By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento, CA – Update: Adidas announced on Tuesday morning they were cutting ties with Kanye West. They announced they had cut ties with Ye, the musician and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West.
The German-based maker of athletic gear after weeks of silence, finally broke its silence on Tuesday, saying in a statement: “After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.”
On Monday, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Chair and Vice Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus called on Adidas to sever ties with Kanye West over his anti-Semitic threats to kill Jews. Kanye’s death threats against Jews are now being amplified, including with a banner over a Los Angeles freeway.
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, they said, “Words have consequences. Kanye West threatened Jews, and now other extremists are openly threatening our Jewish community with hateful banners on the 405 freeway and distributing appalling antisemitic propaganda in our neighborhoods.”
They added, “Any company—including Adidas—that continues to do business with Kanye West is party to this attack on Jews. It is morally indefensible to turn a blind eye to antisemitism and to put profits over the safety of Jews or others targeted by hate.”
Gabriel during the press conference noted that the “series of reprehensible statements and social media posts and comments by Kanye West” have “have directly attacked the Jewish community and have threatened harm in the most unambiguous terms against the Jewish community.”
Moreover, these “antisemitic vitriolic comments by Kanye West have emboldened other extremists. And we saw this in a very profound and visceral way here in Los Angeles, where extremists held a put up a banner over the 405 freeway, one of the busiest thorough fares in Southern California.”
Gabriel noted, “We have seen a dramatic escalation in anti-Semitisim following these reprehensible comments by Kanye West.”
He added, “We believe that Adidas has a special responsibility to sever ties with Kanye West.z”
Gabriel referenced a recent article in the NY Times on Adidas.
“I was reading a New York Times article that earlier today that pointed out that the founder of Adidas was a member of the Nazi party,” he explained. “This is a company that has a special responsibility to unequivocally condemn Kanye West and to unequivocally condemn his antisemitism and to sever their ties with him.”
Gabriel continued, “It is morally indefensible for them to turn a blind eye to his antisemitism and to profit off of hate. And this is not a moment for people to remain silent. We need people to speak out. We need people to show unequivocally where they stand.”
He added, “We are reminded by this, by the Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, who in accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, reminded people that in situations like this, we must take size. That neutrality helps the oppressor, that silence occurs, the tormentor.”
Senator Wiener, Vice Chair of the Legislative Jewish Caucus added, “We’ve seen a significant rise in anti-Semitism around the country and around the world – violence against Jews, hateful speech, hateful political rhetoric, some of the oldest tropes in the world blaming us for controlling the media, saying that we control business, blaming us for all the ills of the world. And we’ve seen that for centuries.”
He said, “We know historically that when Jews start being blamed for problems in the world, that leads to violence against us and it leads to the killing of Jews sometimes in a very profound and huge way.”
Senator Wiener added, “What Kanye is doing goes above and beyond. He literally said that he wanted to start killing Jews. He wasn’t even oblique about it. It was very, very explicit. He did it on social media (where) he has a huge following. And he felt comfortable. Kanye felt perfectly comfortable just saying that he wanted to start killing Jews.”
They were also joined by Teresa Drenick from the Anti-Defamation League.
Drenick, the Deputy Regional director here at the ADL in the Central Pacific region said, “There’s absolutely no doubt that Kanye West’s unhinged antisemitic remarks and then his doubling down on them again and again, have real world impact. He is normalizing antisemitism at a time, as you’ve mentioned, when antisemitic acts and hate crimes are already at historic levels, he’s fanning the flames of antisemitism and at the same time, giving aid and comfort to white supremacists and other extremists who see his remarks not only as encouragement, but as validation and also opportunity to spread hate.”
She continued, “You mentioned this group that hung a banner over the 405 overpass in Los Angeles over the weekend. They are a well known antisemitic group, virulently group. And while their tactic of hanging banners on freeway overpasses is not new, the fact that they are now invoking Kanye West’s name shows starkly how white supremacists hate groups in this country are leveraging his antisemitism and trying to normalize it across society.”
Drenick added, “Look at the message that they hung over the freeway in huge letters. Kanye is right, that is proof positive that hate reads more hate and words really do matter. We know that right now there is a growing list of celebrities who have denounced his rhetoric, but it’s shocking, shocking that certain companies continue to profit from his name, from his clothing, from his products, while at the same time completely ignoring his hate filled grants.”
She said, “This is simply unacceptable. And that is why we at the Anti-Defamation League are calling on Adidas to run away from hate.”