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Unpacking Kanye West’s Recent Statements: The Truth about Harmful Claims to the Jewish Community

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

On Dec.1, rapper and designer Kanye West, now known as Ye, said “I love Hitler” in an interview with Alex Jones on his podcast, InfoWars. Ye went on to say that there were good things about Hitler and repeatedly praised the Nazi leader before referring to himself as a Nazi. Hours later under his Twitter handle, Ye, he posted an image of a swastika inside a Star of David, a common symbol of Jewish identity. 

The string of antisemitic comments made by Ye began in October, when he tweeted that he was going “defcon 3 on Jewish people” and perpetuated the trope that Jews control the media industry. On Oct.16, the rapper said “Jared Kushner is an example of how the Jewish people have their hand on every single business that controls the world,” on the Drink Champs Podcast. 

“Antisemitism is degrading to people and it can make people feel unsafe. Statements like ‘defcon against Jews’ are a threat to people’s safety,” said Ari Israel, Director of Hillel at University of Maryland. 

Allegations of Jewish greed and power is not new in the entertainment industry. Ye’s tweets are perpetuating harmful stereotypes as well as bringing them to light in the mainstream media. 

“That trope has been around for hundreds of years…those stereotypes continue to spread a lie and that’s the harm. The more time people take to spread the lie, the more people feel it’s true,” said Israel. 

In the days following the initial tweets, hate crimes against Jews rose exponentially. On Oct. 23, a banner was hung on the LA freeway stating “Kanye was right about the Jews.” 

“I think he [Kanye] has said so many things recently, it’s just so much to process. All of the antisemitism and hate, but then also when he is pressed or questioned about it he doesn’t deny what he’s saying so that is just a little shocking,” said freshman kinesiology major, Sophia Wolin. 

In lieu of his statements, the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles invited West for a private tour in hopes of educating the rapper. Ye declined the invitation and soon after, the museum was flooded with hateful and threatening messages from his fans and followers. 

“I think that Kanye’s statements are really hateful and he doesn’t understand the audience he’s reaching when he says these kinds of things. Just basically promoting antisemitism and letting other people know that it’s okay to say hateful things because he is.” said Wolin. 

There are currently 15 million Jewish people worldwide, and Ye has a following of 32 million followers on Twitter. The hateful and antisemitic rhetoric being spread across mainstream media will only further ignite the spread of antisemitism in recent years. 

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high of 2,717 incidents in the United States in 2021. This is an average of over seven incidents per day nationwide. This is the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.

“We’re about to be in the season of Hanukkah, and Hanukkah is all about light within darkness. It’s our job to educate and enable people to learn the truth about harmful statements, such as those of Kanye West or Holocaust deniers,” said Israel. 

Following ye’s tweets, Adidas, Balenciaga, Gap, Vogue and the Creative Artists Agency all dropped the artist and cut ties. 

“We need allies who are willing to step up and call out hate when they see it. Businesses [dropping Kanye] should not just do it out of financial reasons, they should do it because it’s morally correct,” Israel said. 

Most recently, former president Donald Trump hosted a dinner for Ye at his Mar-a-Lago Estate. Notorious white supremacist and Holocaust denier, Nicholas Fuentas was also in attendance. This is a prime example of how antisemitism has become increasingly visible in politics. 

On Dec. 2, President Joe Biden tweeted from the presidential account, “I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.”

Ye’s statements are extremely harmful to the Jewish community, and even more so as he continues to have a large platform. Right now, it is very important to stand against hate in all forms, especially as antisemitic incidents are on the rise.

Irit Skulnik

Maryland '26

Irit Skulnik is a journalism major at the University of Maryland with an interest in writing, media, and public relations. In her free time Irit enjoys thrift shopping and is an avid Bachelor fan.