(JTA) — When Kyrie Irving’s Dallas Mavericks came to Salt Lake City on Monday to face the Utah Jazz, Rabbi Avremi Zippel knew he had to be there.
Zippel, his brother Chaim, their father Benny and their friend Moshe Nigri — all of whom attended Monday night’s matchup — are Chabad rabbis who work at the Hasidic movement’s Utah outpost in Salt Lake City. Avremi is a huge Jazz fan, and he wanted to send a message to Irving, the NBA star who was suspended in November 2022 after he promoted an antisemitic documentary that denied the Holocaust and initially refused to apologize. He later apologized following an eight-game suspension.
The episode still stung Zippel, so the quartet of rabbis secured courtside seats and held up identical signs reading, “I’m a Jew and I’m proud,” with a Star of David replacing the “o” in “proud.”
“Some of the things that Kyrie said about the Jewish community and about Holocaust denial were vile and disgusting,” Zippel told The Salt Lake Tribune. He did not respond to Jewish Telegraphic Agency requests for comment on Wednesday.
Kyrie Irving playing in the SLC tonight.
With everything that happened this morning, I thought it’d be appropriate to give him a welcome.
Stay tuned… pic.twitter.com/khs8CkxqDs
— Avremi Zippel (@UtahRabbi) January 2, 2024
An arena guard snapped the rabbis’ picture and Jazz owner Ryan Smith greeted them. At first, Zippel said, the signs did not appear to upset anyone — including Irving, who complimented the message and showed the rabbis his Star of David tattoo.
“He comes by, he looks at the sign, and he says, ‘Nice. I’m a Jew, too,’” Zippel told the Tribune, adding that Irving’s response bothered him. Irving — who isn’t Jewish but has said he has Jewish relatives — may have been echoing the Black Hebrew Israelite claim that African-Americans are the true Jews. But Zippel said he wished Irving a happy new year and moved on.
But moments later, according to Zippel, Irving’s tone changed: As the Dallas guard dribbled the ball up the court, he yelled to the rabbis, “Don’t gotta bring something like that to the game.”
During the next timeout, a security guard approached Zippel’s group and checked their tickets. Then another guard told them to put the signs down, according to Zippel’s account. At halftime, a Jazz staffer told them that Irving had complained to security.
On Tuesday, the Jazz said in a statement that Zippel’s signs violated the policies of the team’s arena, the Delta Center, meant to ensure that “games can be played without distraction and disruption. No matter where someone is in the arena, if a sign becomes distracting or sparks an interaction with a player, we will ask them to remove it.”
The statement added, “The issue was the disruptive interaction caused by usage of the signs, not the content of the signs.”
Zippel said he had checked the arena’s regulations before the game and did not think that his group had violated any rules. And he disputed that his signs had caused any disruption.
“The Jazz seemed to fully acknowledge that we said nothing to Kyrie, [but that] Kyrie walked over, saw the sign, and chose to comment on it,” Zippel told the Tribune. “And so this idea that if you have signage that sparks interaction with a player, we’re going to ask you to take down that sign, I’m curious where that precedent leads to; I’m curious where that goes, how broadly that can be applied?”
Zippel added in a post on X that “there was one person, in a building of 18,000+, that was triggered” by his signs.
“Why that bothers him so, to the point that it sparks an interaction, should be the real question anyone is asking,” he wrote.
The Jazz, who celebrate home victories by playing “Hava Nagila” over the arena’s loudspeakers, defeated the Mavericks 127-90. Irving, whose team recently changed Jewish owners — from Mark Cuban to Miriam Adelson — scored 14 points.
Newly released documents from the Deschênes Commission show Canada’s reluctance to prosecute Nazi war criminals
The release of formerly classified documents from the 1986 Deschênes Commission—which investigated how Nazi war criminals entered Canada after the Second World War—reveals greater details about why the government was reluctant to prosecute them once they were in the country, says David Matas, the lawyer who represented B’nai Brith Canada at the inquiry. Canada released […]
South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government
Dozens of South African immigrants to Israel protested against their former country’s government on Friday, standing with their new home against political and legal attacks from South Africa’s ruling ANC party, highlighted by accusing Israel of “genocide,” last Thursday in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
“The demonstration is not against South Africa or its people, but against its disgraceful government. I am proud to stand here as an Israeli, but I am ashamed of the government of my homeland, for stooping so low. It is a danger to Judaism,” said David Kaplan, an attendant of the event.
