Two volleyball players from Brooklyn College decided to kneel when the Israeli anthem started playing before a game against Yeshiva University earlier this week.
The game was taking place at Yeshiva University, a US college that prides itself in being the only campus to play both the American and Israeli national anthems at sports events.
The act of protest — by players Omar Rezika and Hunnan Butt — then sparked controversy across social media, with Israeli and zionist groups accusing them of antisemitism.
During today's Yeshiva U. vs. Brooklyn College basketball game, two players (Omar Rezika #13 and Hunnan Butt #15) decided to kneel during Hatikvah.— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) February 24, 2020
Post game, the same players refuse to shake the hands with the Yeshiva (i.e. Jewish) players.#Antisemitism at its finest! pic.twitter.com/9SoIoQNOJe
Ari Berman, the president of Yeshiva University, told the Observer: “It is unfortunate that some members of the opposing team disrespected Israel’s national anthem... 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.”
A Brooklyn College spokesperson, however, came out with a statement explaining that the players' kneeling "is protected by the First Amendment.”
Taking the knee has been widely used as an act of political protest ever since Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the American national anthem back in 2016, in solidarity with minorities who continue to be marginalised and mistreated in the US today.
Many politicians and Americans, however, oppose the act; including President Trump, who has called for NFL teams to "fire" the protesting players, who have been increasingly following in Kaepernick's footsteps, protesting racism, police brutality and other breaches of basic human rights.
Kaepernick had explained to The New York Times in response to the controversy that surrounded his decision to take the knee, that he is "not going to get up to show pride in a country that oppresses black people and people of color."