December 2, 2022
Over the last month, rapper Kanye West, now also known as Ye, has posted antisemitic tropes on his social media accounts, shared antisemitic conspiracy theories with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and later, on social media, threatened violence against Jews.
Since launching a presidential bid during the week of Thanksgiving, he has gone on a media tour, going after Jewish people on podcasts and traveling with an entourage of known antisemites. In his latest appearance on the InfoWars talk show hosted by provocateur Alex Jones, West, alongside white supremacist Nick Fuentes, said people should “stop dissing the Nazis” and exalted Adolf Hitler.
Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist who has been ordered to pay parents more than a billion dollars for insisting the massacre of their children in one of America’s deadliest school shootings was a “hoax,” pushed back on West’s praise, but made references to the “Jewish mafia."
Later, West posted to Twitter the image of a swastika fused with a Star of David. AJC called out the blatant Jew hatred on social media.
While antisemitism comes from a variety of sources including white supremacists, Black supremacists, and religious extremists, the rapper’s antisemitic slurs seem to run the gamut. With a social media following of more than 31 million, his statements have become more acute, more delusional, and more dangerous. West has acknowledged he suffers from bipolar disorder, but mental illness is no excuse for antisemitism.
“Although some have tried, there is no rationale, no explaining away Kanye West’s rants on social media for anything else than what they are: vicious antisemitic statements that pose a clear and present danger to every Jewish person,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch.
Here are five of Kanye West’s previous statements and how they tie to common antisemitic tropes and conspiracies.
“I prefer my kids knew Hannukah from Kwanzaa. At least it will come with some financial engineering.”
During his interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Kanye West said he would prefer that his children learn about Hanukkah instead of Kwanzaa because at least the Jewish holiday would teach them about “financial engineering.” Producers cut that statement from the two-part, two-hour conversation that aired on Fox News Oct. 6 and 7.
The theme of greed is common in antisemitic rhetoric and fuels Jewish stereotypes such as being excessively materialistic and money-oriented, exploiting others for personal gain, being overly wealthy, and controlling the world’s finances. Read more about this antisemitic trope in AJC’s Translate Hate glossary of antisemitic terms.
“I just think that’s what they’re about, is making money,” West said in an apparent reference to Jared Kushner and his Jewish family.
Unlike West’s Hanukkah remarks, Fox News did not edit out West’s accusation that Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, negotiated the Abraham Accords simply to make money.
Again, this statement is part of the antisemitic theme of greed as explained above.
“Planned Parenthood was made by Margaret Sanger, a known eugenics, with the KKK to control the Jew population. 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. This is who our people are.”
West perpetuated the myth that Planned Parenthood was part of a conspiracy to limit the growth of the Black population by preventing the birth of Black children. But instead of saying the Black population, he called it the “Jew population.”
This echoed a long-standing antisemitic trope common among Black supremacists that claims “white” Jews are “not the real Jews.” Instead, these Black supremacists alleged without evidence that Jews are imposters who have stolen the identity and “birthright” of Black people as the true chosen people of God. According to this conspiracy theory, the descendants of the twelve Hebrew tribes of Israel settled across Africa after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel and eventually were sold into slavery.
Elements of Black supremacy can be found within Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The latter inspired a deadly antisemitic attack in 2019 at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey. Read more about this antisemitic trope in AJC’s Translate Hate glossary of antisemitic terms.
“This ain’t a game. Imma use you as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me. I told you this is war. Now gone get you some business.”
When fellow rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs contacted Kanye West directly for unveiling a “White Lives Matter” shirt as part of his fashion line at Paris Fashion Week, West posted a screenshot of their text exchange on Instagram and accused Diddy of being controlled by Jews.
Antisemitic tropes that claim Jews control the media, banks, and governments are part of a longstanding conspiracy of secret Jewish power. These myths of control portray Jews as secret puppet masters ruling over others and manipulating the world’s economies and governments, and even, apparently, Grammy Award-winning rappers.
Meta, the company that runs Instagram, removed the post and, as of the posting of this article on October 13, 2022, froze Kanye West’s account indefinitely.
“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”
Being frozen out of Instagram pushed West to post on Twitter for the first time in nearly two years. But he didn’t last long there either.
On Oct. 8, West tweeted that he would be going “death con 3 on Jewish people,” a dark and possibly confused reference to the defense readiness condition (DEFCON), a U.S. military term for heightened readiness in the face of a threat. By the next morning, Twitter had removed the post and locked West’s account for violating the social media platform’s rules regarding hateful conduct.
“Social media companies know their algorithms promote engagement,” said Holly Huffnagle, AJC’s U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism. “And hate, conspiracies, and lies foster the most engagement, which is why their hate speech policies are in place.”
Those guidelines are imperative at a time when antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world continues to rise. More than half of all religious bias crimes in the U.S. are committed against Jews. Furthermore, AJC’s latest State of Antisemitism in America report found that nearly a quarter of American Jews had been targeted personally and nearly half knew someone who had been targeted by antisemitism.
“Hatred and bigotry must not be excused,” Huffnagle said. “We must keep people accountable, especially those whose words impact millions of people. Using these platforms to share his plans ‘to go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE’ spreads antisemitic hate speech at an immeasurably amplified level.”
A lot has happened since West's outbursts in October. Elon Musk took over Twitter and restored West's account. On Thanksgiving, West used the account to announce his 2024 campaign for president after he and notorious white supremacist Nick Fuentes dined with former President Donald Trump. He and Fuentes then went on the conspiracy circuit, spewing their antisemitism on a number of talk shows, including InfoWars, hosted by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“Every human being has value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler," he told Jones. He also denied the Holocaust.
Wearing a black ski mask and armed with props including a Bible, a butterfly net, and a bottle of Yoo-hoo chocolate beverage, West went on a series of rants. Using the net and Yoo-hoo bottle, he railed on former and future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We have to control the history books, we have to control the banks and we have to go and kill people,” West said in a high-pitched voice, apparently mimicking Netanyahu and employing the tactic of targeting prominent Jewish figures to cast blame on all Jewish people.
After the show, he tweeted a swastika fused with the Star of David. This apparently crossed a line for Musk. West was banned from Twitter again by Friday morning.