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Thursday, June 13, 2024

UF, organizations respond to antisemitic message after Florida-Georgia game

The message was projected onto TIAA Bank Field

<p>TIAA Bank Field, the home stadium of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, also serves as host for the annual Florida-Georgia game. (AP Photo/John Raoux)</p>

TIAA Bank Field, the home stadium of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, also serves as host for the annual Florida-Georgia game. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

An antisemitic message was projected onto the exterior of TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville after the Florida-Georgia game Oct. 29.

The message, “Kanye is right about the Jews!!!” was a reference to the recent antisemitic comments made by Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.

Ye made antisemitic remarks repeatedly blaming “Jewish media” and “Jewish Zionists” for conspiring against him and the Black community during an interview on Revolt TV’s “Drink Champs” series that was posted and then removed Oct. 16. Ye has since been dropped by Adidas, GAP and other companies due to his comments.

Ye’s comments play into a larger narrative of antisemitic conspiracy theories pushed throughout history. Jacksonville’s Ye-related incident was the first outside of multiple antisemitic messages in California.

In response, UF and the University of Georgia released a joint statement condemning the message in Jacksonville. 

“The University of Florida and the University of Georgia together condemn these and all acts of antisemitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance,” the joint statement on UF’s Twitter account read. “We are proud to be home to strong and thriving Jewish communities at UGA and UF, and we stand together against hate.” 

The Southeastern Conference supported its schools’ statements, affirming it takes pride in the diversity of its campus communities.

“The SEC denounces all forms of hatred and intolerance,” the statement read.

UF Hillel, home to one of the largest Jewish student populations in the U.S., also condemned the projected message and ensured that UF Jewish students are free from antisemitism, discrimination and marginalization. 

Rabbi Jonah Zinn, executive director of UF Hillel, said he wasn’t at the game in Jacksonville but was alerted of the antisemitic act by students who sent him videos. 

“It’s shocking to see such hateful messages directed at Jews,” Zinn said. 

Mason Solomon, a 19-year-old UF political science and criminology sophomore, didn’t attend the game but was in Jacksonville tailgating around the stadium.

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“It was definitely quite terrifying seeing that one person that our generation looks up to is able to impact the conversation of Judiasim and antisemitism in our society,” Solomon said. “It just shows how easily hate can be prevented and how easily it can be spread.”

Solomon, a UF student senator who serves on the Student Senate Jewish Caucus, was someone who listened to Ye’s music and enjoyed it. Now, whenever he listens to his songs, he’s reminded of the harm the artist has done to the Jewish community. 

“As a Jew myself, it’s very hard to stand by and continue to support him or to turn a blind eye,” Solomon said. 

Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist released a statement condemning Gov. Ron DeSantis, who attended the game, for not publicly commenting on the antisemitism.

“But while antisemitism is spreading in our state, Governor Ron DeSantis refuses to condemn it,” Crist wrote. “Even when it’s broadcast on the side of a stadium he is in.”  

These messages come about two months after antisemitic messages were delivered to the front door steps of Gainesville residents in August. 

Other antisemitic messages were displayed in Jacksonville prior to the game Oct. 29, News4Jax reported. Two banners reading “End Jewish Supremacy in America” and “Honk if you know it’s the Jews” hung over an overpass in the city’s west side, just off of Chaffee Road and Interstate 10. 

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took to Twitter to condemn the actions and called those involved “cowardly.” Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, also released a statement about the weekend’s events. The Jaguars are the primary tenants of TIAA Bank Field. 

TIAA Bank, the organization that holds naming rights to the stadium, made a statement of its own on Twitter. 

“We are horrified by and condemn the hate speech committed at TIAA Bank Stadium last night and other acts of anti-Semitism so visible of late,” the statement read. “TIAA stands with the Jewish community and remains committed to inclusion and tolerance for all.”

Contact Brandon Hernandez at Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.

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Brandon Hernandez

Brandon Hernandez is currently the enterprise sports writer and sports podcast host for The Independent Alligator. He likes long walks on the sidewalk and watching basketball tape in his off time. You can find most of his work @BranH2001 on X and on The Courtside Podcast on Spotify.

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