Jewish students share their thoughts, anxieties about West’s potential to further normalize antisemitism.

Sarah Hersh



Kanye West during his Tucker Carlson interview on Oct. 6. (Screenshot from interview)

Kanye West came under fire this week for using his social media platforms to share his antisemitic beliefs, claiming that music artist Sean “Diddy” Combs was being controlled by Jewish people in a text thread he posted on Instagram. 

After being suspended from Instagram for his antisemitic posts on Oct. 8, West took to Twitter for the first time since the 2020 presidential elections. 

“Im a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 oN JEWISH PEOPLE,” West wrote. The proper phrase, DEFCON, refers to a U.S. military defense readiness system.

The next day, Twitter took down the tweet and locked him out of his account for violating their policies. West has not responded to being banned from Twitter, and many fear his words have incited a wave of antisemitism. On Oct. 22, demonstrators gave the Nazi salute and held a sign over the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles that read, “Kanye is right about the Jews.”

According to FBI statistics, Jews are the most targeted religious group, comprising nearly 55% of the religiously motivated hate crimes reported in 2020. Jews make up around 2.4% of the U.S population, but are facing more assaults, burglaries, and theft than any other religious group. 

West’s antisemitic outbursts have also him brand deals with the Gap, Balenciaga, and now, Adidas. He is also being dropped by his talent agency, Creative Arts Agency.

But in light of rising antisemitism, Lindsay Ganci, the associate director of the Community Synagogue in Port Washington, New York, is worried about the weight West’s tweets carry. 

“I feel unsettled and frightened by the blatant threats and unbridled antisemitism that Kanye has so widely spread to far too many people. He has two times more followers on these channels than there are Jews in the entire world; and even those who don’t follow him are exposed to his dangerous antisemitism,” Ganci said.

The rise in antisemitism has heightened the Jewish community’s awareness of the threat they face for practicing their faith and culture. Some students at the University of Maryland spoke on the emotional impact of these statistics, West’s comments, and the continuous antisemitism they’ve encountered. 

Josh Rubinstein, a junior public health science student at this university, used to look up to Kanye as an artist and was shocked to see his posts.

“It adds this new level of danger that I feel everyday. His words have an influence on so many, so I hope no one takes his words seriously,” he said.

During his appearance on the Tucker Carlson show on Oct. 6, West spread misinformation about Jews, alleging, “Planned Parenthood was made by Margaret Sanger, a known eugenicist, with the KKK to control the Jew population.”

Given West’s popularity among younger generations, many students have become wary of the effects his tweets and interviews might have. 

“It is scary to know the following and the power he has over so many individuals, and how convincing he can be to persuade people that what he is saying is correct. People cannot excuse his behavior for mental illness after he goes on rampages hating one Jews and other communities,” Rachel Weiss, a junior business major said.

Since West shared his antisemitic thoughts, many celebrities and political leaders have and continue to condemn his words. 

One such celebrity is Jewish actress, Jamie Lee Curtis, who reconnected with her Jewish Hungarian roots in the early 90’s. Curtis and her father helped finance the rebuilding of the Great Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary. Curtis is also just one of millions whose family has been affected by the Holocaust. 

“Words Matter. A threat to Jewish people ended once in a genocide. Your words hurt and incite violence. You are a father. Please Stop,” Curtis wrote on Oct. 9.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California tweeted on Oct. 23, “Horrified by the vile antisemitism on display in L.A. this weekend. Tragically, it shows the power some hold to amplify hateful language, and how quickly they can persuade others to express their own bigotry. We must condemn hate wherever we see it – immediately and forcefully.”

Faced with antisemitism on social media and beyond, some members of the Jewish community, including Granci, feel that this targeted hate brings them closer together. 

“Jews have been oppressed and persecuted for thousands of years, and it has never and will never stop us or from being the proud, passionate Jews we are. I, for one, read of his antisemitism and feel more committed to Jewish community and vitality than ever before,” Granci said.


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