Los Angeles hit by anti-Semitic incidents fuelled by Kanye West comments

Banners with anti-Semitic messages hung above motorway as Adidas, CAA and studio drop Ye

Kanye West has recently alienated fans and business partners with anti-Semitic comments, interest in racist conspiracy theories and by wearing a provocative "White Lives Matter" T-shirt at Paris Fashion Week. AFP
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Fanned by rapper Kanye West's remarks, demonstrators unfurled anti-Semitic banners above the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles at the weekend.

“Kanye is right about the Jews”, read one of the banners.

Another asked drivers to “Honk if you know".

The demonstrators gave Nazi salutes as they stood on the overpass of one of America’s busiest motorways, local media said.

The acts of anti-Semitism has shocked many and shaken the community.

“I think it's really a very concerning thing because it is something that basically is spewing a hateful ideology and ideas at a time when we are, as a community, really working to push back against hate,” said Robin Toma, executive director of Los Angeles County’s Commission on Human Relations.

Mr Toma, whose organisation tracks hate speech and crimes in America's most populated county, said hate crimes in general were on the rise.

The incident on the motorway appears to have been fuelled by West’s recent tirades against Jewish people.

The rapper, who now goes by Ye, has a long history of controversial comments and recently tweeted that he was “going def con 3 on Jewish people".

“This banner drop is proof positive that Kanye West's anti-Semitic rhetoric is serving as an accelerant for extremists,” said Jeffrey Abrams, the LA regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

West has since been suspended from Twitter and Instagram, although he has recently committed to buying the right-wing social media platform Parler.

"It is incredibly disappointing when celebrities use their star power to amplify hateful ideas,” Mr Toma told The National.

“I think that whenever a celebrity expresses views that are so hateful or potentially dangerous … it can lead to potentially more acts of hate, including hate crime and hate violence.”

Mr Abrams and the ADL are calling on companies who are in business with West to dissociate themselves from the controversial celebrity.

“What we hope is that companies like adidas and Gap who are partners with Kanye West will take action,” he told The National.

“We hope that this is a catalysing moment. When people of good faith, Jewish and non-Jewish come together, and again with a clarion voice, speak that they will not tolerate this.”

The banners over the motorway were not the only anti-Semitic incident in Los Angeles over the weekend.

Police in Beverly Hills are investigating several flyers that were distributed in the upscale neighbourhood on Sunday that propagated racist stereotypes against Jewish people.

Former president Donald Trump recently came under criticism for comments that many construed as anti-Semitic when he suggested American Jews were disloyal to him on his social-media platform, Truth Social.

“US Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel — Before it is too late," Mr Trump wrote.

The White House condemned the former president’s comments as anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, MRC has said it will not be releasing a documentary with West.

“We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform,” top executives at the independent production company behind hits such as Knives Out said on Monday.

The Creative Artists Agency (CAA), West's touring representative, dropped him as well, and luxury fashion house Balenciaga has ended a lucrative deal with him.

And on Tuesday, shoemaker Adidas terminated its multi-million dollar contract with the pariah.

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company also said in a statement. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

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Updated: October 25, 2022, 4:04 PM