NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving returned to the court Sunday for the Brooklyn Nets against the Memphis Grizzlies. Outside Barclays Center, a large group of black Jewish Israelis gathered in support of Irving, who was removed from office on November 4, a week after he posted a film full of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on social media. The group represented Israel United in Christ, one of the best-known sects of radical Jewish Israelis that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group. Gathered handed out pamphlets anti-Semitic propaganda before and during the game.
When asked about this at the post-game press conference, Irving first asked the reporter to repeat the question, then interrupted, “I think it’s a conversation for another day. I’m here to focus on the game.”
When another reporter mentioned the band, Irving said, “Again, I’m only here to focus on the game.”
Recently, Irving has repeatedly discussed the power of his voice. Asked how he decides when it’s time to use his platform versus when he decides to only answer questions about basketball, Irving said, “I wish I could be on a platform where I can openly share my feelings without being harsh or labeled or deal with external perceptions that have nothing to do with me.”
On Sunday morning, Irving spoke to reporters for more than 13 minutes at the Nets’ training ground. He began with a statement that lasted over three minutes and then answered four questions.
Irving missed eight games, was described in an official press release as “currently ineligible for the Brooklyn Nets” and Nike suspended his shoe contract over an anti-Semitic scandal that began when he posted the film on social media. networks. And yet, between his defiant press conferences, his SNY interview on Saturday and in his two screenings on Sunday, he said relatively little about the content of the film itself.
However, the last question he answered at the gunfight was simple: The point of the film is that black people are the real Israelites from the Bible – what is your opinion on this?
“Well, that was the goal when I watched the movie to get a deeper understanding of my family heritage and where I come from,” Irving said. “And when I said I didn’t mean to cause harm, I meant it. It’s important to me to learn about the Lost Tribes of Israel, to learn about black history in a way that doesn’t demean anyone else’s history.”
Some context: The movie he watched, From Jews to Blacks: Awaken Black America, is full of lies and conspiracy theories about the Jewish people. It claims that “false white Jews” are trying to “extort money from America” because they “know that the Negroes are the real children of Israel” using a fake quote from Adolf Hitler (misspelling his name) as supporting evidence. Both the film and the book on which it is based feature unequivocal denial of the Holocaust.
As John Blistaine of Rolling Stone, Diana Moskowitz of Defector, Yaron Weitzman of Fox Sports as well as Drew Magary of SFGate As explained, the film promotes the beliefs of the radical faction of the Israeli Black Jews movement. Magari described it as “a fundamentally anti-Semitic work built on the belief that blacks are the real Jews and that modern Jews have stolen their identity and used it to rule the world.” (Not all Black Jewish Israelis “claim exclusive identity as the true chosen people of God and denounce Jews as impostors and thieves,” but this is the conviction of radical Jewish Israelis, according to Southern Poverty Law Center.)
In other words, if you want to learn about black history from an authoritative source, From Jews to Blacks: Wake Up Black America is not for you. This is why one of the stated preconditions for Irving to return to court was a meeting with the media and a clear statement that the film is harmful and untrue and he regrets sharing it.
So what did Irving really say?
In his final reply on Sunday morning, he continued that he is “proud to know where I come from” and that he is “not perfect” but has a “gift from God” to “bring people together in a way that they are far beyond the limits of things that I can understand right now,” adding that he “will continue to study life and continue to learn from his mistakes.”
He said that “it all started” because he was trying to “learn what anti-blackness is. And that led me to a documentary that ultimately explored and opened my mind to more than I can put into words right now. there are deeper conversations I would like to have about the origins of the Jews and the origins of more of our cultures here and abroad.”
Irving told SNY that he “wanted to share the link with all those who have been on the same journey and have been looking for their legacy as I have.” He said that “much of the documentary is about the lost tribes of our world, especially the blacks, and other races who are also searching for their history.”
Irving has repeatedly apologized for the pain he caused the Jewish community. He said he had to directly answer reporters’ questions before he was suspended. However, in the shootout, he also said that he was “rightfully defending himself” at the time and said that the team’s demands to return to the game “put me in a corner, like I was guilty of something and like I was this anti-Semite.” . this label that has been placed on me.” If Irving completely disavows the thesis “From Jews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” then he has not yet said so.
He has repeatedly said he grew up in a melting pot — he called it a “racially harmonious environment” on Sunday — in which he could speak openly without fear of “judgment of harsh criticism and repeal.” “, as he put it on Saturday.
At his post-match press conference on October 29, Irving said:
“I don’t cause controversy when it comes to religion. I cover all areas of life. You see it on all my platforms. I speak to all races, all cultures, all religions. yourself in what is Semitism, what is anti-Semitism, it’s really about getting to know the root words, where they come from, and understanding that this is an African heritage that also belongs to the people of Africa in it, whether we want to brush it off or not. So , claims of anti-Semitism—and “who are God’s original chosen people?” — and we get into these religious conversations, and it’s a big no-no. I don’t live like this.”
Before and after his apology, Irving consistently portrayed the film as a step in his educational journey, which unfortunately contained some antisemitism. He said this weekend that the film “generalized” the Jewish people.
From Saturday’s SNY interview:
“Unfortunately, this three-hour documentary contains anti-Semitic statements in terms of generalizing the Jewish people. I think this was unfair and is not the aspect of the post I wanted to focus on. The original post was a must have for all those who are looking for more information, more history and are able to interpret it in a way that they see it as progressive and learn from it.
“Again, it was just a post. I didn’t put context into it. I just watched the video to learn more about the legacy, to dive deeper into who I am. And unfortunately, I have hurt some people in the process. and I regret it. But the search for which tribe I belong to, where I come from, continues. And I continue this search with God, and wherever I am, I believe that there I should be.
And from Sunday’s availability:
“Generalization in society is one of the worst things we can do. And so I didn’t want a malicious generalization (about) the Jews. about that emotion, I think you should release it, and I did, and there were some things that were misinterpreted and misunderstood in those comments in those press conferences. from.”
Irving said he wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know that he is “here to listen and I am here to support you against any issues that may be troubling your community.” As Weitzman noted, three years ago in Jersey City, there was a shooting at a grocery store in a Hasidic neighborhood, motivated by the same anti-Semitic conspiracy theories found in From Jews to Blacks: Wake Up Black America. After Irving published the film, he soared in the Amazon ratings, and there was no shortage of people trying to talk to him about anti-Semitism.
While Irving didn’t say exactly who he dated during his suspension, he said Sunday he apologizes because “different people in the Jewish community” have given him “a deeper understanding of what’s going on and the impact that has been made.” and the pain it caused. was the cause.” If he understands, why didn’t he disown the film entirely?
Irving. However, there was one non-basketball question he answered after Sunday’s game. It was about whether he could file a complaint against his suspension. He didn’t rule it out.
“I have to leave this to my legal team and leave this to the warriors around me,” Irving said. “I am surrounded by strong people, men and women who will do everything they can to make sure I am protected and my family is protected and we…