(February 27, 2020 / JNS) Yeshiva University president Ari Berman slammed the “disrespectful” decision by two Brooklyn College volleyball players to kneel during the playing of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, at a recent match hosted by the university.
“It is unfortunate that some members of the opposing team disrespected Israel’s national anthem,” Berman told JNS. “We are proud to be the only university who sings both the American and Israeli national anthems before every athletic competition and major event. Nothing makes me prouder to be an American than living in a country where our religious freedom, our Zionism and our commitment to our people will never be impeded and always be prized.”
The two athletes, part of the Brooklyn College Bulldogs men’s volleyball team, kneeled on the ground when the song blared on the loudspeaker before the match against Yeshiva University’s Maccabees on Feb. 23.
The Brooklyn players were later identified as Omar Rezika and Hunnan Butt in social-media posts about the event.
A video of the athletes kneeling on the ground was posted on Facebook by Sarah Serfaty, a Stern College student watching from the stands inside Yeshiva University’s Max Stern Athletic Center.
The Bulldogs won the game 3-0.
While some social-media users claimed Rezika and Butt refused to shake hands with the Jewish athletes, Yeshiva University debunked that claim. The Jewish school wrote on Twitter that accusations about a handshake not taking place are “not accurate.” It added, “Please rest assured that if anything like that should ever occur we would handle it through the proper channels.”
A Brooklyn College spokesperson said the school “strongly condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and hatred,” and also defended the students’ rights under the First Amendment to kneel during Israel’s national anthem.
Neither team responded to requests for comments from JNS, though many social-media users took to the Bulldogs’ official Instagram page to call out the athletes for not showing sportsmanship during the game.
Their anti-Semitic actions were called “disrespectful” and “shameful,” and one Instagram user wrote to the team saying, “You should put out a statement either condemning the anti-Semitic actions of the two who knelt, or kick them off your team. If Bklyn won’t punish the players, the conf needs to,” referring to the CUNY Athletic Conference.
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
JNS is more than just another news website and syndication service. It is an organization devoted to nonstop reporting, and telling the truth about Israel and Jewish issues unburdened by the biases and institutional blinders that distort so much of what we read, hear and see about these topics elsewhere in the secular and even Jewish press.
At JNS, you get the facts about Israel and Jewish issues without the bias that so often tilts the argument against the Jewish state. JNS articles and columns are republished every week by digital outlets and print newspapers across the globe. But in the age of round-the-clock news coverage, advertising and syndication revenues are not enough to support our continued growth. We need your financial help to keep JNS on target as we continue our fair and accurate reporting.
Please help us take JNS to the next level with a tax-deductible sponsorship, either on a recurring monthly basis. Jewish News Syndicate is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.