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3 Nov, 2022 13:03

NBA star makes $500,000 gesture after anti-Semitism row

Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets will make donations after the player issued a controversial social media post
NBA star makes $500,000 gesture after anti-Semitism row

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving’s decision to post a social media link to an anti-Semitic film has resulted in the player and his team pledging to donate $500,000 each “toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate in our communities.”

Irving tweeted a link to ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America’ on Thursday last week, which was widely condemned for featuring anti-Semitic tropes.

Irving defiantly defended his right to make the post in a press conference on Saturday, and insisted he wouldn’t “stand down” from what he believes in.

Given the row has intensified, with protesters wearing ‘Fight Anti-Semitism’ T-shirts to his last match, Irving and his employers have attempted to put an end to the row by making the gesture – as revealed in a joint statement with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). 

“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in the statement. 

“I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. 

“I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light,” Irving added.

The CEO of the Nets and their Barclays Center home’s parent company BSE Global said that there “is no room for anti-Semitism, racism, false narratives or misguided attempts to create animosity and hate.”

“Now, more than ever, there is a pressing need to ensure education in these areas. We are putting our prior statements into practice because actions speak louder than words,” Sam Zussman added.

The CEO of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, said that “at a time when anti-Semitism has reached historic levels, we know the best way to fight the oldest hatred is to both confront it head-on and also to change hearts and minds. 

“With this partnership, ADL will work with the Nets and Kyrie to open dialogue and increase understanding.  At the same time, we will maintain our vigilance and call out the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes and tropes – whatever, whoever, or wherever the source – as we work toward a world without hate.”

Irving, the Nets, and the ADL have vowed to work together and make “an effort to develop educational programming that is inclusive and will comprehensively combat all forms of antisemitism and bigotry.”

“The events of the past week have sparked many emotions within the Nets organization, our Brooklyn community, and the nation,” their joint statement said. 

“The public discourse that followed has brought greater awareness to the challenges we face as a society when it comes to combating hate and hate speech. We are ready to take on this challenge and we recognize that this is a unique moment to make a lasting impact.” 

With Irving currently in the final year of his contract, the 30-year-old might not be in Brooklyn past the summer. 

The anti-Semitism row is just the latest in a string of controversies that have also taken in apparent support for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and a decision not to get vaccinated, which meant Irving missed most of the Nets’ home games last season due to a New York City Covid mandate.

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