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Robert Kraft warns of rising antisemitism in CNN interview: ‘Hate leads to violence’

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is interviewed by NFL sportscaster Rich Eisen prior to taking on the Indianapolis Colts in an NFL football game at Deutsche Bank Park Stadium in Frankfurt on Nov. 12.Doug Benc/Associated Press

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft warned Monday that rising antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war could lead to more violence against Jews and growing prejudice against other minority groups.

In a Christmas morning interview with CNN, Kraft spoke of his concerns and his work with the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, an organization he founded four years ago and supported earlier this month by matching a $100 million donation from the Rales Foundation.

“If we don’t do a good job controlling it, I think hate leads to violence,” Kraft said in the CNN interview, according to video from WBZ-TV. “And what we’re seeing going on in this country now is really scary to me, and it’s something we want to work very hard to try to prevent.”


The foundation reported in November that hate crimes against Jews and Muslims skyrocketed locally and nationally in the first month of the Israel-Hamas war, according to the FBI and two organizations that track hate crimes nationally.

Kraft founded the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism in 2019 after he received the Genesis Prize, a $1 million award given annually to Jewish people who have attained international renown in their professional fields.

As he announced his $100 million matching gift to the organization in early December, Kraft called fighting hate “the most meaningful and fulfilling action of my life.” In March, the foundation launched the Blue Square and Stand Up to Jewish Hate campaigns on social media, television, and billboards with $25 million provided by Kraft.

The $200 million from Kraft and the Rales Foundation will be used to expand communication efforts on social media to reach “younger audiences online, raising awareness, educating, and combating the hatred and misinformation that is rampant,” Kraft’s office said in early December.


“Fifty percent of what’s being spread is lies, and not accurate, and young people unfortunately are believing,” Kraft said on CNN.

On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and abducting some 240 hostages. In response, Israeli forces launched an assault on Gaza that has killed more than 20,600 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, whose count doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants.

In the CNN interview, Kraft spoke of his experiences with antisemitism in his own career.

“I had people who didn’t want to do business with me; they thought I had horns on my head,” he said. “They’d never met someone from my background. It just allows you to work harder.”

He warned, though, that hatred against one group can spread to affect other vulnerable communities.

“Most people are good, but when you start seeing hate, and it starts with Jewish hate, there’ll be hate against all minorities,” he said. “You’re next.”

Material from previous Globe stories and the Associated Press was used in this report.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him @jeremycfox.