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A Kanye West impersonator wore a ‘Jewish Lives Matter’ shirt at NY Fashion Week. Why?

(New York Jewish Week) — The internet was flummoxed over the weekend when a photo made the rounds on social media appearing to show Kanye West walking a New York Fashion Week runway wearing a blue shirt reading “Jewish Lives Matter.” 

Could it be that the rapper and fashion designer, who goes by Ye and last fall launched a stream of antisemitic comments, was engaging in teshuvah — Hebrew for repentance — just before the High Holidays begin on Friday?

Don’t hold your breath. The real West appears to be up to his usual antics — crashing a wedding over the weekend in Florence, Italy.

The man wearing the striking blue shirt on the runway Saturday night was actually a West impersonator named Baron Jay Littleton Jr., who goes by “The Kanye Clone” on social media and uses the name Baron Jay in real life.

Jay, who is based in Los Angeles, said it was his idea to wear the “Jewish Lives Matter” shirt while walking at a fashion show at the Conrad New York Downtown hotel in Tribeca for Creators Inc., a social media management company. The show featured the company’s creators and other invited guests.

Originally, Jay said the producers of the show asked him to wear a “White Lives Matter” shirt to recreate West’s viral moment from his own YZY SZN 9 fashion show for his Yeezy collection during last fall’s Paris Fashion Week. That shirt sparked a social media altercation with Sean Combs, the rapper also known as Puff Daddy and Diddy, that touched off West’s stream of antisemitic remarks. 

Jay asked to wear a Jewish Lives Matter shirt instead. 

Jay’s message, he said, was a literal one: “I wanted to convey a message that Jewish lives matter,” he told the New York Jewish Week. “My intention behind it is that each culture can rally around each other.”

All ethnicities matter,” he added. “Black lives matter, white lives matter.”

This was Jay’s first time publicly wearing the shirt, which he sells on his website along with other Yeezy-esque apparel and footwear. On the runway, Jay paired the shirt with loose black pants tucked into black leather boots. He also wore black sunglasses and a black baseball cap with the letters ‘YZS’ on the front, a spoof of West’s “YZY” brand.

“I just thought it was a genius concept,” Andrew Bachman, the CEO of Creators, Inc., told the New York Jewish Week.

“I thought, ‘Screw it, it’s good for a viral moment,’” added Bachman, who is Jewish. “Kanye West has made antisemitic marks, so taking someone who looks identical to Kanye West and making that statement is powerful and thought provoking.” 

Jay’s appearance as Kanye wasn’t the only part of the fashion show that made waves on the internet. Right after Jay walked, Fred Beyer, a YouTuber known for making outrageous prank videos, crashed the runway. Security tackled Beyer just moments after Jay departed, cutting short his time in the spotlight. 

Saturday night’s fashion show was not the first time Jay has imitated West: He told the New York Jewish Week that he has been impersonating the rapper for nearly two decades, since West released his debut album, “The College Dropout,” in 2004. 

“People hire me to do bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, corporate events, meet and greets,” Jay said. “Everywhere I go, I’m getting mistaken as Kanye West.” In fact, Jay appeared as a stand-in for West in the music video for Jewish rapper Drake’s 2015 song “Energy.”

The similarities between the two men don’t stop at looks. Both are 46 years old and hail from the Midwest — West from Chicago and Jay from Detroit. “We are like two different dimensions on the same earth,” Jay told the New York Jewish Week, adding that West has never contacted him about his videos and the two have never met.

After West went viral for his antisemitic outburst, he faced swift backlash, losing a lucrative partnership with Adidas and getting banned from Twitter until Elon Musk bought the platform. Jay said that he lost some gigs because venues did not want to associate with the rapper. 

When asked for his thoughts on Kanye’s recent words and actions, Jay said, “I would like to create a world where different races are wearing each other’s ‘Lives Matter’ shirts,” he said. “Black people wearing ‘Jewish Lives Matter; Jewish people wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’; Asian people wearing ‘Jewish Lives Matter.’”

Though West has used his massive influence to traffic in conspiracy theories, such as saying that the Holocaust did not happen and that “slavery was a choice,” Jay channels his Kanye-like appearance for causes he cares about. “I feel like because I look like Kanye West, I’m at an advantage to spread the message and to fill in the gaps that Kanye West is not able to fill in,” he said.

His day job is serving as the director of the eponymous Baron Jay Foundation, which he founded in 2002 with the aim of empowering underprivileged youth in the Los Angeles area, where he now lives. 

“I really am able to resonate with these kids more and get them to trust me because I look like Kanye,” he said. He said he puts the proceeds he makes doing gigs as Kanye West back into his foundation. 

For now, however, Jay is currently still in New York City, where he will perform Monday night in a “Jay-Z & Kanye West Hip-Hop Legends Tribute Show” at the 333 Lounge in Park Slope. 

On X, the platform previously called Twitter, a screenshot of the outfit is circulating from user Yaakov Langer, a Jewish podcaster whose tweet incorrectly stated that West is the one who wore the “Jewish Lives Matter” shirt. Users joked that the image seemed slightly off. 

This is Kanye East….” one responded. 

“That’s Kanye Ma’arav,” another said, using the Hebrew word for West. 

“I wish this was real,” a third said.

