. And also people don't want to offend anybody.

They don't want to get cancelled. And so nobody's talking. Yeah. Like they're talking at each other, above each other, keeping in their own kind of silos on social media, only huddling with those that they think exactly the same, but nobody's reaching out. 

Emmanuel: Yeah. 

Tishby: So, when we do that, you can't hate those you know.

You can't, you can't. 

Zibby: I think it would be hard to harbor hate after reading the book. I think after you process it all and understand it would be almost impossible. 

Tishby: That's the intention. 

Emmanuel: And I would also say, and I think you do a phenomenal job with this and this conversation is like catch people. Like if somebody's falling, catch them, don't push them down.

For example, I was hesitant to even write. in the book about Jewish people being in power. Because if I were to tweet that right now, granted, I think I earned enough good favor within the community that people would understand, but if I were to tweet like, you know what I mean? But like, if I were to do that right now, the backlash would be immense.

But because of the space that Noah had curated with me, I could say that and Noah could push back on my thought and then I could push back on her thought and that would allow me to grow and hopefully allow her to grow in my perspective. And so you have to catch people. Like, when I brought that up, Noah caught me, and then we went back and forth, so hold people in these spaces.

Don't try to have some sort of gotcha moment, but hold individuals in the spaces while you educate them. 

Tishby: Oh my god, I love that. That is so beautiful. 

Zibby: I feel like you guys need to moderate groups. Like, I feel like you need to like put little groups places so that we should know people don't have this conversational skills necessarily that you do, but they might have the desire to have the conversations and not.

have the tools at their disposal. Maybe there's some way to scale it. 

Tishby: Let's go down to Colombia, see what happens. 

Zibby: No, not today.

Tishby: Let's just, let's just go see. 

Zibby: Maybe not those exact people. Well, I just want to say thank you to both of you for putting yourselves on the line, your reputations, your voices, your hearts and souls to help so many people to educate so many people.

I think everybody needs to read this book. I could not be more excited about it. My book club's going to read it. Everyone's going to read it. I want, it's like the most important thing out today. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Tishby: Thank you. 

Emmanuel: Thank you so much.


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