New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others in the sports world condemn recent incidents of hate speech toward Jews — not just anti-Semitic comments by the music mogul formerly known as Kanye West, but also outside of a college football game in Florida on Saturday night.
A day after the NBA and Brooklyn Nets released disapproving statements in response to Kyrie Irving’s apparent support for an anti-Semitic film, other team leaders and athletes are speaking out against hate and bigotry, on and in outside the field.
At one point during the Florida-Georgia football game on Saturday night, the phrase “Kanye is right about the Jews” was thrown outside one of the TIAA Stadium end zones. Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a reference to recent anti-Semitic comments Ye has made on social media and in interviews – comments that caused him to lose partnerships with Adidas and several other companies.
The University of Florida and the University of Georgia issued a joint statement on Sunday morning condemning the hate speech on the stadium and “the other anti-Semitic messages that have appeared in Jacksonville”. The schools also said that they “together denounce these acts and all acts of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance. We are proud to be home to strong and thriving Jewish communities at UGA and UF, and we unite against hate.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said on social media his northeast Florida city is “made better because of its diversity. Those who spread messages of hate, racism and anti-Semitism will not be able to change the heart of this city or its people. I condemn these cowards and their cowardly messages.
And Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who play at TIAA Bank Field, said on social media that he was “personally appalled” by the rhetoric, calling it “hurtful and misguided”.
“It has to stop. I ask everyone to make it their mission to end ignorance and hatred,” Khan said. “Let’s get better.
Last year, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 2,717 incidents of harassment, vandalism or violence targeting Jews – the highest annual total since it began tracking such incidents in 1979. Recent incidents attacks come four years after the deadliest attack on American Jews, when 11 people were killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and just days before the controversial midterm elections in the United States
A nonprofit organization founded by Kraft went a step further by planning to run an ad during the Patriots-New York Jets game on Sunday that condemned anti-Jewish hate speech and encouraged non-Jews to speak out against anti-Semitism.
“Recently, many of you have spoken up,” said the 30-Second advertisement from the Kraft Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism. “We hear you today. We need to hear you tomorrow. There are less than 8 million Jews in this country. Fewer than those watching this ad. They need you to add your voice.”
The announcement, which was to air during the first quarter of the game, ends with the hashtag: #StandUptoJewishHate.
“I have committed enormous resources to this effort and promise to do more,” Kraft said in a statement. “I encourage others to join in these efforts. I hope this publicity will continue to enhance the national conversation about the need to speak out against hate of all kinds, and in particular to oppose Jewish hate.”
Also this week, Nets owner Joe Tsai said he was disappointed with seven-time All-Star Irving who appeared to support a movie Tsai said was “based on a book full of anti-Semitic misinformation” when he posted a link for the movie “From Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on Twitter on Thursday.
Nets coach Steve Nash said the organization “told Kyrie about it” but didn’t elaborate. The NBA also spoke out on Saturday, saying “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable.”
“We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring that such words or ideas, including anti-Semitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue to work with all members of the NBA community to ensure everyone understands the impact of their words and actions,” the league said.
Irving, however, responded in a post-game press conference on Saturday, claiming to believe in all religions and saying he was “not a divisive person when it comes to religion.” He added that he would “not give up everything I believe in”.
“Did I do something illegal? Did I hurt someone? said Irving. “Have I hurt anyone? Do I come out and say I hate a specific group of people? »
The Texas A&M football team changed the way they entered the field on Saturday night ahead of their 31-28 loss to No. 15 Mississippi. After coming out on Ye’s “Power” since 2012, the Aggies instead entered an instrumental of Childish Gambino’s “Bonfire.” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork criticized West’s comments earlier this week.
The fallout around Ye’s comments also includes Donda Sports, a brand management agency he founded. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Boston Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown have ended their associations with the agency, Donald and his wife, Erica, citing ‘shows of hatred and anti-Semitism ” from Ye.
The top-tier basketball team at Ye’s Donda Academy in California has also been affected, with the Los Angeles Times reporting on Friday that it confirmed four majors had dropped out of the school.
AP Pro football writer Mark Long, AP Pro basketball writer Brian Mahoney, and AP sportswriter Erica Hunzinger contributed to this report.
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Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press