NBA star Kyrie Irving is known for his support for the Palestinians, and in the past has even been accused of antisemitism, so it was not surprising that over the weekend, the controversial center expressed solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinians against the background of Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Irving appeared at the Dallas Mavericks game against the Milwaukee Bucks with a keffiyeh on his head, and also wore it during the press conference after the game, as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians.
Irving did not discuss his choice of attire, and the journalists on the scene also did not ask him any questions about it.
Since then, the Arab world has celebrated Irving’s gesture and commented on it extensively, especially against the background of the almost unanimous support for Israel among the NBA following the October 7 massacre.
❤️ NBA star KYRIE IRVING wears a keffiyeh in support of PALESTINE! pic.twitter.com/gVfZxWIg4K
— Jackson Hinkle (@jacksonhinklle) November 19, 2023
Irving’s strange tweet:
Tribe. Stay together no matter what. Chief Hélà
— Chief Hélà (@KyrieIrving) November 20, 2023
Dr. Omar Suleiman, a Muslim American imam who often shares negative social media posts about Israel, wrote about Irving: “How dare @KyrieIrving wear a Keffiyeh in support of the Palestinian cause! Doesn’t he know what it stands for?!” before adding: “Thank you Kyrie,” and showed pictures of Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela wearing keffiyeh.
Jackson Hinkle, another active social media user who frequently posts anti-Israel content, was also proud of Irving’s gesture, in another post on X that received millions of views.
On the other hand, of course, Irving received more criticism from Israel’s supporters, who mocked him and teased him on social media. Irving was once again portrayed as antisemitic, following the high-profile scandal he was previously involved in when he was punished by the Brooklyn Nets and suspended after advocating a film that spread false antisemitic theories.
It is believed in the US that Irving was under heavy pressure following his public support for the Palestinians, and the next day, he posted a vague statement on X: “Tribe. Stay together no matter what.” He signed the name he calls himself, Chief Hélà, (a name he received from a Native American tribe during a ceremony in 2018).
Kyrie Irving Palestinian keffiyeh pic.twitter.com/xCPO10neMj
— Bass (@BassAmorah) November 19, 2023
Australian-American basketball player Kyrie Irving wears the Palestinian keffiyeh in solidarity with the people of Palestine amid the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza.#GazaGenocide pic.twitter.com/lbSHxNZ0hI
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) November 19, 2023
Kyrie Irving’s history of support for the Palestinians
Irving, who converted to Islam several years ago, is a well-known supporter of the Palestinians. At the beginning of November, he shared a post indicating the number of dead in the Gaza Strip and wrote that he was grieving for everyone. In August 2023, he shared a photo from the funeral of the Palestinian Qusai Jamal Ma’atan, who was killed in the West Bank village of Burka near Ramallah during clashes with settlers.
In 2021, during Operation Guardian of the Walls, Irving said it was said to see what was happening and accused Israel of killing innocent children and babies.” He also posted a series of anti-Israel posts on social media in which he wrote that the IDF was shooting at Palestinians in Al-Aqsa, and defined terrorists as Palestinian freedom fighters.