Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Kyrie Irving Condemned by Jewish Groups After Promoting Antisemitic Movie

Update November 3rd: The Brooklyn Nets has suspended Irving for at least five games, without pay; more here.

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Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving was under fire over the weekend for posting about a documentary that has been deemed antisemitic by many—while several groups, including watchdog StopAntisemitism, have spoken out against the National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar.

The 2018 documentary, titled Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, is based on a 2014 book of the same title by Ronald Dalton. The film advertises itself as an exploration of how the biblical identity of Black people has been covered up by Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Rolling Stone reported that both the movie and the book follow ideas that belong to “extreme factions” within the Black Hebrew Israelite movement that have been accused of being antisemitic, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic and even Islamophobic.

On Thursday, Irving—known for discussing conspiracy theories off the court—posted a link to the documentary on Twitter, sparking backlash from many, including the NBA and Nets team owner, Joe Tsai, as well as several Jewish organizations.

In a statement, executive director of StopAntisemitism, Liora Rez, told Newsweek: “Someone with Irving’s fame needs to make a more concentrated effort to not spread MORE hatred directed at the Jewish community. StopAntisemitism applauds the Nets and the NBA for taking a stand against Jew-hatred and hope that Irving can be educated to understand why posting this film is dangerous.”

“This film is filled with nauseating antisemitic tropes that can be easily dispelled and we want to know why Amazon and Google didn’t pull this revisionist history meant to harm Jews years ago?” Rez added.

Nets owner Tsai tweeted on Friday: “I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

Despite the backlash, including a public statement from the NBA, Irving defended his post, first on Twitter and then at a press conference Saturday evening.

“I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions,” he wrote on Twitter Saturday.

Meanwhile, Irving said at a press conference: “Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? So out of all of the judgment that people got for me posting, without talking to me, and then I respect what Joe [Tsai] said, but there has a lot to do with not ego or pride of how proud I am to be [of] African heritage, but also to be living as a free Black man here in America, knowing the historical complexities for me to get here.”

He added: “I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”

Dalton said in an emailed statement to CNN: “If Kyrie Irving or any Black Celebrity needs ‘back up’ to prove that we are the True Israelites … i am available to assist them on or off the camera so that the world can finally see and receive the TRUTH.”

The book’s author also said in a statement to Newsweek: “Negroes/Black Americans cannot be ‘Anti-Semitic’ because we are descendants of Noah’s son ‘Shem,’ from where the term ‘Anti-Semitic’ comes from. So calling me ‘Anti-Semitic’ is false and is a defamation of my character.”

“We are Free-Thinking Adults with the ability to watch a non-fictional movie or read a non-fictional book and determine if we want to believe it as being truth or a lie,” he added.

Another in support of Irving is controversial rapper Kanye West, who recently posted a black-and-white headshot of Irving on his Instagram with the caption: “There’s some real ones still here.”