Kanye West

Artist formally known as Kanye West goes from artistic inspiration to a purveyor of antisemitism.

At an early age, Kanye West (now Ye)  taught us the importance of personal branding. His music was the birth of his own hypebeast culture, a community-wide appreciation for self-investment through fashion. Who cannot forget those iconic bar mitzvah shutter-shade giveaways? To own a pair of the original Nike Air Yeezys defined you as the coolest kid on the block, and we were eager to do anything to get our hands on them.

Adar Rubin
Adar Rubin

The music served as a healing source of emotional comfort for a young Jewish teenager who was also going through his parent’s divorce in his private life, scared and pessimistic of rapid life-altering change. We learned general business skills as well as the importance of fiscal responsibility through the streetwear market. We would hang out at any sneaker convention or consignment shop we could find.

Over the past few weeks, the artist formerly known as Kanye West betrayed my Jewish community he helped motivate. After reading his horrific antisemitic remarks on social media, especially the words “Death Con 3,” I felt a real sense of painful disillusionment, fear and, above all, rage.

His follow-up insinuation of Jewish people being behind the curtains of “cancel-culture” was appalling, and despite its definition as a variant of the media control trope, Twitter did not remove the tweet. It currently has more than 385,000 likes, conjecturally suggesting endorsements of this damning message.

We are talking about an upper echelon-ranked celebrity with 21 Grammys and more Twitter followers, 31 million more specifically, than the current Jewish population globally, which currently sits at over 15 million and growing.

The further unveiling of Kanye’s unaired comments that were cut out from his interview with Tucker Carlson should infuriate everyone. The most alarming revelation of the unaired footage is that Carlson did not push back at all on Kanye and, instead, allowed him to continuously and collectively regurgitate his hate by airing his other tropes.

In a damning evasion of accountability, Kanye refused to apologize. He then participated in several interviews for outlets such as Drink Champs and Chris Cuomo’s show on NewsNation, where his antisemitism further intensified. Why are these outlets providing him a platform for hate-fueled escalation?

I’m Not a Teen Anymore

Fourteen years later, I’m now 27 years old, working in bipartisan Israel advocacy, devoting my career to researching extremism, combatting antisemitism, diplomacy and the provision of opportunities for broader communities to connect with Israeli innovation. This chapter proceeded after an exhausting number of years in partisan politics, which alone nearly took a toll on my own mental health.

Speaking of partisanship, Candace Owen’s protection of Kanye is the coup-de-grâce for her already desecrated reputation. Her hostile social media attacks targeting pro-Israel pundits followed by her TPUSA-sponsored appearance last week at Michigan State University serves as her middle-finger to every Jewish student on campus.

Regardless of one’s politics, we should all feel livid that former President Trump had the heedless audacity to defend Kanye in order to preserve his political loyalty. This was within 48 hours of Trump telling American Jews to “get their act together … before it’s too late” as an aggressive show of animosity for not receiving the Jewish vote in 2020. These dangerous moves are a strong reminder that antisemitism was the largest factor in my past that cemented my sanitization from the MAGA wing.

I spoke to several interfaith partners, candidates and elected officials in Michigan from both sides of the political aisle who’ve both personally and publicly expressed their vehement disgust with Kanye’s pejorative rhetoric against the Jewish community. We should also accept that the past few years have bitterly revealed, to everyone’s dismay, that both sides also house a small fraction of extremists who seek to divide our faith by making Israel and antisemitism a partisan issue. I am grateful that the community has a strong bipartisan support system taking the core initiative to address and fight antisemitism, regardless of its source.

Adar Rubin is the Israel Associate at the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC.

Previous articleLooking Back: The Women’s Military Memorial
Next articlePurely Commentary: America’s 21st Century – Who Will Write Our Next Chapter?