Ye’s antisemitism may be rooted in fringe beliefs, but their widespread use on social media has reached the mainstream, exemplifying exactly how the spread of hate works.
Antisemitic remarks by Ye, the artist formerly know as Kanye West, on social media and in live interviews are a frightening wake-up call that, in today’s inclusive and diverse modern society, historic antisemitism has once again reared it’s ugly head in pop culture. Surfing through CyberWell’s database is always interesting and often a somewhat difficult experience. Seeing how much explicit Jew-hatred exists on social media is alarming. However, when a celebrity with an enormous digital following is the one sharing in-your-face classic antisemitism, it is equally intimidating as it is outrageous.
In recent weeks, Ye repeatedly expressed open Jew-hatred and conspiracy theories about a Jewish cabal through various social media posts and interviews that morphed into rants. Following suspension on mainstream social media accounts, Ye informed the world of his decision to acquire another “alternative” platform, Parler, citing “freedom of speech” as his main objective. In practice, what this really means is Ye is seeking a platform on which to spread disinformation, hate and incitement to his followers with even less accountability or consequence.
We applaud the swift action taken by Instagram and Twitter, penalizing Ye’s violent speech against Jews, in clear violation of platform policy.
However, this event highlights how far social media platforms still have to come. Digital policies and community standards must be reinforced and implemented with the best available technology and flagging mechanisms. Ye’s public litany against Jews on mainstream social media platforms has sparked an even uglier phenomenon: the normalization of antisemitism under the guise of defending Ye’s speech and actions. Ye, and racists supporting his statements, are labeling themselves “Freedom Fighters” or “Truth Tellers.” This tactic is often used by racists, homophobes, antisemites, and most of all, conspiracy theorists, because it adds to the dramatic illusion of a cover-up in action.
The ugly core of Ye’s statements must be recognized: this same rhetoric has motivated violent Jew-hatred, ethnic cleansing and genocide.
In his most recent interviews with Chris Cuomo (October 17, 2022) and with Piers Morgan (October 21, 2022), Ye mentioned two main antisemitic narratives: the first is inspired by the Black Hebrew Israelites Movement (BHI), which views black people as the “real” Israelites (Jews) and claims that Jews purposely enslaved Black individuals to steal their identity. The second is the classic antisemitic accusation that Jews have disproportionate power, control the media and desire world domination.
The BHI sub-chapters beliefs and widespread vitriol have led to several acts of violence by BHI followers while using social media as an inciting tool to spread their antisemitic views. The most infamous incident was the New Jersey JC Kosher Supermarket terror attack in December 2019 in which 4 people were murdered. The terror attack was deliberately carried out to target Jewish people. Both of the perpetrators of this violent act formerly participated in one of the BHI subchapters. David Anderson, one of the perpetrators, had fake profiles on social media platforms and regularly posted antisemitic and anti-law enforcement content.
Jewish conspiracy theories of power and domination have been widely utilized throughout history to spread hate towards Jews and “justify” action against them. From blood libels to wealthy bankers, the imagery or character of Jews who abuse power has historically led to horrific consequences and genocide. The most famous document inciting conspiracy against Jews is the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, in which the 12th protocol “explains” how the Jews plan to control the media. This document was translated into English and published in the U.S. by Henry Ford in the 1920’s and it also inspired Nazi generals to propagate similar accusations in society to create the antisemitic culture and climate that became a shared societal belief in Germany and eventually led to the Holocaust.
For example, see this caricature of a “Rothschild” from 1898, portraying that the Jews intend to dominate the world:
Although these antisemitic narratives are fringe beliefs, their widespread use on social media has reached a mainstream celebrity with enormous influence, exemplifying exactly how the spread of hate works. Ye’s words are now reverberating in the streets and have inspired public demonstrations targeting Jews in Los Angeles.
It is vital to stay vigilant against online antisemitism wherever it arises, not only from celebrities. In particular, now, more than ever we must demand our social media platforms enforce the community standards that are meant to prevent the promotion of old, ugly and dangerous Jew-hatred.
“Black people classify as Jews also, can’t be Antisemitic. The term is not factual.”
“Everyone wants to shoot the messenger (…), the thing is the Jewish people that I am talking about don’t have to understand and that is why they are privileged, and that I am not gonna allow. When I wore the ‘White Lives Matter’ t-shirt, the ‘Jewish underground media mafia’ already started attacking me, they canceled my 4 stadium shows (…)”
“My life was threatened by my Jewish managers, by my Jewish lawyer, by my Jewish accountant (…) Not specifically the accountant. But there were many people who threatened my life. Also my family was torn apart off of my political opinion because of my ex-wife’s attachment to the Clinton administration.”
“Jewish people own the black voice.”
“We are not going to be owned by the Jewish media anymore. Every celebrity has Jewish people in their contract. This is not hate speech, this is the truth. And if you say anything out of the line with the agenda, then your career would be over.”
“There so many black musicians signed with Jewish record labels and those Jewish record labels take ownership not only of the publishing, but also ownership of the culture itself. It is like ‘this is mine, that guy signed with me.’ It is like modern day slavery.”
“First of all, I am a Jew also. The 12 lost tribes of Hebrew. Do the math, do your research on it. We have got our culture ripped from us and then told we were simply void of color, which is another definition for Black.”
“Do you accept that Black people are Jew?”
“Maybe they (Jewish people) would feel the pain when a Black artist looks up and they have completely been raped by 5 Jewish Businessmen”
“I feel that ‘antisemite’ has been a wall, a cloak, that allows Jewish Businessmen (…)
Chris: “Are you sorry you said ‘Death Con 3 to Jewish People?”
Ye: “No, absolutely not. Are the Jewish businessmen that ;ed me to that place, are they sorry? The way they raped me?”
“Kim (Ye’s ex-wife) has Zionist media handlers surrounding her all in and out her Hulu tv show, all in and out her family, all in and out the house I created for my family, but God is alive, the devil is a defeated foe(…)”
“I will say I am sorry to the people I hurt with the ‘Death Con’, the confusion that I caused, and I am sorry for the families of the people that have nothing to do with the trauma I have been through”.
CyberWell’s data shows a startling gap between English and Arabic when it comes to removing Holocaust denial.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a deeply antisemitic text that has gained traction in the Arabic-speaking world – recently being quoted during the World Cup in Qatar. Social media companies must recognize it as such and remove it from their platforms.
Social media companies can monitor and remove content when they are motivated by the purse strings to do so (Copyright infringement? Removed in a heartbeat). With the DSA overseeing very large platforms directly and making it possible to fine them up to 6% of their global profit, we can expect to see social media companies actively monitoring their own platforms for hate and taking it down.
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