Kyrie Irving is an NBA player who stepped out of his lane on Thursday and tweeted a link to a movie called “Hebrews to Negroes” that critics claim is anti-semitic. The Rolling Stone, adding some context to what the film and book it is based on is about, reported that:
HOURS BEFORE ANOTHER Brooklyn Nets loss on Thursday, noted “free-thinker” and basketball player Kyrie Irving took to Twitter to boost a movie and book, Hebrews to Negroes, stuffed with antisemitic tropes.
The 2018 film was directed by Ronald Dalton, Jr., and based upon his 2015 book of the same name. A description for the film states that it “uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel,” while a similar one for the book reads, “Since the European and Arab slave traders stepped foot into Africa, blacks have been told lies about their heritage.” Both suggest Hebrews to Negroes espouse ideas in line with more extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and especially antisemitism.
Well, much like Kanye, Kyrie was quickly attacked, particularly after a press conference in which he refused to say he wasn’t anti-semitic, saying instead that it was impossible for him to be anti-semitic because of his people’s history, implying that he subscribes to some version of the Black Hebrew Israelite idea that blacks are the real Hebrews.
To be specific, he said, when asked to apologize “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”
Irving also said, when pressed about the tweet:
“I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and the fact that this has pinned me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions of whether or not I’m sorry or not about something I didn’t create and was something I shared, and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility, then that’s where I sit.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt was angered by that response and not only refused to accept Kyrie’s $500k donation to the ADL, but attacked him verbally, saying, on Twitter: “The answer to the question ‘Do you have any antisemitic beliefs’ is always “NO” without equivocation.”
And so the Nets suspended him, saying:
“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify.
“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
Irving, unlike Kanye, then bent the knee and apologized, saying in an Instagram post:
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize. I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti- semticism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all.”
He also, in that post, changed his tune on anti-semitism, saying that the movie “contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibly for my actions.”
NBA Commissioner Silver also jumped on the anti-Kyrie bandwagon Thursday, saying:
“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.”
Kanye West went on a Twitter posting spree on Irving’s behalf, first posting an image of the NBA player then following it up with other tweets about the Black Hebrew Israelite idea.
— ye (@kanyewest) November 3, 2022
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