Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Culture

Amazon CEO says he’ll still sell that antisemitic movie Kyrie Irving tweeted about

Removing ‘Hebrews to Negroes’ would leave out customers with ‘different viewpoints’

There was once a time when it was gauche to court the Nazi vote or take the antisemite’s dollar, but the head of Amazon just indicated that he takes more of a “customer is always right” approach to his business.

On Wednesday, CEO Andy Jassy, who is Jewish, told The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin that, when it comes to the fate of certain inflammatory titles, like the Kyrie Irving-promoted Hebrews to Negroes, the retailer has “to allow access to those viewpoints, even if they are objectionable,” Variety reported.

The reason being that Amazon sells to “hundreds of millions of customers with a lot of different viewpoints,” Jassy said at the Times’ DealBook Summit.

Deja vu.

Maggie Haberman’s Donald Trump book, Confidence Man, said the former president was reluctant to disavow David Duke because “a lot of these people vote.”

Is Jassy’s stance simply economically cynical or virtuous to a fault a la the ACLU’s defense of the KKK? Well, Jassy, who joined Amazon in 1997 and took over for Jeff Bezos last year, said that it’s really all just very complicated. Bumping Hebrews to Negroes would be less “straightforward” than 86-ing work that promotes violence or pedophilia. But that doesn’t seem straightforward either in a world where, to certain conservatives, anything involving drag queens is considered grooming and Quentin Tarantino’s work makes extreme violence look insanely cool. 

Hebrews to Negroes, which became a bestseller on Amazon after Irving’s tweet, is not objectionable because it promotes violence or pedophilia, but because it says that it’s a “lie” that “6 million Jews died in a holocaust [sic] during WWII,” that white Jews are impostors and that Jews orchestrated the transatlantic slave trade. There aren’t any instructions about how to kill Jews in it — most of the film is devoted to pseudo-history and composed of slides — but Mein Kampf didn’t exactly break that down either.

Speaking of Mein Kampf, that’s a title that Amazon continues to sell on Kindle, but, as Variety notes, its proceeds go to Jewish charities. (Apologies to the Hitler estate, who ran out the clock on the copyright anyway.)

But while one could defend selling Hitler’s manifesto because of its historical importance, it’s the rare Nazi exception on the internet marketplace, which still manages to host plenty of Nazi bands and merch and be overwhelmed by the moderation thereof. 

That said, Amazon was happy to remove almost two dozen Nazi propaganda films identified by Americans Against Antisemitism in January, and a few of those seemed to have merit for teaching about Nazi propaganda. Among the films the Wiesenthal Center identified were titles that contained historical context from academics, while others, like Jew Suss and Triumph of the Will, are of historical and cinematic significance.

The same just can’t be said for Hebrews to Negroes, which, according to our own Louis Keene, is a meandering mess of a lecture filled with falsehoods from a director-narrator who claims the movie was divinely inspired. 

It’s of interest now because Kyrie Irving tweeted about it (and later, after much waffling, apologized for tweeting it). Protecting diverse viewpoints is Amazon’s prerogative, but can the world’s biggest retailer really not earn a buck without accommodating conspiracy theorists — or worse? (I mean, is firing 100,000 people not enough to protect your bottom line?) 

If there’s a person who boycotts you for removing a movie with a fake Hitler quote, is that really someone whose business you want?

I guess that person’s money’s just as green as the next guy’s, his vote as valid, his curiosity as worthy of indulging. But Amazon could afford to be more curious about what happens when it sells things like this. Those “objectionable viewpoints” don’t appear out of nowhere, even if same-day delivery can make it seem that way.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.