On All Accounts, Ye is a Nay

American Rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, posted antisemetic remarks on social media platforms on Oct. 7. The messages included content claiming that he would go “death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE”. Later, on Dec. 1, while in an interview with radio show-host Alex Jones, West said, “I like Hitler,” in addition to, “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.”

The same day as his antisemitic tweets, West went on to insinuate that fellow rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs is controlled by the Jewish community. West uploaded a screenshot of texts between the musicians to Instagram in which he told Combs, “Ima use you as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me.” 

West has a history of discriminating against minority communities. Not long before his posts on Oct. 7, West was photographed at his brand’s fashion show wearing a shirt that read “White Lives Matter.” This phrase has been used by white supremacist groups and others to counter the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Amidst controversy around West’s actions, he made claims regarding the status of his business relationships. While speaking about his brand, Yeezy, on the Drink Champs Podcast, West said that “I can say antisemitic s***, and Adidas can’t drop me.” Yeezy has been under the control of sportswear maker Adidas since 2013. 

Despite his confidence, West’s words have begun to negatively impact his reputation. Taking into consideration West’s recent tweets and Instagram posts, Adidas put out a statement on Oct. 25 that his antisemetic hate speech violated their company values, resulting in the termination of their relationship with West. 

West’s public antisemetic remarks encouraged others to be more outspoken about their antisemetic beliefs. On Oct. 22, banners in support of West’s comments were unfurled on overpasses on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. The message stated, “Honk if you know… Kanye is right about the Jews.” Another poster promoted the Goyim Defense League, an online platform that spreads antisemetic conspiracy theories. The people who hung the sign were also reportedly seen raising their arms in a Nazi salute as people drove by, according to NBC News.

Secretary of the Jewish Student Union Josh Lande, a junior, said that he was driving back from the South Bay when he saw these signs. 

Lande said, “I was on the 405 driving North,… and it was just a bunch of white guys standing there with signs that said ‘Kanye West is right.’” 

Lande added that it was shocking and scary to “hear somebody with that much power say something like that.”

Advanced Placement Psychology teacher David Pickard IV said that West must be held accountable for his actions. “It’s really unfortunate that [West] has used the microphone that he has in a negative way because that has significant impacts on people’s individual lives.” 

He added that these ideas are especially dangerous “in a time when we are trying to promote acceptance and celebrate differences.”

Many Jewish students at Pali said that they believe that West’s statements are highlighting the recent spike in antisemitism that they have experienced. 

President of the Students Supporting Israel club Shaya Keyvanfar, a senior, described a time when she became the victim of prejudice due to her position in the club, saying, “Someone took the merch from our club that had Jewish symbols and ‘I love Israel’ on it, took a video of themselves stomping on it… and posted it on Instagram.”

“A lot of intolerance that [Jews] face at Pali stems from a lack of education and people going with herd mentality, not doing their own research,” she added.

Keyvanfar said that she became a victim to this mindset when the Jewish Student Union attempted to join Pali’s parallel of the United Nations for student union groups, the Justice League. She added that the Jewish Student Union was told that they could not partake in the council because Jews were not a victim of systematic oppression. After speaking with the head of the Justice League, Keyvanfar said that she learned that this view stemmed from a lack of knowledge about the history of antisemitism. 

“We’re the next generation of leaders, and if you are teaching people to exclude and be apart from each other, how is that going to affect us in our future?” she said.

Keyvanfar said that this experience showed her that schools have the responsibility to do a better job at educating their students and faculty on the oppression that the Jewish community has faced and continues to face. 

“It is most important that we call out hate against any kind of people, no matter what it is, and I think that starts with learning in schools about [Jewish] history so we can make reforms from there,” Keyvanfar said.

In light of West’s antisemitic remarks, Keyvanfar comes back to this core value: “We all are Americans. We’re all trying to better our country… Singling out a group of people and spewing hate against them is the opposite of what we should be trying to do.”