After an electronic display bearing an antisemitic message appeared Saturday night at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., where Georgia and Florida played in an SEC rivalry game, the two college football programs and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan responded Sunday by condemning it.
The two schools issued a joint statement to say they “stand together against hate” after the electronic scroll appeared following top-ranked Georgia’s 42-20 win.
“We strongly condemn the antisemitic hate speech projected outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville after the Florida-Georgia football game Saturday night and the other antisemitic messages that have appeared in Jacksonville,” the statement read, also citing messages that were displayed Friday over Interstate 10. “The University of Florida and the University of Georgia together denounce these and all acts of antisemitism 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 stand together against hate.”
Kyrie Irving not apologizing for posting about film linked to antisemitism
The SEC lent its support, saying it “denounces all forms of hatred and intolerance. We take pride in the diversity of our campus communities and join the universities of Georgia and Florida as we stand together against hate.”
Khan echoed those messages and said in a statement released by the NFL’s Jaguars that he is “personally dismayed to learn of antisemitic rhetoric and messages that marred the experience Saturday.” Khan added: “I know this is not representative of our community, but it happened and it’s outrageous. It’s hurtful and wrong. It has to stop. I’m asking everyone to make it their mission to end the ignorance and hatred. Let’s be better.”
Later Sunday, an ad from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the Kraft Family Foundation and the Kraft Group’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism appeared during the first quarter of the game between the Patriots and New York Jets, encouraging people to speak out against hate speech.
Antisemitism became a flash point for the NBA over the weekend, when Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets responded in a combative postgame news conference Saturday to accusations of antisemitism after the team and owner Joe Tsai condemned Irving’s recent social media post linking to a book and movie that have been described as antisemitic.
Irving on Thursday shared a post that 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.’”
After the Nets’ game Saturday, Irving denied that he was antisemitic but did not apologize for his social media posts. Irving quibbled with the notion that he had “promoted” the film and book, asserting that he had merely “put it out there.”
“We’re in 2022,” Irving said. “History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody. I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion. I embrace all walks of life. You see it on all my platforms. I talk to all races, all cultures, all religions.
“My response [to the backlash] would be, it’s not about educating yourself on what Semitism is, what antisemitism is, it’s really about learning the root words of where things come from and understanding this is an African heritage that is also belonging to the people. Africa is in it, whether we want to dismiss it or not. The claims of antisemitism and who are the original chosen people of God, we go into these religious conversations and it’s a big no-no. I don’t live my way like that. I don’t live my life that way.”
On Friday, Tsai tweeted “that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic 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.”
Although it did not name Irving, the NBA released a statement Saturday saying: “Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions.”
On Friday, Irving tweeted that he “meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs.”
“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.”