Black Hebrew Israelites Chant “We Are the Real Jews” in Support of Kyrie Irving

November 23, 2022
Members of the Black Hebrew Israelites demonstrate outside the U.S. Capitol on November 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A group of Black Hebrew Israelite protesters can be seen chanting “we are the real Jews” and “time to wake up” in support of NBA star Kyrie Irving on November 20.

The chanting occurred in front of the Barclays Center, the home of Irving’s current team, the Brooklyn Nets. The protesters were a part of Israel United in Christ, an affiliate of the Black Hebrew Israelites, according to ESPN. It was Irving’s first game back after serving an eight-game suspension; Irving had shared a link to an antisemitic movie and refused to apologize for it, prompting the suspension.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted that the chanting amplified “a troubling antisemitic trope with dangerous potential.” “We cannot allow this supremacist ideology to spread and gain greater acceptance,” they wrote.

Writer and policy analyst Avi Mayer tweeted, “’Jews will not replace us’ and ‘We are the real Jews’ are two sides of the same antisemitic coin. No surprise former neo-Nazi and KKK leader Tom Metzger said the Black Hebrew Israelites are “the black counterparts of us.”

Jaylen Brown, a star on the Boston Celtics, quote-tweeted a video of the protesters with the words, “Energy,” before later clarifying that he had thought the protesters were members of a fraternity expressing support for Irving and was unaware that they were actually Black Hebrew Israelite members. “Me being proud of that support [for Irving] and being proud of our community for doing that does not mean I endorse or celebrate some of the things that were being done or being said,” Brown told ESPN. He does not plan to remove the tweet. Brown and Irving are both vice presidents of the National Basketball Players Association.

The day before his return, Irving told SNY that he is not antisemitic and “deeply” apologizes for sharing a link to the film in question. “I just really want to focus on the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made within the Jewish community,” he said. “Putting some type of threat, or assumed threat, on the Jewish community, I just want to apologize deeply for all my actions for the time that it’s been since the post was first put up. I’ve had a lot of time to think, but my focus initially, if I could do it over, would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives, brothers and sisters.”

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