E-commerce giant Amazon is facing public pressure from Jewish groups to remove an antisemitic book and its companion film promoted by Brooklyn Nets Guard Kyrie Irving on social media.
Irving posted a tweet on Oct. 27 — which has since been deleted — with a link to the documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, which includes Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories about Jews.
The Anti-Defamation League and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets sent a letter to Amazon Friday to address the “deeply and unequivocally antisemitic” documentary and related book at the heart of the Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving’s suspension
“The book and the film are designed to inflame hatred and, now that it was popularized by Mr. Irving, will lead directly to the harm of Jews,” the letter said, according to The Washington Post.
“These views aren’t different viewpoints on history, they are outright antisemitic hate,” the letter noted. “They amplify longstanding antisemitic tropes about Jewish power, greed, and claims that Jews control the media.”
In response, Amazon said it was working with the A.D.L. to explore adding a disclaimer to the film, according to The New York Times.
Cory Shields, an Amazon spokesman, told the outlet the potential disclaimer would appear on the documentary’s main detail page, which viewers would see before buying or renting the film. A similar note potentially would be added to a page where customers could buy the book that the film is based on.
The book and companion film focus on the false idea that the true descendants of the ancient Israelites are modern-day African Americans and that today’s Jews fraudulently claim that ancestry. It also contains a series of other antisemitic claims, including Holocaust denial and the false allegation that Jews controlled the American slave trade, according to The Times of Israel.
The outlet noted as long as the film stays on Amazon’s platform, the company continues to collect half the purchase price, distributing the other half to the filmmaker.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC), one of the oldest Jewish advocacy organizations in the U.S., has launched a petition, urging Amazon to remove both the film and the book from their website.
“Amazon has a critical role to play in ensuring Americans do not consume hate-filled propaganda and misinformation,” the petition states. “We are grateful that, as recently as January of this year, Amazon removed more than twenty Nazi propaganda films and other antisemitic content to stop the spread of hate. We urge you to swiftly take action and remove this film and book from your platform.”
Ted Deutch, the CEO of the AJC, tweeted about the petition, writing “antisemitic content is now on Amazon’s bestseller lists.”
“The story is well known by now: Kyrie Irving shared antisemitic content on social media and has since been suspended. What’s not as well known: This antisemitic content is now on Amazon’s bestseller lists. Sign @AJCGlobal’s petition and tell @Amazon hate is not for sale.”
The story is well known by now:
Kyrie Irving shared antisemitic content on social media and has since been suspended.
What’s not as well known:
This antisemitic content is now on Amazon’s bestseller lists.
— Ted Deutch, CEO of American Jewish Committee (@AJCCEO) November 4, 2022
The fallout over Irving’s tweet linking the antisemitic material came in a wave. On Oct. 29, Nets owner Joe Tsai tweeted about Irving, adding, “This is bigger than basketball.”
“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Tsai wrote. “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.”
This is bigger than basketball
— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) October 29, 2022
Irving at first, defended his right to post what he wants on social media during a contentious postgame interview session on Oct. 29.
“We’re in 2022. History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion,” Irving said during a tense postgame press conference. “I embrace all walks of life.”
The NBA put out a statement over the weekend that didn’t name Irving but denounced all forms of hate speech. Fans wearing “Fight Antisemitism” shirts occupied some courtside seats at the Brooklyn-Indiana game on Oct. 31, a day after he took down the tweet.
On Wednesday, Irving said he opposes all forms of hate, and he and the Nets announced that they would each donate $500,000 toward groups that work to eradicate it. Silver then issued a new statement calling on Irving by name to apologize, and Irving refused to give a direct answer when asked Thursday if he has antisemitic beliefs.
Then on Thursday, the Nets suspended Irving, banning him without pay for a least five games after he refused to issue an apology.
“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify,” the Nets said in a statement.
“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets,” the statement continued.
Irving did finally apologize later in an Instagram post for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary.”
Then, shoemaker Nike announced it had parted ways with the basketball star Friday.
“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism,” the Beaverton, Oregon-based company said. “To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8.”
Irving has had a signature line with Nike since 2014.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone,” Nike said.
CBN News has contacted Amazon for comment. We will post it here if we hear back.
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