By Bryn Fawn
Kanye West’s name has been unable to escape headlines these last few weeks. It has not been this way since his endorsement of Trump in the 2020 election. West was unable to escape the view from onlookers, watching his every move. People speculated if he was undergoing a mental health crisis, if he was bigoted or if this was simply his nature.
West’s latest scandal began Oct. 7 when West posted to Instagram claiming the musician Sean “Diddy” Combs was being manipulated by the Jewish population. This post has since been removed, and Meta locked West’s account. West then moved to Twitter, where he tweeted “When I wake up I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” Oct. 8. The tweet itself is hard to defend, threatening death upon the Jewish population, but West continues with, “the funny thing is I actually can’t be antisemetic because black people are actually jew also.”
Twitter ignited with responses to this tweet. Many users, on and off the platform, noted that West has more followers than there are Jewish individuals in the world. There are an estimated 15.2 million Jewish people in the world, according to Jewish Agency. West has 31.5 million followers on Twitter, as of Oct. 17. There is an argument to be made that a portion of his followers are bot accounts, but there is not enough to be able to claim his following does not out number the Jewish population.
There were inklings of West’s antisemtic behavior before this social media outburst. In Nov. 2021, West guest-starred on the podcast “Drink Champs.” Before diving into the content of the clip, hosted by The Brew Report on YouTube, many of the comments beneath the video agree with West’s viewpoint. Some treat him like a prophet, almost. They clarify he isn’t exactly correct, but that he has time to grow, and god will show him the way. It’s reminiscent of conspiracy theories or cults, even.
West begins with commenting on the changing of our times. West states that his mother was dictated what fountain she could drink from, due to segregation, while now Black individuals are a “vote,” specifically the “Black vote.” He also continuously remarks that Black individuals are from the blood of Christ, and that all Black individuals are inherently Christian.
“We blood of Christ. We blood of Moses,” West stated. “We not just a color in a crayon box, and if we knew that, who we really were, we would treat each other differently; we would treat ourselves differently. ‘I’m Black and I’m proud.’ like, but [proud] of what?”
West then criticized how Black history is presented. West claims the African History Museum starts history too late claiming it should begin with the Bible and how slavery was a punishment from god for disobedience, rather than a cruel chain of commerce by Europeans.
“It has to deal with the Bible. It has to deal with [Black individuals] being disobedient to god. That’s why we farm land that isn’t our own,” West said.
West then explained how god has given him this opportunity to lead, how none of this was by chance and how he is the Moses of today.
“I’m the leader. Let’s open up this bible. God pointed at this man and said I’m worth nine million dollars,” West said. “I’m gonna be the Moses of the situation because that’s what God anointed me [with] the skill set to do that.”
West did include a twisted statistic that “50% of all black death is abortion.” The definition of death being used here is weak. It does not point toward death in the legal sense or moral sense. Legally, it is currently up for debate if the termination of a fetus means death.
The clip concludes with West discussing creating a kibbutz, a settlement that is unique to the people of Israel.
“Where we need to live,” he said. “Where the grandparents can take care of the kids. It’s better to have a grandparent taking care of the kids than a nanny. As a community, we will not fail. I think there is a community that didn’t go into slavery, like I think it’s Masada.”
Masada is a small agricultural community in Southern Israel.
The entirety of the clip leans toward the notion that Black individuals are Israelites, and need to “return to their roots,” in a sense, return to Israel.
West has also caused more issues, dragging his name through the mud. He plans to purchase Parler, a right-wing social media site commonly associated with President Donald Trump. Parler is dedicated to providing free speech for its users, and is a competitor to Twitter, just without the userbase. Yet, Trump has apparently called West “crazy” according to two sources from The Rolling Stones.
West is also now facing a lawsuit. West alleged that George Floyd, the man who became a martyr for the Black Lives Matter movement back in 2020, had not died from asphyxiation from the knee pressed against his neck and was instead a fentanyl overdose. Floyd’s daughter has since announced a $250 million lawsuit, and the attorney representing the case admitted they sent a cease-and-desist to West.
Kay Harper Williams, one of the three attorneys, said, “Free Speech Rights do not include harassment, lies, misrepresentation, and the misappropriation of George Floyd’s legacy. Some words have consequences and Mr. West will be made to understand that.”
Ezhra Katz, a Jewish student on campus, was interviewed for their thoughts on the matter. When asked about how Judaism related to their identity, Klutz stated: “I am part of a community that has time and time again overcome near extinction. It interplays with every facet of my being. It reminds me that the way I love is holy, my body is holy and I belong somewhere.”
Katz also shared how Judaism is based in social justice, and how there is a saying in the community to look at what atheists are doing, for they have no fear of god looming over them.
When asked about West’s tweets, Katz said they were not surprised. They commented on how antisemitism has been on the rise online. Katz also commented on how this behavior is not unusual for West. Katz shared how West has a history of prejudice against women, other people of color, and those who do not support his own political views. Klutz concluded that West had his “chance” a while ago, but removing him from social media is not the perfect solution.
Katz also shared their feelings toward people online excusing West’s behavior as just a mental health crisis or outburst.
“That upset me, as a person who deals with mental illness. Furthermore, as a person who is disabled, mental health isn’t an excuse. Especially in the case of Kanye, that is a freebie we have been tossing him for quite some time,” Katz said.
Katz shared their fears for the future after this entire incident, that they fear “the usual.” They shared that they refuse to wear their kippah outside of Temple, and how they fear to become another news headline by being a victim of another bigoted shooting.
It shouldn’t be usual for someone to fear being attacked in their place of worship. Church, Temple, one’s home or anywhere for spirituality should be a safe haven.
Katz also shared what they want to see come from this situation: “SUNY Plattsburgh isn’t a place where I feel safe to be Jewish. I want non-Jews to understand that Jewish people are more than the Holocaust, more than the Shohah. We are a real living breathing people. Every Jewish voice matters in the conversation.”