In recent weeks, there has been an influx in antisemitic comments and hate crimes, many sparking from the hateful words of Kanye West. It mostly began with his Twitter posts, claiming he was, “going death con [a misspelling of defcon] 3 on Jewish people,” and “[couldn’t] be anti semitic because black people are Jew[s] also.” Twitter responded quickly, blocking Ye’s account. Many other platforms soon followed suit. On October 31, Kanye West posted a screenshot of an antisemitic text conversation regarding Jewish businesses. Instagram then suspended his account. Most recently, on December 1st, West made an appearance on Alex Jones’ Podcast Infowars, an extreme-right conspiracy theory broadcast in which West claimed that though he “loves Jewish people,” he also stated, “I like Hitler.” Directly after the podcast interview, West released a shirt concept with a star of David containing a swastika in the middle.
West’s antisemitic comments and ideals have resulted in his banning from several social media platforms, the deletion of his contract with Adidas for “Yeezy’s”, as well as deletion of his contract with Balenciaga, amongst other companies. West consequently lost his billionaire status. West’s comments have led to a massive uprise in antisemitic hate crimes, which had already been increasing prior to his actions.
With West’s contradictory statements, it has brought about a dilemma: should people still listen to his music? According to Sarah Begun, a freshman from SJR, “I think in all reality an artist is an artist, and people are free to listen as they please. By listening to a certain musician it doesn’t necessarily mean you like them, but you could like their music.” However, there are many contradictory opinions such as that of Micah Pierandri, a senior from NTO. She claims, “people should try to refrain themselves from listening to his music if possible because even if you listen to it through another service or artist, it is still giving him profit.” This topic and many others are hot topics of debate, and have many sides one can take.
I asked Begun and Pierandri what their initial reaction to Kanye’s comments were, and their reactions were quite similar. They both did not think too much of it at first, both despising the comments but believing it was not quite major. However, with his persistent antisemitism, they both realized how serious the issue was.
The Jewish community as a whole has taken quite a toll from West’s comments. In Begun’s words, “he made it seem as though the Holocaust was a joke and the Jews were in the wrong,” she added that Kanye’s decision to cover up his face was because he was, “afraid to say it to someone’s face,” and, “hiding behind his words.” Pierandri had a similar, more personal response, “we’ve been under constant attack for years since the Holocaust whether it’s comments, threats to synagogues, physical violence, and sadly more. Kanye is making the Jewish community seem like we’re a horrible community, almost like we’re not real.”
Teens in BBYO, and many Jews worldwide, were affected by Ye’s words, making Jews pause and think about their own Jewish Identity. However, Kanye’s words seem to have the opposite effect than expected, actually strengthening Jewish Identity for many. In the words of Pierandri, “I’m still very proud to be an African American Jew despite Kanye’s comments and I will forever continue to be proud of my Judaism.” Begun affirmed that his words aggravated her, but continued to stay strong through her Jewish Identity and connection to BBYO.
Despite the effect that Kanye’s words have had on the Jewish community, and the world as a whole, Jews continue to stand strong. “We’re people just like everyone else, and the fact [that] Kanye is trying to project we aren’t is disgusting and obscene,” Pierandri stated. Despite the unfortunate effect that West’s speech has had on the uprise in antisemitism, educating all is the only way we can fix the antisemitism in this world.
Heather Feuerstein is a BBG from Ahavah BBG #2289 of NRE: DC Council and she loves leadership and advocacy!
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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