As celebrity backlash builds against Kanye West’s recent antisemitic remarks, a post with the message “I support my Jewish friends” has gone viral on Instagram.
The message was amplified by support from The Kardashians, especially Kanye’s ex-wife, Kim.
For those out of the loop, the timing and meaning of the “I support my Jewish friends” posts may be confusing – so, what’s going on? And what does this have to do with Kanye?
Let’s unpack this.
‘I support my Jewish friends’: Meaning and context explained
The now-viral Instagram post originated with cookbook author Jessica Seinfeld. Fed up with the right-wing support Kanye’s antisemitic remarks were garnering, comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s wife decided to post a simple message of solidarity on her Instagram.
“I support my Jewish friends and the Jewish people,” Seinfeld’s post read in blue letters on a black background. The caption was a call for her 585,000 followers to spread the message further.
“If you don’t know what to say, you can just say this in your feed,” Seinfeld wrote.
The meaning of the “I support my Jewish friends” post is simple: a show of support not only to one’s Jewish friends but to the community at large.
Seinfeld, who is Jewish, was reacting to recent antisemitic remarks made by rapper Kanye West (who now goes by Ye), including a tweet declaring his intention to “go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”. The rapper doubled down on his controversial takes by wearing a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt to Paris Fashion Week and telling Fox host Carlson Tucker he found the whole thing amusing.
Ye’s antisemitism resulted in a social media ban and widespread attempts to boycott his various brand deals and endorsements. So far, Balenciaga and Hollywood talent agency CAA have reportedly cut ties with the rapper and the family of George Floyd, whose police killing in May 2020 reignited the Black Lives Matter movement, announced their intention to sue Kanye over remarks made on a podcast.
Last week, while a guest on the podcast Drink Champs, Kanye made disparaging and false claims about Floyd’s death. Drink Champs immediately pulled the episode after receiving backlash, Hollywood Reporter said.
Instagram rallies against Kanye’s antisemitic comments
Amid all the backlash, Ye has found support in the most radical of places. On Saturday, October 21, a white supremacist organization called the Goyim Defense League hung a banner above freeway 405 in Los Angeles that read “Kanye is right about the Jews.”
Instead of reposting Kanye’s comments in anger, however, Instagram users are responding with a message of solidarity towards the Jewish community.
The meaning of “I support my Jewish friends,” then, is a more wholesome form of online protest. The now-viral squares are slightly reminiscent of the Blackout Tuesday posts from two and a half years ago.
And the “I support my Jewish friends” square, wholesome meaning and all, is receiving a similar kind of backlash. One Instagram user posted a doctored version of Seinfeld’s viral image with an asterisked addendum which read in part: “as long as you aren’t Zionists, as long as you aren’t religious, as long as your political views align with mine.”
Celebs speak out in support of their Jewish friends & community
However, the overwhelming reaction from celebrities seemed to be positive. Shortly after it was posted, Seinfeld’s “I support my Jewish friends” message (meaning intact this time) was shared by both Jewish and non-Jewish users.
Jewish comedian Amy Schumer was among the first to share, followed by gentile celebs including Jenna Bush Hager, Meghan McCain, Gemma Chan and Reese Witherspoon, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
Kanye’s ex-wife, Kim, also spoke out against her ex’s antisemitic rhetoric. “Hate speech is never OK or excusable,” she wrote in an IG story. “I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end.”
“Liberation is a group project,” read a tweet from Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women. “Jews must show up for non-Jews. White people must show up for BIPOC. Abled people must show up for disabled people. Cis people must show up for trans people. We all must come together for a more whole tomorrow.”