After Pittsburgh Steelers’ Zach Banner made waves with a viral video in which he urged the Black and brown community to uplift the Jewish community, the offensive tackle called on the NFL to focus more attention on anti-Semitism.
Changing his Twitter profile picture to the “Stronger Than Hate” graphic with a Jewish star that was circulated after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October 2018, Banner called the image a “simple, but strong representation of my squad.”
“But before I go to bed, I want to personally ask @NFL for more attention to this situation,” Banner tweeted. “Help put this group of people at ease after a crappy week!”
I’m gonna leave this up thru the weekend. Simple, but strong representation of my squad.
But before I go to bed, I want to personally ask @NFL for more attention to this situation. Help put this group of people at ease after a crappy week!
-Zach “mensch” Banner pic.twitter.com/cCt3bWSo1a
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) July 9, 2020
He then signed off as “Zach ‘Mensch’ Banner” — a title that several Jews, including “How to Fight Anti-Semitism” author Bari Weiss have called him over the week.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) July 9, 2020
Banner made his video in support of the Jewish community in response to Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who posted falsely-attributed Adolf Hilter quotes claiming that “the Jews will blackmail America.” He told fans that he did so “to transition from the incident, and move forward as a community.”
“There’s a common misbelief that among Black and Brown people — and I know this from growing up and I’ve heard it and I’ve listened to it — that Jewish people are just like any other white race,” Banner said. “You mix them up with the rest of the majority and you don’t understand that they are a minority as well.”
After getting emotional about the Tree of Life shooting, which occurred during his first year on the Pittsburgh home team, Banner went on to say, “We need to understand that Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times.”
The video has now been watched over 600,000 times.
In appreciation of Banner’s stance against anti-Semitism, Jews have been donating to the offensive tackle’s charity, B3 Foundation, which empowers student leaders in underprivileged communities through annual initiatives in partnership with local schools.
I just made a #donation to @ZBNFL @B3Foundation in #appreciation of his moving words against anti-semitism. Please join me in supporting his important work done empowering student leaders! Thank you Zach!
— Erica N. Miller (@ericanmiller) July 8, 2020
“On behalf of all us at @B3Foundation, we are so moved by and grateful for the outpouring of support today. Thank you for joining in our mission,” Banner tweeted. He also discovered the significance of the number 18 in the Jewish faith, as a number of Jews have been donating that amount. “For my fellow newbies: the Hebrew letters that spell chai (meaning living) add up to 18,” he tweeted.
Btw, on behalf of all us at @B3Foundation, we are so moved by and grateful for the outpouring of support today. Thank you for joining in our mission.
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) July 9, 2020
The next morning, Banner felt compelled to challenge the NFL again to stand out against anti-Semitism.
“I’m not going to lie, the lack of empathy from my brothers and the NFL P.A. toward the DeSean Jackson situation this week and our Jewish friends and fans – most importantly fans – and the Jewish community is bullcrap. It’s horrendous,” Banner said. “When one of us does something dumb and makes a mistake like that, we need to be able to hold each other accountable not only via text, and not only via ourselves, but publicly. Because the Jewish community right now is pissed. They’re mad. Because it just seems like we don’t care.”
He then thanked the Jewish supporters for donating to his foundation after “I put my neck out there for you guys.”
“But at the same time, keep that same energy moving forward because I don’t want to feel like I was used,” Banner concluded. “Let’s lift each other up. Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter – and so does the Jewish community.”