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Adidas ends ties with Kanye West over antisemitism

October 25, 2022

The German sportswear giant is the latest company to end connections with the controversial celebrity. Jewish groups and rights advocates had demanded Adidas "take a clear stance" against antisemitism.

Kanye West at Milk Studios in Hollywood, California
Adidas has remained tight-lipped over its relationship with Kanye WestImage: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ADIDAS

German sportswear giant Adidas said on Tuesday that it terminated its partnership with the controversial American rapper Kanye West.

The celebrity — known formally as Ye — recently made a slew of antisemitic remarks, triggering widespread outrage and resulting in his accounts on Twitter and Instagram being restricted.

The company said in a statement that it "does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech."

"Ye's recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness."

Adidas had faced growing calls from Jewish and rights groups to end its association with West.

Earlier this month, the company said it was reviewing its relationship with West after he appeared wearing a "White Lives Matter" T-shirt at a fashion show in Paris.

What did Jewish groups say?

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has called on Bavaria-based Adidas to "immediately stop its cooperation with Kanye West," he told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Monday.

"The rapper's daily antisemitic comments are unbearable for Jews in Germany and around the world," Schuster said. "As a German company, I simply expect Adidas to take a clear stance when it comes to antisemitism. Corporate interests must not take precedence here."

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the company's silence "is a danger to Jews."

"We can't let Ye's antisemitism become normalized — we all need to demand Adidas Run Away From Hate by condemning his racist rhetoric and re-evaluating their partnership."

Controversy and conspiracy theories

On Monday, a studio decided to shelve a completed documentary about the rapper. "We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform,'' the executives of the MRC studio said in a memo.

It comes after Paris-based fashion house Balenciaga had ended ties with him last week.

West had also broken off his partnership with fashion retailer Gap last month.

His lawyer said in a statement that West was left with "no choice but to terminate their collaboration" because, he alleges, Gap breached their partnership by not opening branded Yeezy stores and distributing his apparel as originally planned, among other issues.

The artist has happily courted controversy and promoted conspiracy theories, having previously called slavery a choice and said that the COVID-19 vaccine was "the mark of the beast."

He recently announced he was buying conservative social media platform Parler, which became a hub and bubble for right-wing and far-right conspiracy theorists who felt censored on more mainstream platforms.

The rapper-turned-mogul has been open about having a bipolar disorder. A recent Netflix documentary, "Jeen-Yuhs," laid bare his ongoing mental health problems.

fb, sri/jsi (AFP, EPD, KNA, AP)