Former Knesset member Ruth Wasserman Lande, who was raised in Cape Town, South Africa before moving to Israel for military service, living in Israel since, added “Justice is with us, the ruling party of South Africa has sold its soul to Iran.”
The protest in Ra’anana in central Israel comes a few weeks after Israel was forced to stand trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against charges of “genocide” in its current defensive war against Hamas in Gaza. The charges were filed by South Africa’s government, a noted friend of Hamas leadership and outspoken critic of Israel and the Israeli government.
In South Africa’s case against Israel, the country alleges that the IDF is acting “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”
The suit came as both countries are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, passed after the Holocaust and with the goal of creating proceedings to ensure no genocide like what happened to the Jews of Europe occurs in the future.
Israel said South Africa was acting as “the legal arm of Hamas,” and called the charges “baseless,” especially as the country has been noted to take unprecedented steps to protect civilians in the war. Furthermore, the war began after Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, when they invaded southern Israel, murdering more than 1,200 and taking hostage over 240.
The ICJ refused to grant South Africa’s wish of calling for an immediate ceasefire, but nevertheless ruled to investigate the genocide charges and called on Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of [genocide].”
Even this past week South Africa continued its attacks, calling for the defunding of Israel, with Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor saying “This necessarily imposes an obligation on all states to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions.”
The post South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Robert Kraft Antisemitism Nonprofit to Air Super Bowl Ad Featuring Associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), a group created by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, will air its first Super Bowl commercial when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 11.
An estimated 100 million television viewers will see the commercial, which features Dr. Clarence B. Jones, a former legal adviser of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones, according to FCAS, helped King draft the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on Aug. 28, 1963.
“I know I can speak for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when I say without a doubt that the Civil Rights movement (including the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Acts) would not have occurred without the unwavering and largely unsung efforts of the Jewish people,” Jones said in a press release issued by FCAS. “With hate on the rise, it is as important as ever that all of us stand together and speak out. Silence is not an option. I’m glad that I’ve lived long enough to partner with Robert Kraft and FCAS to continue to spread the message to the widest possible audience — the Super Bowl.”
This year’s Super Bowl commercial mark’s FCAS’ biggest push to promote awareness of antisemitism since its founding in 2019. Last year, the nonprofit launched a $25 million multimedia campaign, which asked supporters to use the “Blue Square” emoji available on iOS devices in their social media posts.
FCAS has undertaken numerous other initiatives to address rising antisemitism.
In March 2023, it announced a partnership with Brandeis University, which will include a student fellowship program for undergraduates, conferences featuring leading experts on antisemitism, and collaborations with K-12 administrators. Additionally, Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Jewish Leadership Program will expand to include “Kraft Scholars,” who will participate in new online degree and certificate programs that will train them to respond to crises caused by antisemitic incidents.
Kraft, who led the remarkable transformation of the New England Patriots from a second tier club to an annual Super Bowl contender and winner of six such titles in under twenty years, founded FCAS after being awarded $1 million through Genesis Prize, an honor given to successful members of the Jewish community. FCAS focuses most of its resources on social media, aiming, it says, “to stand up against racist and violent rhetoric aimed at the Jewish people through the most accessible and most powerful avenue of information in the world.”
In a statement, Kraft, expressed hope for this latest campaign and praised Dr. Clarence Jones as an emblem of his FCAS’ highest aspirations.
“The work Dr. Jones has done over the course of his entire life and career is the embodiment of FCAS’ mission to build bridges and stand up to Jewish hate and all forms of hate. In the time we have spent together and through his work, I have become a huge fan of Dr. Jones, and I am proud to spotlight all that he has done for our nation,” he said. “With this ad, we hope to continue to spread Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and equality at a time in which the country needs it mist most, and our goal is to reach a wide audience of people and inspire all Americans to stand up together, arm in arm, and fight this horrific rising hate.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.