Kanye’s antisemitic, Jewish tweet (and what we can learn from it)

Each one of Kanye's posts are classic antisemitic tropes.
American rapper Kanye West poses before Christian Dior 2015-2016 fall/winter ready-to-wear collection fashion show on March 6, 2015 in Paris. (Photo: PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Kanye’s antisemitic posts on social media leading up to his Twitter threat of doing a “death con 3” against the Jewish people is a learning moment in classic antisemitism.

The multi-day tirade began on Instagram in a now deleted post titled “Jesus is Jew” where he posted an alleged conversation between him and singer Sean Combs (the singer formally known as Puff Daddy). His account was restricted by Instagram following the post.

Kanye then went on Fox News and told Tucker Carlson that Jared Kushner’s (who is Jewish) diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, known as the Abraham Accords, were motivated by money.

After being restricted on Instagram, Kanye took to Twitter late Saturday night and threatened the Jewish community, saying he was going to go “death con 3” on Jewish people. It appears Kanye was making a reference to the U.S. military’s DEFCON alert state– at DEFCON 3 the U.S. Air Force is ready to mobilize in 15 minutes.

Kanye then defended himself saying that he could not be antisemitic because “black people are actually Jew.” Twitter deleted his tweet an hour after posting which prompted Kanye in new tweet to make the insinuation that Jewish people created cancel culture. (All this happened just hours after Elon Musk welcomed him back to the platform.)

Kanye was reportedly suspended on Sunday from Twitter, a rep telling The N.Y. Post that West’s account “has been locked due to a violation of Twitter’s policies.”

Each one of Kanye’s posts are classic antisemitic tropes:

  • Claiming antisemitism isn’t valid because Jesus was Jewish
  • Jewish influence over society
  • Jews are motivated by money
  • Jewish people aren’t actually the “real Jews”

Let’s break them down.

Who are the Jewish people?

“Who is a Jew?” is one of those big questions without a clear-cut answer. But throughout history, defining someone as Jewish or not has come with high stakes — as high as the difference between life and death. To some Jews, their Jewish identity is their entire world; others don’t even think about it. So, who gets to decide whether someone else is a Jew and what does Jewish identity even mean?

Unlike other conspiracy theories it’s not just a fringe few who are pushing the idea that Ashkenazi Jews aren’t actually Jewish.

Black Jews have been a part of American history since before the colonial era. In fact, Jews of Roman-African or Afro-Caribbean descent, of diverse lineage, or who have converted continue to contribute to the rich and multi-faceted history of the Jewish people. Today, some of these Jews of Color have come together in communities and organizations to bring them out of the margins and into the mainstream of American Jewry.

Jews are motivated by money

Antisemitic tropes about Jewish wealth have been around for centuries. While there are some truly wild conspiracy theories out there it does beg the question…are Jews rich?

While not ALL Jews are rich, Jewish people are still statistically overrepresented among the wealthy. This may be due to the overall Jewish value of education and a gravitation towards more urban environments where there are greater opportunities for economic advancement.

Historically, Jews have experienced periods of great economic instability, yet the challenges they have faced have created a culture of resilience and entrepreneurial perseverance still evident today.

Jews control everything

Singling out Jews who are involved in media and finance is a trope that’s part of a larger conspiracy theory claiming that Jews control everything as part of some global plot.

But where does this conspiracy theory come from? This trope finds its roots in 18th and 19th century Russian antisemitism.

Jesus was a Jew so I can’t be antisemitic

Christianity and Judaism have a lot in common, not a huge surprise given Christianity’s Jewish roots. But there’s a major point of difference between the two religions — Jesus. To the Jews, Jesus was a man; to Christians, a messiah, which is a pretty fundamental difference of opinion — and it’s one (of many) that’s shaped the history of Jewish-Christian relations over the centuries.

Before, Jews had to contend with the pagan world, but Christians actively sought to convert other religions and didn’t tolerate those who resisted. Judaism’s existence threatened their claim that Christianity was the spiritual inheritance to Israel.