Assault, bullying, vandalism: US sees dozens of Kanye-linked antisemitic attacks

ADL extremism researchers report at least 30 incidents targeting Jews tied to rapper in recent months, along with widespread online campaign amplifying his message

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Kanye West watches an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, January 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Kanye West watches an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, January 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

There have been dozens of antisemitic incidents tied to Kanye West in the US since his onslaught against Jews late last year, including assaults, hate speech, targeted harassment, and vandalism, according to a Monday report.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has documented at least 30 hateful incidents referring to the rapper, who now goes by Ye, as well as a major social media campaign amplifying his message.

The ADL said references to Ye, often accompanied by swastikas or antisemitic slurs, have become shorthand for Jew-hatred.

Soon after Ye began his tirade in October, the slogan “Ye is right” appeared online at around the same time Elon Musk took control of Twitter. The takeover coincided with a spike in antisemitic content and decreased moderation.

There have been over 10,000 Twitter mentions referring to the “Ye is right” slogan, reaching at least six million users.

Starting last month, white supremacists from the Groypers group began a series of appearances on college campuses under the slogan, “Ye is right, change my mind.”

During the events, the white supremacists espoused Holocaust denial, praise for the Nazi regime and anti-Jewish conspiracies, under the guise of defending Ye.

The events took place at five universities in Florida and Alabama.

Antisemites at banners over an LA freeway declare ‘Kanye is right about the Jews.’ (Oren Segal, via Twitter / used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Social media chatter about the antisemitic rapper spiked following events at two of the universities. Some of the posts call for others to spread the message, or link to extremist sites, online stores for Ye merchandise, and a survey to collect contact information for his supporters.

Some of the accounts share content connected to the white supremacist Nick Fuentes, who met former US president Donald Trump alongside Ye in November.

The hate speech has also manifested on the ground with attacks and harassment across the US.

In a few examples, a vandal scrawled “Kanye West is right” and “Kill all Jews” next to three swastikas in a high school bathroom in California; someone spray-painted “Kanye 2024” on a Jewish day school in California; a man harassed and threatened Jews outside a synagogue in Michigan, including by telling them “Kanye was right”; students bullied a Jewish classmate in Connecticut with Holocaust jokes and statements about Ye; and an attacker physically assaulted a Jewish man in New York while shouting “Fuck you, Jews,” and “Kanye 2024.”

Extremist groups including the Goyim Defense League, White Lives Matter and NatSoc Florida have also embraced Ye’s rhetoric.

The groups have dropped banners supporting Ye in California, New York, and Florida, and used a projector to display the message “Kanye is right about the Jews” onto buildings at a football game in Florida. The groups also distributed antisemitic propaganda that referred to Ye in a number of cities.

A separate survey released by the American Jewish Committee on Monday found that over four in 10 US Jews feel they are less safe than a year ago.

The ADL recorded 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the US in 2021, a 34 percent increase from the previous year, and the highest since it began tracking in 1979.

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