Julian Edelman embraced his Jewish heritage early in his NFL career for people throughout the world to see. The Patriots receiver documented a trip to Israel in 2015 on his YouTube channel. Last season, he wore custom cleats with a Star of David logo on them as a part of the NFL’s "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign. They were later auctioned off to benefit the Israel Baseball Association.
This offseason, Edelman also revealed, in an interview with Los Angeles Magazine, that he’s been talking with a Rabbi in the hopes of having a bar mitzvah. On Thursday, Edelman also revealed that he had been targeted on the football field due to his Jewish heritage.
Last weekend, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted a quote on his Instagram page that was attributed to Adolf Hitler. Although the quote was fake, Jackson’s anti-Semitic post set off a firestorm of controversy. The receiver has since apologized, but on Thursday, Edelman, who’s one of a handful of Jewish players in the NFL, posted a video with a message to Jackson.
The Patriots veteran said he wants to meet with his fellow NFL receiver in the hopes that the two can talk about issues that both people of Jewish faith and African Americans deal with in this world. Edelman invited Jackson to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“I know he said some ugly things, but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation,” Edelman said. “I’m proud of my Jewish heritage, and for me it’s not just about religion. It’s about community and culture as well. I’m unusual, because I didn’t identify as Jewish until later in my life. Whenever I encountered hatred, it never really felt like it was aimed at me. It was only after I was part of this community that I learned how destructive hate is. Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. It’s rooted in ignorance in fear.”
Compassion, empathy and love.
Link to full video: https://t.co/pNkLg9s44Vpic.twitter.com/LspyPKzCC3
Edelman said he experienced “this hate in 2011” when he alleges he was called a Jewish slur on the field in an NFL game. In the end, he hopes to meet with Jackson and have a conversation about the issues people are facing.
“There’s no room for anti-Semitism in this world,” Edelman said. “Even though we’re talking about anti-Semitism, I don’t want to distract how important the Black Lives Matter movement is, and how we need to stay behind it. I think the Black and Jewish communities have a lot of similarities. One unfortunate similarity is that they are both attacked by the ignorant and the hateful. It’s really hard to see the challenges a community can face when you’re not part of it. So what we need to do is, we need to listen, we need to learn, we need to act. We need to have those uncomfortable conversations if we’re going to have real change.
“So to that end, DeSean, let’s do a deal. How about we go to D.C., and I take you to the Holocaust Museum, and then you take me to the Museum of African-American History and Culture? And then afterwards we’ll grab some burgers and we’ll have those uncomfortable conversations. This world needs a little more love, compassion and empathy.”
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