Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner on Wednesday tried to promote unity with the Jewish community in the aftermath of an antisemitism controversy surrounding Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Banner, 26, changed his Twitter profile picture to the popular “Stronger Than Hate” logo, which first debuted as a show of support for both Pittsburgh and the Jewish community following the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in October 2018.
Banner also shared the design in a Twitter post, writing, “I’m gonna leave this up thru the weekend. Simple, but strong representation of my squad. But before I go to bed, I want to personally ask @NFL for more attention to this situation. Help put this group of people at ease after a crappy week! -Zach ‘mensch’ Banner”.
Also on Wednesday, Banner shared a video on Twitter in which he got emotional while condemning antisemitism. From the balcony of his home in Pittsburgh, he admitted having trouble sleeping after hearing about Jackson’s social media posting of antisemitic quotes, attributed to Adolf Hitler, and praising of notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan.
“There’s a common misbelief among black and brown people — and I know this from growing up [in Lakewood, Washington] and I’ve listened to it — that Jewish people are just any other white race. … You mix them up with the rest of the majority and don’t understand that they’re a minority as well,” said Banner.
Banner choked up as he discussed the Tree of Life shooting, which took place during his first season with the Steelers.
He stated, “We need to understand that Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times. I’m not trying to get emotional right now. I want to preach to the black and brown community that we need to uplift [the Jewish community] and put our arms around them just as much when we talk about Black Lives Matter and elevating ourselves. We can’t do that while stepping on the back of other people to elevate ourselves. That’s very important to me and should be important to everyone.”
He concluded by saying, “Change your heart, put your arm around people and let’s all uplift each other.”
Meanwhile, Jewish actor Josh Gad said on Tuesday that he was not buying Jackson’s apology for his antisemitic social media posts.
The “Central Park” star wrote on Twitter, “My family were gassed, ripped from their homes, forced to work in camps and made to watch most of their families slaughtered. I find an ‘oops, you misunderstood me quoting ADOLF HITLER’ as not quite good enough. Sorry.”