How Kyrie Irving’s Alleged Antisemitism Disappeared

Kyrie Irving’s antisemitism scandal | Image Credit:
Kyrie Irving’s antisemitism scandal | Image Credit:

The Kyrie Irving case demonstrates how selective the Jewish community can be in denouncing antisemitism.

The Forward publishes a weekly email newsletter called “Antisemitism Notebook.” Subscribe here to get the whole issue sent to your inbox every Thursday.

How many of you recall seeing a DVD posted by one of the most well-known NBA players that said Jews had faked the Holocaust in order to deceive the world into thinking they were God’s chosen people?

The rapper Ye (previously known as Kanye West) made antisemitic remarks about the same time that Kyrie Irving was promoting “Hebrews to Negroes,” yet the reaction was only momentarily severe.

Irving alternatively played coy, claiming that sending the link wouldn’t amount to endorsing it, and he heightened tensions by implying that, contrary to what the film said, Africans were the true Jews. Irving denied that he could be antisemitic.

After being suspended, he gave to the Anti-Defamation League, continued to make divisive remarks, had his gift knocked down, ultimately apologised and went back to court, and then, months after being transferred from the Brooklyn Nets to Dallas, removed the social media post that included his apology.

As he leads the Mavericks to a postseason run, worries about his purported antisemitism have essentially vanished.

My colleague Louis Keene, who covered the initial dispute, clarified, “It doesn’t come up unless Kyrie Irving does something nice.” When it occurs, Irving’s hordes of youthful admirers will lament the previous attempts to cancel him.

Louis just wrote a post on his chats with Jewish Mavericks supporters who, like him or not, want Irving to be successful. Ben Calmenson, a 28-year-old who winced when Iriving donned a keffiyeh to a recent press conference but promptly justified it, remarked, “I’ve forgotten about the antisemitism.”

As he has done throughout the playoffs and once more against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, I still cringe when I see Irving triumph. However, I’m not suggesting that he ought to have been expelled from the league for showing a movie that suggests Jews are to responsible for the misery of Black people. For the most part, he comes out as a strange man who questions whether the planet is round or flat and doesn’t believe in vaccinations.

Louis told me, “There are a lot of young fans that view Kyrie Irving as an iconoclastic figure, and their susceptibility to conspiracy theories is just part of it.” They basically view him as a really kind guy who is a little bit different because “he’s incredibly philanthropic — even by the norms of professional sportsmen — and he’s quite outspoken on social issues.”

Kyrie Irving often decorates his shoes with handwritten messages, including “Liberation for all." | Image Credit:
Kyrie Irving often decorates his shoes with handwritten messages, including “Liberation for all.” | Image Credit:

The story of Kyrie Irving demonstrates how selective the Jewish community can be in denouncing antisemitism. Following Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy’s refusal to get the antisemitic video removed from its Prime Video service, the American Jewish Committee and other prominent groups soon abandoned their campaign.

The current state of left-wing students on prestigious college campuses is a source of worry. Irving may not have been asked about “Hebrews to Negroes” as quickly, and his social media post calling Israelis “murderous oppressors” might have drawn more attention, had he been playing basketball thirty years earlier, when Jewish organisations were focusing on how alleged “Black antisemitism” threatened American Jews.

Additionally, Mark Cuban, a man Louis referred to as a “Jewish community legend,” owns the basketball franchise that Irving plays for, which he is now selling to Miriam Adelson, the late Jewish casino billionaire and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson’s wife.

Irving is also well-known. There is some influence for Jewish leaders in Congress as well as on college campuses. However, it’s quite difficult to punish celebrities for remarks that are essentially considered impolite. Louis said, “They realised their authority is kind of restricted.”

I hope this essay was useful to you. I would want to ask you before you go to help the Forward’s nonprofit, award-winning journalism at this crucial period.

American Jews need reliable, independent journalism that is guided by fact rather than dogma more than ever. We don’t serve any political agenda; we serve you.

The Forward has taken down its barrier and added more resources to report live from Israel and across the United States on the effects of the conflict, the rise in antisemitism, and the demonstrations on college campuses at a time when other newsrooms are shuttering or making cuts.

You readers are the reason it’s all possible. Become a Forward Member to help us with our work and to stay connected to our journalism and your community.

  • Sen. Mark Warner vs. The Biden Administration: A Future Political Showdown?

    Sen. Mark Warner vs. The Biden Administration: A Future Political Showdown?

    As the 2024 presidential election looms on the horizon, the political landscape in the United States is poised for dramatic shifts and potential conflicts. Among the most anticipated developments is the emerging rivalry between Senator Mark Warner and the Biden administration. This article delves into the history, recent developments, and future implications of this political…

  • Minnesota Vikings – Historic Background and Modern Analysis

    Minnesota Vikings – Historic Background and Modern Analysis

    The Minnesota Vikings, a staple in the National Football League (NFL), boast a rich history and a passionate fan base. Since their inception in 1960, the Vikings have experienced highs and lows, producing legendary players, memorable moments, and a legacy of resilience. This article delves into the storied history of the Vikings, their evolution over…

  • Khyree Jackson Is A Rising Star in College Football

    Khyree Jackson Is A Rising Star in College Football

    Khyree Jackson has rapidly become one of the most talked-about names in college football. His journey from high school standout to college sensation is an inspiring story of talent, perseverance, and dedication. This article delves into Jackson’s background, his achievements, and what the future holds for this promising athlete. Early Life and High School Career…