An 86-year-old Holocaust survivor called out Joe Rogan after his remarks about vaccine mandates.
Gidon Lev accused Rogan of promoting antisemitism by linking vaccine mandates and Nazi Germany.
Lev and his partner, Julie Gray, have a TikTok page with over 76,000 followers and 1 million likes.
An 86-year-old Holocaust survivor went viral on TikTok calling on Joe Rogan to apologize after he appeared to compare COVID-19 vaccine mandates with Nazi Germany.
In two separate TikTok videos, which have amassed over 650,000 views and 100,000 likes in total, Gidon Lev accused Rogan of promoting "hate, antisemitism, and possibly even more violence."
Lev was responding to a video Rogan posted on Instagram last Tuesday, in which he suggested that "American freedom" would slip away if vaccine mandates were enforced. The video, which has racked up almost 6 million views, featured a spoken-word narration from Rogan as he interspersed clips related to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and dictatorships, including images of Adolf Hitler's Nazi salute and a map of Nazi Germany during World War II.
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"As soon as you see something, anything, that comes along and inhibits your freedom, you should be very cautious," Rogan said as dramatic instrumental music played in the background.
Rogan's video follows a trend of those who oppose vaccination and mask mandates comparing these systems to Nazism, during which millions were killed by Hitler's Nazi regime for being Jewish, Polish, Soviet, and members of other groups.
"Mr. Joe Rogan... I am an 86-year-old survivor of the Holocaust and I saw your video on American freedom and the COVID vaccine," Levy said at the start of his first TikTok. "It included images of the Holocaust and of Adolf Hitler, the monster who murdered my father, 26 members of my family, and 6 million Jews and others."
"You are absolutely not promoting freedom," he continued in the second TikTok. "Remove the video immediately… I am shocked by your lack of sensitivity."
Lev runs the TikTok account @thetrueadventures, which has over 76,000 followers and 1 million likes, with his partner Julie Gray. The duo's page features everything from educational videos about the Holocaust and stories about Lev's life as a Holocaust survivor to comedic clips about how Lev is a "TikTok grandpa."
In an interview with Haaretz in September, Lev called vaccination mandates the "exact opposite" of Hitler's regime.
"Keeping people healthy and saving them from suffering is the exact opposite of what the Germans did," he told Haaretz in a September interview. "I want to explain to these people that forcing us to wear a star wasn't for the purpose of identifying us; it was to dehumanize us. Doing something to try to save people's lives with a vaccine is completely different."
Lev was born in 1935 in the Czech Republic and was transported with his family to a concentration camp when he was 6, Gray wrote in a 2020 article for The New York Post. Lev and his mother were the only two members of their family who survived the Holocaust, Gray wrote, after they were liberated from a concentration camp in Terezin.
@thetrueadventures When you get asked during your #TIKTOKLIVE to be someone’s #TikTok Grandpa ❤️😎❤️ #foryourpage #TikTokGrandpaGidon #holocaustsurvivor #family #happy ♬ The Next Episode - Dr. Dre
Gray self-published a biography of Lev's life, "The True Adventures of Gidon Lev: Rascal Holocaust Survivor Optimist," in 2020, which was on Kirkus Reviews' 2020 list of Best Indie Biographies and Memoirs.
Gray told Insider in an email that she and Lev "welcome the opportunity to speak with Joe Rogan about the appropriation and trivialization of Jewish suffering in the Holocaust and how that can possibly compare with a public health mandate."
"We can see no logical, authentic, or good faith reason to compare the near-total annihilation of the Jewish people to the debate of personal and civic responsibility and science," the statement, sent by Gray from an email account also associated with Lev's website, continued. "In fact, we find the comparison to be grotesque."
Rogan, whose show "The Joe Rogan Experience" has been Spotify's most popular podcast since it started airing exclusively on the streaming platform last year, has frequently been the subject of controversy. In September, he touted the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as a fix for COVID-19 despite the FDA calling it "dangerous" in large doses and urging people not to use it to treat the disease. He previously spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Rogan and Spotify did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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