By Ron Kampas, JTA
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
The social media company owned by Elon Musk has once again reinstated Kanye West, the musician and artist whose antisemitic spree last fall twice cost him his account.
Accounts that have tracked West’s presence on X, the platform known until recently as Twitter, first noted his reinstatement, disappearance and then reinstatement again.
An anonymous source told the Wall Street Journal that West had agreed to the company’s terms for reinstatement: He could not post antisemitic or offensive comment and he would not be allowed to monetize the account. West has yet to tweet since being reinstated.
The major Jewish civil liberties groups denounced West’s return, saying he is unrepentant about the antisemitic invective he unleashed last year and that led to his first and second bans.
“Absolutely sickening that antisemite Kanye West was unsuspended from Twitter/X and given a gold verification check mark,” which signifies a verified business account, Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League CEO, tweeted. “He’s done absolutely nothing to make amends.”
The American Jewish Committee said the reinstatement “sends a terrible signal to Jew haters on the platform and everywhere.”
West was banned last October after posts that were interpreted as threatening Jews, reinstated in late November and then banned again in December after he posted a swastika on the account.
“I tried my best,” Musk tweeted at the time. “Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.”
West also expressed antisemitic ideas offline at the same time, at one point joining conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his Infowars podcast in December to proclaim repeatedly, “I like Hitler.” The outburst cost him relationships and jobs, including a lucrative deal with Adidas. In March, he said watching Jonah Hill in “21 Jump Street” “made me like Jewish people again,” but Jewish groups and others did not take the claim seriously.
Musk, the electric automobile mogul, calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” although he has banned accounts that he perceives as having attacked him personally. After he bought Twitter last year, the platform, which rebranded as X earlier this month, reinstated accounts removed under the previous ownership for racism, antisemitism and promoting violence. Musk has at times tangled with organized Jewish groups for appearing to cross the line into antisemitism himself.
Adidas this week announced that buyers of Yeezy sneakers, the shoes that it produced with West, would begin getting blue pins made by Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. The brand also said it would donate proceeds from the sales to the ADL and to a foundation launched by the family of George Floyd, the Black man whose murder by a police officer in Minneapolis in 2020 set off a formative round of racial justice protests. Adidas had announced in May that it would donate proceeds from Yeezys, which it was contractually obligated to produce, “to the organizations that are helping us and that were also hurt by Kanye’s statements” but had not disclosed which groups were getting the funds