NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar courageously penned an op-ed not just calling out antisemites in the black community, but also railing against the apathy toward hate in general.
“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” – president John F. Kennedy.
During the recent worrying rise in antisemitism around the world, the Jewish people have been blessed to have a few friends of tremendous courage who have stood up to be counted by openly condemning the oppressive hate language being used by well-known figures in sports, entertainment and other opinion-shapers.
Earlier in the month, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar courageously penned an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter, not just calling out antisemites in the black community, but also railing against the apathy toward hate in general.
It is certainly not surprising to me that Kareem would take such a strong stand. I have known him to be a humanitarian and a philanthropist, steeped in a long and enduring commitment to tolerance, acceptance and working tirelessly toward a better society. Just as he did during his storied basketball career, Kareem stands out above all in demonstrating the best example possible to those around him.
In 2017, while I served as Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, I hosted Kareem at an Iftar break-fast meal at my official residence during the month of Ramadan. He led various Jewish and Muslim leaders in a wide-ranging conversation promoting discourse, appreciation and mutual respect between local Jewish and Muslim communities.
It is not easy to take a stand, because as we unfortunately saw in Kareem’s case, there is always the possibility of backlash and becoming the focal point for additional scorn from the abuser.
Kareem has shown that standing against hate, intolerance and bigotry can transcend community, race or religion. As president Kennedy said, it does not show a lack of commitment to a belief or a set of ideals, it emboldens and strengthens them.
These are the basic values that are necessary for the progress and development of any society and civilization and are deeply rooted in all of the monotheistic religions. Kareem has stayed true to the values that he learned at home, on the court and in his life as a humanitarian and philanthropist.