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Adidas ends partnership with Kanye West over anti-Semitic remarks

"Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company said; Forbes estimates it would lose $645 million over the decision

Kanye West holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid in North Charleston, South Carolina, July 19, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Randall Hill/File Photo)

The German sportswear company Adidas announced on Tuesday the termination of its partnership with American rapper Kanye West after a series of anti-Semitic comments West made on social media and in interviews. 

The rapper and fashion icon, who goes by “Ye,” told his 31.4 million Twitter followers on Oct. 9 that he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” He later participated in an online interview, in which he complained about how the “Jewish people” control media and entertainment outlets.   

“Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company said in a statement. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

While West bragged in an interview last week that “I can literally say anti-Semitic s—, and they cannot drop me,” Adidas had faced mounting pressure to denounce West’s remarks and cut ties with his fashion brand, Yeezy. 

Celebrities, organizations and social media followers urged the company to drop him, especially after an anti-Semitic group hung a banner on a Los Angeles highway over the weekend, stating that “Kanye is right about the Jews.”

Thor star Kat Dennings on Sunday called out the company on social media: “The world is watching, @Adidas,” while Food Network host Valerie Bertinelli wrote: “Hey @adidas, you up?”

Comedian and actor Josh Gad offered his own view: “This is not a good person. This is a person who’s dangerous rhetoric continues to go unchecked. Hey @adidas, is this right? Can he single out a single faith and group of people with hatred and vitriol and it doesn’t matter? Asking for a friend.”

The German company served as Yeezy’s manufacturer and distributor for nearly a decade, a collaboration which reportedly brought in $2 billion a year, 10% of Yeezy’s annual revenue.

Adidas first announced that it was placing its sneaker deal with West “under review,” before, eventually, completely severing ties, stopping production of all Yeezy products and stopping payments to Ye and his companies.

“This is expected to have a short-term negative impact of up to €250 million [$246 million] on the company’s net income in 2022 given the high seasonality of the fourth quarter,” Adidas said in its statement. 

Forbes estimated that the move puts Adidas’ total losses at $645 million. Adidas will be joining other brands that have decided to stop working with West. Following his suspension from both Instagram and Twitter, the Balenciaga fashion house announced on Friday that it “has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist.” 

West also ended his partnership with Gap last month after the brand said the two were “not aligned” in how they work together, The Wall Street Journal reported. In addition, the talent agency CAA dropped Ye as a client, according to the Washington Post. Fashion magazine Vogue and its editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, said they have no plans to continue working with him either.

The Anti-Defamation League launched an online campaign with the hashtag #RunAwayfromHate to pressure Adidas further. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt welcomed Adidas’ ultimate decision, calling it “a very positive outcome.”

“It illustrates that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and creates consequences. Without a doubt, Adidas has done the right thing by cutting ties with Ye after his vicious anti-Semitic rants,” he stated. 

West’s latest controversial remarks – and mixed messages – found the spotlight in recent interviews with Piers Morgan for his podcast “Uncensored” and with Chris Cuomo on “NewsNation.” 

While West told Cuomo that the “Jewish underground media mafia” was out to get him, he told Morgan that he wants to “hug every Jewish person” and feels “envious” about Jewish culture. 

In his interview with Cuomo, West pushed back on the anti-Semitic claim, saying “I don’t believe in that term … I classify as Jew also, so I actually can’t be an antisemite.”

Then with Morgan, West seemed to walk back some of his remarks. “I feel like I caused hurt and confusion and I am sorry for the families of the people who had nothing to do with the trauma that I had been through,” he said. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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