Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Wednesday defended his decision to continue peddling a controversial antisemitic film which led to the suspension of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving after he shared the film on Twitter.
Speaking at the New York Times Dealbook conference and quoted by The New York Post, Jassy insisted the movie, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” doesn’t directly incite hate as the reason for the film remaining on the site.
“Trying to decide which content contains hate content to an extent of which we don’t provide access to customers is one the trickiest issues we deal with at the company,” Jassy was quoted as having told interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin. “We have hundreds of millions of customers with lots of different viewpoints.”
The CEO explained that content that “espouses hate” or “negative characteristics to people” is more straightforward and deserves to be banned, but this case is more nuanced.
“Inside the company we won’t tolerate hate or discrimination or harassment, but we also recognize as a retailer of content to hundreds of millions of customers with lots of different viewpoints that we have to be willing to allow access to those viewpoints even if they are objectionable and even if they differ from our own personal viewpoints if you’re going to serve that number of people,” said Jassy.
The film, which is based on a 2015 book of the same title, promotes antisemitic tropes and claims, among other things, that the Black Hebrew Israelites are the true descendants of biblical Israelites.
The movie also alleges a global Jewish conspiracy to oppress black people and that Jews were partially to blame for the African slave trade.
The controversial film made waves when Irving shared a link to it on his Twitter account in late October.
The Nets suspended Irving at the start of November for a minimum of five games for sharing the link and then refusing to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic views.”
Irving subsequently apologized in an Instagram post and also met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who later said that after meeting with Irving, he has “no doubt that he’s not antisemitic.”
The Nets lifted Irving’s suspension earlier this month and he issued an apology to the Jewish community before returning to play.
In the wake of the Irving incident, there have been calls on Amazon to stop selling the book and movie. The American Jewish Committee (AJC) called on Amazon to remove them, as did over 200 leaders from the entertainment industry.