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ILF Letter to Adidas Leadership Calling for Action Over Kanye West’s Antisemitism
23 rd October, 2022
Mr. Kasper Rorsted (CEO) and Mr. Thomas Rabe (Chairman),
Dear Mr. Rorsted and Mr. Rabe,
We write this letter to you on behalf of The International Legal Forum (ILF), a global network of over 4,000 lawyers and activists, committed to combating antisemitism in the international legal arena.
In 2016, Adidas introduced clauses into your contracts, preventing discrimination against LGBT athletes.
In 2020, you proudly joined the Black Lives Matter campaign, noting “We understand that the fight against racism is one that must be fought continually and actively. We must and will do better.”
And in 2021, you took part in the #STOPASIANHATE initiative, in solidarity with the American Asian community, which experienced a wave of racial hatred.
Yet, why is it that Adidas has remained silent in the face of the vicious antisemitism and Jew hatred, as expressed by Kanye West, one of your key strategic partners?
In 2016, Adidas signed a major deal with Kanye, calling it a “transformative new partnership” and “the most significant” ever created between an athletic brand and a non-athlete. At the time of the announcement, you called Kanye “a true creator who has the ability to see things others don't.”
However, in the last few weeks, Kanye has revealed himself for what he truly is – a creator of bigoty, racism and virulent antisemitism. Earlier this month, Kanye threatened to go “Death Con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” He has since gone on an unhinged antisemitic tirade, including blaming “Jewish media” for various grievances, saying “Jewish people have owned the Black voice” and that “the Jewish community, especially in the music industry, they’ll take us and milk us till we die.”
Sadly, there are many more such examples, of Kanye invoking age-old antisemitic stereotypes about Jews in the past month. These are all clear examples of antisemitism, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition, the most widely endorsed in the world, including by the United States and Germany, and he has been roundly
condemned the world over, with a number of leading brands actually dropping him as a result.
At a time of antisemitism rising to record highs across the U.S., including violence against Jews, there can be zero tolerance against such racial hatred.
Adidas is a company that prides itself on being a responsible and inclusive leader in the community and tackling all forms of hatred and discrimination. Your athletes and corporate partners the world over, such as Kanye, serve as role models to millions, especially youth. You cannot afford to stay silent here. Particularly as a German company, with a dark history during the Holocaust, it is all the more important and incumbent upon Adidas to speak out and take against against Kanye’s
This past week, Kanye claimed “The thing about me and Adidas is like, I can literally say antisemitic shit and they can’t drop me. Now what?”
Well, now Adidas has the chance to demonstrate that it will not in fact, allow Kanye to make such antisemitic attacks without consequence.
We call on you to end your silence, condemn Kanye’s obscene antisemitism and terminate your partnership with him. Furthermore, we urge you to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, as a sign of your commitment to tackling antisemitism and demonstrating you have a zero tolerance policy towards racial hatred against Jews.
The International Legal Forum (ILF) will be happy to work with and assist Adidas with respect to all aspects of the above recommendations.
Arsen Ostrovsky Nadav Steinman
Attorney & CEO, The International Legal Forum Attorney & Chair, The International Legal Forum