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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Two Brooklyn College Students Take a Knee While ‘Hatikvah’ Plays Before Volleyball Match at Yeshiva Univ.

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Two students on the Brooklyn College men’s volleyball team can be seen kneeling on one knee as Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” is played over speakers before a Feb. 23 match at Yeshiva University (YU).

The StopAntisemitism.org watchdog shared a video on Twitter of what had occurred, alleging that the two players who knelt on one knee declined to shake hands with Yeshiva players after the match.

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The Yeshiva University Observer, YU’s student-run paper, confirmed that the kneeling had occurred, quoting a YU student identified as Tehilla Teigman saying that she had felt like her heart was “ripped out of my chest.”

“I’ve never even seen one person show any disrespect,” she later added. “[T]hey listen carefully, they sometimes link their arms with each other … this was the first time I’ve seen it and it was really hard to see.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the gesture in a statement.

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“We condemn this flagrant display of anti-Semitism,” the statement read. “At a time of increased anti-Semitism in our country, including on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, we demand to know what steps Brooklyn College intends to take with regard to this display of anti-Semitism by members of its volleyball team. The ball is in their court.”

A spokesperson from Brooklyn College denied that the two players declined to shake hands after the game in a statement to the Observer.

“Brooklyn College strongly condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and hatred,” the spokesperson said. “The two students who knelt during the national anthem did not refuse to shake hands with players from the other team. Their kneeling is protected by the First Amendment.”

YU’s Twitter account also denied that the two players refused to shake hands.

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YU President Ari Berman told the Observer that the two Brooklyn College players “disrespected Israel’s national anthem. We are proud to be the only university who sings both the American and Israeli national anthems before every athletic competition and major event.”

The gesture became prevalent among some American athletes starting in 2016 to protest issues ranging from racism, police use of force and certain policies of President Donald Trump’s administration. “Taking a knee,” popularized by former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and spreading to more than 200 NFL players, sparked a backlash from the president. It also spread to soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey athletes and some high school and college programs. The NFL eventually issued a policy regarding player behavior during the anthem.

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