Politico

‘Silence is complicity’: Biden calls out antisemitism amid Kanye West’s Hitler comments

President Joe Biden on Friday called on political leaders to reject antisemitism “wherever it hides,” just a day after the rapper Ye, better known as Kanye West, went on a tirade praising Adolf Hitler and Nazis.

“I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure,” Biden said in a tweet. “And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.”

Ye’s Twitter account was suspended for violating the platform’s rules against “incitement to violence” late Thursday after he posted an image of a swastika depicted inside a Star of David. The suspension also came hours after Ye unleashed a series of antisemitic remarks during an interview with the far-right provocateur Alex Jones, including comments praising Nazis and saying he saw “good things” with Hitler.

Asked whom Biden was specifically talking about in his tweet condemning antisemitism, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday that “I don’t think it matters who in particular,” and that what the president was trying to say was that “this type of antisemitism” needed to be called out.

“We need to be very, very clear and condemn that, and that’s what you’re going to continue to hear from this president,” Jean-Pierre said during a gaggle with reporters aboard Air Force One.

But others who are close to the White House framed the president’s tweet as an effort to combat political forces being elevated by former President Donald Trump, who dined with Ye and the white nationalist Nick Fuentes shortly before Thanksgiving.

“Biden is the single most important figure for the American Jewish community, fighting the scourge of antisemitism fueled and legitimized by his predecessor,” said Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America and a former adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris. “Were it not for Biden running for president to combat hate and redeem the soul of America, there would be even more extremists emboldened by Donald Trump.”

Ye’s recent behavior has also led to some GOP condemnation of the rapper, whom Republicans have previously celebrated for his embrace of Trumpism. Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, one of the few Republican Jewish members of Congress, called Ye a “deranged antisemite” in a statement, and the Republican Jewish Coalition condemned Jones’ interview with Ye, calling on conservatives “who have mistakenly indulged Kanye West” to make clear he is a “pariah.”

Sam Stein contributed to this report.

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