Chorus of outrage against Kanye West grows as antisemitic incidents rattle LA

Sports brand Adidas is also facing pressure to cut ties with the rapper over his hateful comments

Kanye West is facing a growing backlash among California political leaders, entertainment industry figures and members of the Jewish community – who have called on Adidas to cut ties with the star – following several antisemitic incidents in Los Angeles that came after the artist made bigoted comments about Jewish people.

The fashion designer and rapper now known as Ye has been spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories for weeks in interviews and on social media. He generated further outrage for wearing a “white lives matter” T-shirt during his runway show at Paris fashion week earlier this month.

On Monday, several politicians – including congresswoman and LA mayoral candidate Karen Bass and Scott Weiner, a state senator and vice-chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus – condemned Ye’s behavior and urged the sportswear brand to sever ties with him.

They referenced an incident over the weekend in which protesters on a freeway overpass were photographed giving Nazi salutes with banners referencing antisemitic comments made by Ye. In addition, Los Angeles police are investigating a recent distribution around the city of flyers spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories.

“We must all condemn the hate spewed by Kanye West, which has real consequences that we saw in Los Angeles this weekend,” Bass said on Twitter. “Until they sever ties, Adidas is enabling and financing his hate – they must act now.”

Ye has a history of courting controversy, including his 2020 run for president and claims that slavery was a “choice”. But Ye, who is bipolar, has experienced relatively few repercussions from past comments.

His latest comments however have sparked widespread backlash, including calls for a boycott of Ye, and led Instagram and Twitter to suspend his accounts.

“In a short period, Ye’s made himself the most well-known, widely heard, brazen antisemite on the planet. Where is the outrage?” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “This will have real world consequences for the Jewish people.”

Greenblatt also called out the sports brand tweeting: “Thousands of signatures, and still no word, @adidas ? Your silence is a danger to Jews.”

The chorus of outrage over Ye’s comments does appear to be gaining traction. The heads of Hollywood’s top agencies have called for a boycott of Ye. In a memo to staff, Jeremy Zimmer, the chief of UTA, which previously represented the rapper, wrote that his comments “embolden others to amplify their vile beliefs”, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

On Monday a source told the Los Angeles Times that CAA, Ye’s talent agency, will no longer represent him. Ari Emanuel, the CEO of the entertainment agency Endeavor, wrote in the Financial Times: “Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience. There should be no tolerance anywhere for West’s anti-Semitism.”

Balenciaga, the Gap and JP Morgan have also ended their relationships with Ye, the newspaper reported. A documentary about the star was also shelved.

Kim Kardashian, Ye’s ex-wife whom he has been accused of publicly harassing this year in the wake of their divorce, condemned antisemitism on Monday, in what appears to be a reference to the artist’s comments.

“Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end,” she said on Twitter.

Adidas announced several weeks ago that it was reviewing its relationship with Ye after he reportedly became disgruntled with how the brand was marketing his products.

“After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review,” Adidas said in a statement in early October. The artist was associated with Nike for years but broke away in 2013, lending his name to Adidas as they launched their first Yeezy shoe together in 2015 – a partnership that went on to make him a billionaire.

Reuters contributed reporting


Dani Anguiano in Los Angeles

The GuardianTramp

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