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Israeli ambassador praises Brooklyn Nets for suspending Kyrie Irving

The eccentric basketball star has been mired in controversy over a video he shared on Twitter that many say is antisemitic.
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

The controversy surrounding American basketball star Kyrie Irving and antisemitism has captured the attention of the Israeli government. 

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan praised the Brooklyn Nets last night after the team suspended Irving. 

“The Nets are showing no tolerance for hate,” tweeted Erdan. “We can’t pick and choose when we want to stand against injustice. Kyrie hopped on the trend of being antisemetic [sic] & was put in his place quickly.”

What happened: The controversy began last week when Irving, who plays in the NBA, shared a video on Twitter titled “Hebrews to Negroes.” The movie propagated the theories of the so-called Black Hebrew Israelites, who believe that Black Americans and not Jews are the real “children of Israel” referred to in the Bible. The movie is easily obtainable on Amazon. 

Some Black Hebrew Israelites have been accused of hatred toward Jews. An associate of the movement was responsible for the deadly 2019 shooting at a kosher grocery store in Irving’s native New Jersey. 

On Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League, which fights against antisemitism, released a statement saying that Irving had agreed to donate $500,000 toward anti-hate initiatives. 

The controversy continued, however, when Irving refused to answer whether he is antisemitic. 

I can’t be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” Irving told reporters in an apparent reference to the video. 

His comments prompted the Brooklyn Nets to suspend Irving for a minimum of five games. 

Following the suspension, Irving apologized on Instagram.

“I posted a Documentary that contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibly for my actions,” he said. “To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain.” 

The Israeli consulate in New York said it "welcomes" Irving's apology. 

"The Consulate General of Israel in NY welcomes Irving’s apology in recognition of the real damage his actions have caused, but the Nets’ decision is also a timely reminder that no one gets a free pass for hate," a consular spokesman told Al-Monitor today. 

"In light of the ongoing wave of antisemitic attacks and recent threats against Jewish houses of worship, we hope Irving and all those in positions of influence think more carefully about the dangers of spreading conspiracy theories that are likely to incite hatred against one of the most targeted minorities," he added.

The FBI said it identified a potential threat to synagogues in New Jersey yesterday. 

Know more: There are some African communities that are Jewish or have Jewish heritage. The most notable are the Ethiopian Jews, many of whom have immigrated to Israel. Some Igbo people in Nigeria and the Lemba in southern Africa may also have Jewish origins. 

A small number of Black Hebrew Israelites immigrated from the United States to Israel during the 20th century, settling in the desert town of Dimona. 

Brooklyn, where Irving plays, has one of the largest Jewish populations in the United States.

Former Nets coach Amar'e Stoudemire, who is also a Black American, converted to Judaism in 2020 and obtained Israeli citizenship. Stoudemire called on Irving to apologize for the video he shared. 

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