Jewish NFL star Julian Edelman invited DeSean Jackson to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum after the Philadelphia Eagles wideout shared a string of "ugly" anti-Semitic posts to his 1.4 million Instagram followers.
"I'm proud of my Jewish heritage, and for me, it's not just about religion—it's about community and culture as well," Edelman said Thursday. "Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. It's rooted in ignorance and fear.… There's no room for anti-Semitism in this world."
Jackson on Monday shared a quote attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler saying that Jews will "extort America" in their "plan for world domination."
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"Hitler said, ‘because the white Jews knows that the Negroes are the real Children of Israel and to keep Americas secret the Jews will blackmail America," the quote reads. It comes from a fringe book titled The Hidden Treasure That Lies in Plain Sight 4: The Day of the Lord and the End of America, written by Jeremy Shorter, a self-described member of the Black Hebrew Israelites. The Southern Poverty Law Center in December 2019 listed 144 Black Hebrew Israelite groups as "black separatist hate groups because of their ant-Semitic and anti-white beliefs."
Jackson initially defended his post, saying "anyone who feels I have hate towards the Jewish community took my post the wrong way." He then reposted the quote, highlighting the portion in which Jews are accused of seeking "world domination." Jackson has also praised radical anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who has compared Jews to "termites" and called Hitler a "great man."
While the Eagles called Jackson's post "offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling" in a statement released Tuesday, a number of prominent athletes leapt to Jackson's defense. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson said the Eagles wideout was "speaking the truth" in an attempt to "educate people." Former NFL star Shannon Sharpe, now an analyst on Fox Sports, said it was "clear" from speaking to Farrakhan that the minister is not anti-Semitic. And fellow Eagles wideout Marquise Goodwin said he wished those criticizing Jackson "commented this much on a Black Lives Matter topic."
Other NFL players have responded to Jackson by voicing support for the Jewish community.
"I was here on the team a couple years ago during the synagogue shooting in this beautiful city of Pittsburgh, and we need to understand that Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times," Steelers offensive lineman Zach Banner said in a Wednesday video. "I want to preach to the black and brown community that we need to uplift [the Jewish community] and put our arms around them just as much when we talk about Black Lives Matter and elevating ourselves."
In his Thursday video, Edelman said he "didn't identify as Jewish" until later in life and revealed that he was called a "kike" during an NFL game in 2011. The New England Patriots star visited Israel in 2014, calling the trip a "once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Jackson has since apologized for his post, saying that his "intention was to uplift, unite, and encourage our culture with positivity and light" and that he "unintentionally hurt the Jewish community in the process."