“Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread,” Julian Edelman told Meyers Leonard this week after he used the phrase “kike b**ch.”
By Ebin Sandler, World Israel News
After the the Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard called his gaming opponent a “f***ing kike b**ch” during a Twitch “Call of Duty” livestream, Jewish NFL star Julian Edelman made an overture on social media, offering to host the NBA player for a Sabbath meal.
“So we’ve never met, I hope we can one day soon,” wrote the Patriots wide receiver. “I’m sure you’ve been getting lots of criticism for what you said. Not trying to add to that, I just want to offer some perspective.”
“I’m down in Miami fairly often. Let’s do a Shabbat dinner with some friends. I’ll show you a fun time,” added the NFL standout, who has won three Super Bowls.
This is not Edelman’s first offer to serve as a bridge when fellow professional athletes express or promote anti-Semitic sentiments.
In a high-profile episode last year, Edelman reached out to Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson after the latter posted quotes attributed to Hitler about “white Jews” and plans for “world domination.” Jackson later said he regretted the Hitler references.
In response, Edelman invited Jackson to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with him.
In his message to Leonard this week, Edelman said he “[got] the sense that you didn’t use that word [kike] out of hate, more out of ignorance.”
“Most likely, you weren’t trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment,” he continued. “That’s what makes it so destructive. When someone intends to be hateful, it’s usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread.”
Prior to Edelman’s invitation, Leonard posted online, “While I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.”
Leonard added, “I am now more aware of its meaning and I am committed to properly seeking out people who can help educate me about this type of hate and how we can fight it.”
Leonard’s employer, the Miami Heat, said it “condemns the use of any form of hate speech” and put the center on indefinite leave during an NBA-run investigation of the incident.
“The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong, and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise,” read a statement from the Heat.