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Why Kanye’s anti-Semitism matters

Author writes how Kanye’s anti-Semitic rants were not limited to threatening violence but he also invoked a variety of demeaning anti-Semitic tropes and stereotypes

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

One doesn’t just wake up and make a string of anti-Semitic remarks without some deep-seated hatred of Jewish people. 

The latest example comes from none other than the famous entertainer/designer Kanye West, Ye. His mental illness is not an excuse. Kanye’s hateful rants demonstrate a great paradox of anti-Semites throughout history: using a platform of “fame” to make vile statements about Jews, while at the same time, disproving the anti-Semitic screed that “Jews control Hollywood” where he’s famous. Surely if that were the case, he’d never have been able to make such statements there to begin with. 

But that’s not the only contradiction in Kanye’s anti-Semitism. 

One can be forgiven for making an ignorant, hurtful mistake. Yet, unfortunately, when called out about it, Kanye became more offensive rather than being humble, contrite or even apologetic. That’s as bad as his offensive series of statements, because he had the opportunity to do right but he chose to double-down on the oldest hatred in the world. 

One of Kanye’s most egregious statements, with the potential to incite assaults against Jews, was his vow to “go death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE” – evoking “DEFCON,” a term referring to a high state of alert in the U.S. military. I don’t necessarily believe that he’s advocating for widespread violence against Jews, another Holocaust or anything of the sort. But maybe he is. We don’t know because he didn’t clarify or apologize. And he’s simply too ignorant and arrogant to care.

His followers saw no problem with hanging banners over a major L.A. highway, supporting Kanye’s anti-Semitic remarks, punctuated with a Nazi “Heil Hitler” salute. 

Kanye’s anti-Semitic rants were not limited to threatening violence. He also invoked a variety of demeaning anti-Semitic tropes and stereotypes. 

Speaking on Tucker Carlson’s show, somehow a discussion about the Abraham Accords came up, the 2020 agreements between Israel and four Arab countries brokered by the Trump administration. Kanye couldn’t resist the opportunity to headline his anti-Semitism. He said that he “thought” the agreement was motivated by (Trump’s Jewish son-in-law) Jared Kushner’s greed: “I just think it was to make money,” he said.

After Kanye’s “Death con 3” comment was deleted by Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram), Kanye invoked the anti-Semitic trope of Jews controlling the media, flipping to Twitter to call out Facebook’s Jewish founder Mark Zuckerberg, saying, “Who do you think created cancel culture?” I’m sure that Kanye was not referring to the Jamaican bobsled team. 

Before Twitter deleted Kanye’s anti-Semitic tweets, he was able to get off a volley of offensive statements, underscoring the idea of Jewish control of the media. 

“You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda,” he wrote. In case anyone doubted what Kanye meant, a few days later, he used another platform to rant: “Jewish people have owned the Black voice. Whether it’s through us wearing the Ralph Lauren shirt, or it’s all of us being signed to a record label, or having a Jewish manager, or being signed to a Jewish basketball team, or doing a movie on a Jewish platform like Disney.”

“You get used to paparazzi taking a picture of you, and you don’t get money off it. You just get used to being screwed by the Jewish media. The Jewish media blocked me out,” he wrote. 

If all this weren’t bad enough, Kanye took a low road, down a path of nonsensical and offensive historical revisionism. 

He wrote, “The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti-Semitic because black people are actually Jew also.” Caught in his crosshairs are not only Jews as a whole, undermining them with an absurd derivative of replacement theology, but also the black Jews who he mocks and delegitimizes. 

He obviously sees no contradiction between blaming the Jews for controlling the media, canceling him and owning the Black voice, and – in another “thought” – saying that “the Jews aren’t really Jews,” and “it’s Blacks that are Jews.” For anti-Semites like Kanye, actual history and facts don’t matter. 

In a head-spinning comment that initially seemed unrelated, Kanye criticized Planned Parenthood as having been created “to control the Jew population.” While Planned Parenthood has roots in eugenics promoting abortion among African Americans, Kanye used this to create confusion and more anti-Semitic hatred. 

While explaining what he meant, he “clarified” by saying this: “When I say ‘Jew,’ I mean the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, who the people known as the race Black really are.” So, if all Black people are “the real Jews,” how can the Jews be controlling the media and silencing him? If he were really Jewish, he might know that Judah is one of the TEN lost tribes. But let’s not let facts get in the way of Kanye’s Jew-hatred. 

Part of the danger of Kanye’s comments is that he has more Twitter followers than there are actual Jews in the world, at a ratio of about 2:1. The negative influence of his anti-Semitic ignorance is real and borderlines shouting “Jews control the media” in a crowded theater of ignorant people. It can certainly be used to incite violence. 

It’s true that Black slaves in America derived inspiration from the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt, believing that the God who delivered the Jews from the original slavery would deliver them. It’s even true that a fringe group of former slaves began a movement adopting themselves as Jews, as a badge of honor.  

To me, as a Jew, that’s inspiring. God has used the Jewish people throughout history to show His faithfulness. But being inspired by God’s faithfulness doesn't make one a Jew. Nor does being inspired by Kanye, make one Black. 

As much as facts don’t matter, I suspect that science doesn’t matter either. But let’s be generous to Kanye. Who would like to join me in getting him a DNA test for Christmas to find out if he’s really a Jew? Then he can blame the man in the mirror for controlling the media and silencing himself. 

Because of his global following, Kanye’s anti-Semitic rants have the ability to spill over and adversely impact Black-Jewish relations. One positive outcome has been a statement by the Black Jewish Entertainment Alliance, “Ye’s [Kanye’s] recent statements about the Jewish community are hurtful, offensive and wrong. They perpetuate stereotypes that have been the basis for discrimination and violence against Jews for thousands of years. Words like this tear at the fabric of the black-Jewish relationship.” 

Adidas and others have severed their relationship with Kanye, realizing that he’s crossed a line and no longer represents the image they want to associate their brand with: You can visit the "Inspiration from Zion" podcast for a detailed conversation about this.

As much as I appreciate various social media sites taking down Kanye’s hateful and even dangerous posts, and companies having the moral backbone to disassociate from a person who is so rabidly anti-Semitic, there’s a tremendous paradox, that so many others – from Iranian Islamic jihadists to Palestinian Arab terrorists – are allowed freedom to use social media not just to incite hate but to organize their hate into actual deadly violence.  

If the social media platforms are going to “go death con 3” on Kanye’s anti-Semitism, maybe they should also have a peek at what’s being posted and tweeted in Persian and Arabic. 

ALL ISRAEL NEWS is committed to fair and balanced coverage and analysis, and honored to publish a wide-range of opinions. That said, views expressed by guest columnists may not necessarily reflect the views of our staff.

Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He is host of the popular Inspiration from Zion podcast. He can be reached at [email protected].

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