“This morning, after discussion with our filmmakers and distribution partners, we made the decision not to proceed with any distribution for our recently completed documentary about Kanye West,” CEO Modi Wiczyk, CEO Asif Satchu, and COO Scott Tenley wrote in a joint statement sent to the media. “We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform.”
“Kanye is a producer and sampler of music,” MRC’s leaders continued. “Last week he sampled and remixed a classic tune that has charted for over 3,000 years — the lie that Jews are evil and conspire to control the world for their own gain… Kanye has now helped mainstream it in the modern era.”
The decision made by MRC — Billboard‘s former publisher — follows a Financial Times op-ed published by Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, last week that urged West’s various business partners to halt work with him. “Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience,” Emanuel wrote. “There should be no tolerance anywhere for West’s anti-Semitism.”
Emanuel went on to note that “West is not just any person — he is a pop culture icon with millions of fans around the world. And among them are young people whose views are still being formed. This is why it is necessary for all of us to speak out. Hatred and anti-Semitism should have no place in our society, no matter how much money is at stake.”
On Sunday, Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of UTA, also sent a memo asking staff to “please support the boycott of Kanye West.” “Regrettably, anti-Semitism, racism and many forms of hate and intolerance are part of the fabric of society,” Zimmer wrote. “... Throughout history some have used their public platform to spew the plague out loud and spread the contagion to dangerous effect. Kanye is the latest to do so, and we’re seeing how his words embolden others to amplify their vile beliefs.”
In addition to announcing their decision to shelve the documentary on West, MRC’s leaders called on others to distance themselves from the star or condemn his statements. “The silence from leaders and corporations when it comes to Kanye or antisemitism in general is dismaying but not surprising,” their statement read. “Why is a group that has historically been brave and unreserved in its fight against antisemitism so quiet on Kanye?”
Read the full MRC memo below:
This morning, after discussion with our filmmakers and distribution partners, we made the decision not to proceed with any distribution for our recently completed documentary about Kanye West. We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform.
Kanye is a producer and sampler of music. Last week he sampled and remixed a classic tune that has charted for over 3000 years – the lie that Jews are evil and conspire to control the world for their own gain. This song was performed acapella in the time of the Pharaohs, Babylon and Rome, went acoustic with The Spanish Inquisition and Russia’s Pale of Settlement, and Hitler took the song electric. Kanye has now helped mainstream it in the modern era.
Lies are an important part of all discrimination, and this one is no different. When well crafted, they create the illusion that the action is just, that the bigot is “punching up” at the victim. It’s critical to antisemites, who must explain why they are attacking a people that comprise less than half of one percent of the world’s population. Not a fair fight, numbers wise. But if the Jews are ultra-powerful because of secret evil plots, well, the argument is, it must be fair and ok.
The silence from leaders and corporations when it comes to Kanye or antisemitism in general is dismaying but not surprising. What is new and sad, is the fear Jews have about speaking out in their own defense.
Why is a group that has historically been brave and unreserved in its fight against antisemitism so quiet on Kanye?
Because of the emergence of a second lie – one that is at the center of what we call Antisemitism 2.0. It is brilliantly crafted, fast becoming part of mainstream thinking, and puts Jews is a terrible philosophical corner. That lie goes as follows:
If you support Israel’s right to exist, you are a racist.
If you are a Jew, you support Israel’s right to exist.
Therefore, if you are Jewish, you are a racist.
As leaders of this company (a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian), we feel duty bound to say to all of you this is a pernicious, terrible use of false logic. It marries very well with the first “punching up” lie that all Jews are connected by conspiracy. And it is working, because many Jews are scared to speak up in defense of their religion, or Israel, for fear of being labelled racists. It is no more true than saying that if you support Palestine’s right to exist, you must be an antisemite.
For proof of how quickly a protest of Israel’s policies can jump to antisemitism, look no further than last week’s outrage at Wellesley College. The school is a historical bastion of liberalism and civil rights. But last week its newspaper editorial board saw fit not only to condemn Israel, but actually publish a MAP of Jewish places of worship, organizations and business in the area so that they could be targeted for protest – or worse. This would not be shocking from Neo-Nazis, but Wellesley?
The three of us want to make our position on this very clear.
• We support Palestine’s right to exist.
• We support Israel’s right to exist.
• Both nations represent a dream and an ideal for their peoples – one of safety, freedom, and prosperity.
• Both ideals are worthy of protection, even though we have significant objections to the policies of the governments of both nations.
• Objections to a nation’s government do not constitute grounds for discrimination against that nation’s citizens or supporters.
• We uniformly reject any assertion that we, our colleagues, or anyone else is bigoted or racist based on their support for the sovereignty and existence of any country, all of which have flaws.
If you hear or encounter the perpetuation of these intolerances and falsehoods, please let us know. It is totally unacceptable. And to those who are afraid to use their voice, hopefully this encourages you to do so.
Asif, Modi, Scott