Lawmakers circulate letter condemning Amazon over antisemitic video, book

The lawmakers urge Amazon to remove the antisemitic content promoted by basketball star Kyrie Irving.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

House lawmakers are circulating a letter condemning Amazon and urging the online shopping company to take down an antisemitic book and film promoted by NBA star Kyrie Irving, Jewish Insider learned on Tuesday.

The material in question, a book and film titled Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, shot to public attention after Irving linked to the movie on Twitter. The material is replete with antisemitic tropes, including Holocaust denial and extremist Black Hebrew Israelite ideology that alleges that present-day Jews are not really Jewish.

The letter, circulated by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), is expected to remain open for signatures through the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a source familiar with the letter. It is addressed to Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy and Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos.

“Your company’s decision to profit from the promotion of this dangerous hate speech has substantial real-world costs and consequences for the Jewish community and the greater society,” the letter reads, noting that the book and film have shot up in popularity on Amazon’s charts since Irving’s tweet.

The letter also quotes from Amazon’s own policies regarding review of films, which prohibit  “derogatory comments, hate speech, or threats specifically targeting any group or individuals.” 

“It is alarming that this antisemitic film and book would not immediately qualify as hateful content,” the letter reads. “Amazon should not amplify and profit from this promotion of hate. Pulling this hateful content from your offerings should be a value [judgment] we believe your company should be comfortable making.”

The lawmakers also urge Amazon to modify its search protocols so that users who search for Hebrews to Negroes are not led to similar content.

“​​Amazon has a unique and critical role to play in ensuring its customers do not consume hate- filled propaganda and misinformation,” the letter reads. “And as responsible corporate citizens, Amazon should certainly never profit from hate.”

The letter also criticizes Irving for promoting the film and for “his refusal to disavow its antisemitism.” Irving apologized on Sunday for promoting the film. The night he returned to play for the Brooklyn Nets, a Black Hebrew Israelite group demonstrated en masse outside the arena.

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