The post A Kanye West impersonator wore a ‘Jewish Lives Matter’ shirt at NY Fashion Week. Why? appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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US House Passes $95 Billion Ukraine, Israel Aid Package, Sends to Senate

House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks to members of the media at the Capitol building, April 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

The U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday with broad bipartisan support passed a $95 billion legislative package providing security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, over bitter objections from Republican hardliners.

The legislation now proceeds to the Democratic-majority Senate, which passed a similar measure more than two months ago. U.S. leaders from Democratic President Joe Biden to top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell had been urging embattled Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring it up for a vote.

The Senate is expected to pass the measure next week, sending it to Biden to sign into law.

The bills provide $60.84 billion to address the conflict in Ukraine, including $23 billion to replenish U.S. weapons, stocks and facilities; $26 billion for Israel, including $9.1 billion for humanitarian needs, and $8.12 billion for the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his thanks, saying U.S. lawmakers moved to keep “history on the right track.”

“The vital U.S. aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger,” Zelensky said on X.

It was unclear how quickly the new military funding for Ukraine will be depleted, likely causing calls for further action by Congress.

Biden, who had urged Congress since last year to approve the additional aid to Ukraine, said in a statement: “It comes at a moment of grave urgency, with Israel facing unprecedented attacks from Iran and Ukraine under continued bombardment from Russia.”

The vote on passage of the Ukraine funding was 311-112. But significantly, 112 Republicans opposed the legislation, with only 101 in support.

“Mike Johnson is a lame duck… he’s done,” far-right Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters afterward.

She has been a leading opponent of helping Ukraine in its war against Russia and has taken steps that threaten to remove Johnson from office over this issue. Greene stopped short of doing so on Saturday, however.

During the vote, several lawmakers waved small Ukrainian flags as it became clear that element of the package was headed to passage. Johnson warned lawmakers that was a “violation of decorum.”

Meanwhile, the House’s actions during a rare Saturday session put on display some cracks in what generally is solid support for Israel within Congress. Recent months have seen leftist Democrats express anger with Israel‘s government and its conduct of the war in Gaza.

But Saturday’s vote, in which the Israel aid was passed 366-58, had 37 Democrats and 21 Republicans in opposition.

Passage of the long-awaited legislation was closely watched by U.S. defense contractors, who could be in line for huge contracts to supply equipment for Ukraine and other U.S. partners.

Johnson this week chose to ignore ouster threats by hardline members of his fractious 218-213 majority and push forward the measure that includes Ukraine funding as it struggles to fight off a two-year Russian invasion.

The unusual four-bill package also includes a measure that includes a threat to ban the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok and the potential transfer of seized Russian assets to Ukraine.

Some hardline Republicans voicing strong opposition to further Ukraine aid argued the United States can ill afford it given its rising $34 trillion national debt. They have repeatedly raised the threat of ousting Johnson, who became speaker in October after his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was ousted by party hardliners.

“It’s not the perfect legislation, it’s not the legislation that we would write if Republicans were in charge of both the House, the Senate, and the White House,” Johnson told reporters on Friday. “This is the best possible product that we can get under these circumstances to take care of these really important obligations.”

Representative Bob Good, chair of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Friday that the bills represent a “slide down into the abyss of greater fiscal crisis and America-last policies that reflect Biden and (Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer and (House Democratic leader Hakeem) Jeffries, and don’t reflect the American people.”

But Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who carries huge influence in the party, on April 12 voiced support for Johnson and in a Thursday social media post said Ukraine’s survival is important for the U.S.

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Amid Increased Pressure, Hamas Leadership Reportedly Mulls Leaving Qatar

Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani makes statements to the media with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS

i24 NewsThe political leadership mulls moving its base of operations out of Qatar, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. It is understood the Gulf state is increasingly pressurizing the terror chiefs to accept a hostage-for-truce deal with Israel.

The report quoted an unnamed Middle Eastern official as saying the Hamas politburo chiefs were mulling a move to Oman.

“The talks have already stalled again with barely any signs or prospects for them to resume any time soon, and distrust is rising between Hamas and the negotiators,” the source was quoted as saying.

“The possibility of the talks being upended entirely is very real,” another Arab official told WSJ.

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Abbas Threatens Ties with U.S. After UN Membership Bid Veto

PA President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah, in the West Bank August 18, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Pool

i24 NewsIn a recent interview with the official WAFA news agency, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a stern warning, indicating that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would reassess its bilateral relations with the United States following Washington’s veto of a Palestinian request for full United Nations membership.

While Abbas has made similar threats in the past without following through, his latest remarks underscore growing frustration within the Palestinian leadership over perceived U.S. support for Israel and the ongoing conflict in the region.

In the interview, conducted in Arabic and later translated, Abbas criticized the US for its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He accused the Biden administration of siding with the occupation and failing to uphold international law. Abbas emphasized that while the world supports Palestinian rights, the US continues to provide unwavering support to Israel, including military aid that “contributes to the suffering of Palestinians.”

Abbas’s remarks reflect a deepening rift between the Palestinian leadership and the US, particularly over issues such as Israel’s annexation policies and the status of Jerusalem.

He lamented the US’s abandonment of its promises and commitments, particularly regarding the two-state solution and achieving peace in the region.

The PA leader also highlighted the significance of Jerusalem, emphasizing its status as a red line that cannot be crossed. While underscoring the city’s Islamic and Christian sanctities, Abbas did not acknowledge Judaism’s historical ties to Jerusalem.

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