Christian school launched by Kanye West closes following rapper's anti-Semitic remarks

Kanye West performs onstage during his 'Jesus Is King' album and film experience at The Forum on October 23, 2019, in Inglewood, California.
Kanye West performs onstage during his "Jesus Is King" album and film experience at The Forum on October 23, 2019, in Inglewood, California. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA

A private Southern California Christian school launched by Kanye West is reportedly closing for the school year as the rapper has drawn much scrutiny for anti-Semitic remarks that Jewish advocacy organizations warn have been embraced by extremist groups.

In an email obtained by ESPN Thursday, Donda Academy principal Jason Angell said the decision to close came from West but assured the school would reopen in September 2023 and "begin afresh." 

"Our leadership team will be working diligently to assist all families during this transition, ensuring that every scholar has what they need to succeed in their next community in a prompt and gracious manner," Angell wrote.

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Another email obtained by TMZ and signed by the "Parents of Donda" called for students to return to the academy earlier, suggesting the school's reopening plans may not be set in stone. 

Also, the Donda Academy's boys' basketball team was disinvited from three prominent high school basketball showcases: the Hoophall Classic, Kentucky Play-By-Play Classic and the City of Palms Classic. 

Both the Hoophall Classic and Kentucky Play-By-Play classic stated that Donda Academy would no longer participate in their events, and the third basketball event replaced the academy with The Patrick School in New Jersey on Thursday. 

The Donda Academy's boys' basketball team had three top-50 recruits for 2023, according to ESPN. Seniors A.J. Johnson and Javonte Taylor ranked in the Top 50 alongside Robert Dillingham, who ranked No. 8 in the ESPN 100. 

"Kanye's words and actions violate our values as a company and a country, and what we seek to ensure at all of our events — a spirit of diversity, sportsmanship, inclusion, equity and mutual respect," Scholastic Play By Play Classics founder Jeremy Treatman said in a statement. 

"While we are firm in our reasoning for this decision, it does not diminish our heartache and regret for Donda's hardworking student-athletes who will lose out the most as a result of Kanye's actions." 

The rapper, who appeared to liken himself to Moses after launching the academy earlier this year, has received criticism in recent weeks for anti-Semitic statements he's made in interviews and on social media.

The remarks have prompted various brands to sever ties with West, who legally changed his name to "Ye." Additionally, Jewish advocacy groups have raised concerns about how known anti-Semitic groups have glorified West's comments. 

Earlier this month, West shared a screenshot of a text with rapper Diddy on Instagram, saying he would use him "as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me."

In a now-deleted Oct. 8 tweet, West declared: "I'm a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I'm going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE."

Instagram locked West out of his account, and Twitter banned the rapper for his other anti-Semitic statement. 

In an interview earlier this month with The New York Post's Page Six, West discussed how multiple brands are refusing to associate with him due to his comments about Jewish people. The day the interview was published, JP Morgan Chase gave the rapper a November deadline to find a new bank to hold his company Yeezy. 

"Hey, if you call somebody out for bad business, that means you're being anti-Semitic," West said. "I feel happy to have crossed the line of that idea so we can speak openly about things like getting canceled by a bank." 

During an Oct. 19 interview with NewsNation's Chris Cuomo, West claimed that the "underground Jewish mafia" is targeting him, and he doesn't believe in the term "anti-Semitic."

Following the interview with Cuomo, Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, argued there was no defense for West's comments. The conservative commentator said that the rapper is spouting "Der Stürmer-type anti-Semitism," referring to the Nazi-era newspaper.

"It's just pure unbridled anti-Semitism," Shapiro said. "There's just no other way to put it, there's no other way to read it. End of story."

West's comments come at a time when violence against Jews reached record levels in the United States. The Jewish advocacy organization Anti-Defamation League reports2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism were reported in 2021, the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979.

ADL stated in a post that West's comments "have been embraced by antisemitic extremist groups." 

"During an October 16 sermon for the Nation of Islam's annual Holy Day of Atonement commemoration, Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad referenced Ye's recent remarks," the post reads. 

"Extremist Black Hebrew Israelite sects also praised Ye over the weekend for helping spread their teachings to more people. Other extremist groups, including White Lives Matter and the Goyim Defense League, have leveraged Ye's comments to further their own agendas and inspire new propaganda campaigns."

This week, the German apparel giant Adidas cut off ties with West, who has partnered with the company since 2013 on his popular Yeezy sneaker line. Adidas will halt its Yeezy line immediately. According to Forbes, the Adidas deal accounted for $1.5 billion of West's net worth.

"Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company declared in a statement. "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."

As the Jewish News Syndicate reported, the Israel-based International Legal Forum, comprised of over 4,000 lawyers and activists worldwide, called on Adidas to cease its support of West. 

In recent years, West has been vocal about his faith in Christ and even held "Sunday Service" gospel events. West's gospel album won every faith-based category at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards: Top Christian Artist, Top Gospel Artist, Top Christian Album, Top Gospel Album, Top Christian Song and Top Gospel Song.

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