Jewish groups ask influencers to stop Kanye interviews

Jewish and anti-hate organizations are urging social media influencers and tech platforms to stop hosting interviews with Ye, the rapper and artist formerly known as Kanye West, as he’s continued to make antisemitic statements and criticize Jewish people in his recent public appearances. 

Representatives for five Jewish and anti-hate groups including the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Jewish Committee, StopAntisemitism and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance called on influencers and tech platforms to take responsibility for their part in allowing Ye’s antisemitic statements to spread online.

“Anybody who gives him a platform, you’re basically complicit at this point,” said Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism. “The only goal of his is to spew hatred and further vilify Jews.”

The statements come after white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who has been working on Ye’s 2024 presidential campaign, livestreamed what he said was a call with Twitch star Adin Ross on Dec. 3, in which the two appeared to discuss a potential interview involving Ye and Ross. Ross, a popular Twitch streamer with 7 million followers, is Jewish and said that he was going to “stand up for the Jews” in the interview.

On Dec. 5, political streamer Hasan Piker said in a Twitch stream that he may participate in the interview. Piker has more than 2 million followers on the popular Amazon-owned streaming platform.

Neither Piker nor Ross responded to a request for comment. A Twitch representative responded by pointing NBC News to its hateful conduct policy, which forbids “behavior that is motivated by hatred, prejudice or intolerance.” The representative noted that if a guest on a Twitch-creator-hosted show broke its policies, it would most likely take down the stream and suspend the show’s host.

Rez said that even if Ross planned to challenge Ye, she would be concerned that the interview would stoke antisemitic violence.

“I would hope and we would hope that Aiden Ross’ ratings and follower base are put secondary to the safety of Jews,” she said.

The Anti-Defamation League says that antisemitic violence is increasing and reached an all time high in the U.S. in 2021.

Daniel Kelley, the director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society, said that continuing to interview Ye and “even entertaining the idea is damaging in a certain way.”

“When you give an antisemite a megaphone to shout their antisemitism, whether that’s a large mainstream platform where they have a following or whether you’re a streamer who is giving over your audience to them, I think it normalizes antisemitism and it makes it so that Jews are less safe,” Kelley said.

Ross has been silent on the topic of the Ye interview since the call with Fuentes was published. Some online have speculated that the interview was canceled. Kelley said he’d hope that Ross and Piker would speak out if that were the case.

“I think that would be a really powerful statement and it would say something to the audiences that these streamers reach, that is, ‘You know, we thought about it, and by giving a platform to Kanye West we would be amplifying and normalizing antisemitism,’” Kelley said.

Kelley and Rez emphasized that they believed Twitch’s user base, composed largely of young people interested in online gaming, was especially vulnerable to Ye’s antisemitic language. In a survey released last week, the Anti-Defamation League said that 15% of young people between the ages of 10 and 17 reported being exposed to white supremacist ideology while engaged in online gaming in 2022. 

“We are seeing the continued normalization of sort of white supremacist ideas in gaming spaces,” Kelley said. “I think there is a real danger to giving a platform to this kind of conversation in that space.”

Susan Corke, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, supported the idea of removing Ye from platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Twitch, but said that was just a first step.

“It is a whole constellation of issues, and we’ve been tracking how there has been the switch to streaming platforms by the hard right,” Corke said. “They have found that they can make a lot of money off it, and it’s much harder for organizations like ours to track it.”

Holly Huffnagle, the director for combating antisemitism at the American Jewish Committee, said that to effectively deal with antisemitism, platforms, influencers and audiences need to stop giving the attention to people spreading antisemitic ideas.

“We have to have a society-wide response to this problem,” Huffnagle said.