Kyrie Irving responds to accusations of antisemitism in promoting film

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Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving on Saturday responded to accusations of antisemitism after the team and its owner condemned his recent social media post linking to a book and movie that have been described as antisemitic.

“I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs,” Irving wrote on Twitter. “The ‘antisemitic’ 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.”

Irving on Thursday shared a post which linked to a movie called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”

The movie, released in 2018, is based on a 2015 book of the same name, and the film’s description says it “uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel by proving the true ethnicity of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Sons of Ham, Shem & Japheth. Find out what Islam, Judaism and Christianity has covered up for centuries in regards to the true biblical identity of the so-called ‘Negro.’”

Rolling Stone published a story Thursday noting that the film’s director and narrator, Ronald Dalton Jr., says “schools don’t mention the involvement of the Catholic Church, Arab, East African, or Islamic slave traders,” or ‘the Jewish slave ships that brought our West African negro or Bantu ancestors to slave ports owned by [Jews].’”

The Rolling Stone story also noted that the film and book flirt with and traffic in antisemitic tropes, such as a suggestion that anti-Black racism can be traced back to Jewish texts.

“Western Education and Religion tries to teach the world that blacks are cursed with their skin color by the Curse of Ham/Canaan,” the film says, per Rolling Stone. “This is also taught in European Jewish documents and in the teachings of the Talmud book in Judaism. Some can say that it established the base for black racism even before the KKK.”

Nets owner Joe Tsai on Friday expressed disappointment in Irving, adding in a subsequent tweet that the issue was “bigger than basketball.”

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Tsai tweeted. “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.”

In a statement, the team also condemned Irving’s post.

“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech.” it said. “We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue.”

For Irving, this recent episode comes after the Nets guard in September shared an old clip of Infowars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones talking about the “New World Order” to his Instagram story. Jones earlier this month was ordered to pay $965 million in damages to families of victims in the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting as damages after promoting for years the lie that the massacre was a hoax.

Irving, who has averaged 29.6 points through five games with the Nets this year, missed 53 games last season because of his refusal to get vaccinated, which made him ineligible for home contests because of New York City’s vaccine mandate.

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