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Julian Edelman speaks on recent rise in antisemitism: "We're divided as ever right now as a country"

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BOSTON -- From Kanye West in popular culture, to Kyrie Irving in sports culture, some strong antisemitic messages have been thrust upon many Americans in the past month or so.

Julian Edelman, one of the most prominent Jewish players in NFL history, has been saddened to see it play out.

"My initial reaction is just being sad," Edelman said on "Inside The NFL" on Paramount+ on Tuesday. "Because it feels like we're as divided as ever right now as a country. It just doesn't come to my community, it doesn't come to other communities -- it's everyone as a whole. It just feels like we're separated right now."

Edelman said he's been concerned with some of the same rhetoric from Nazi Germany resurfacing in 2022, in addition to seeing troubling claims that the Holocaust did not happen.

"What people don't realize with the antisemitism that's been flowing off the charts is these are the same hate speeches and the same propaganda and the same feelings that people were saying in the 1930s and the 1940s in Germany, which led to the worst, most devastating time for the Jewish people," Edelman said. "This was all basically the same kind of speech that we're hearing the last few weeks. This is 2022. So it's just a very sad moment. It's just been very hard, especially as a Jew to hear these things that you heard back in the '30s and the '40s that transpired into the Holocaust. The same propaganda, the same thoughts, in modern-day time."

Denials of the Holocaust -- which were included in the film promoted by Irving on Twitter -- are particularly upsetting for Edelman.

"Yeah that's -- I mean, that's disgusting. It's very hard when you hear those things, because a lot of people were affected by that, especially in my community," Edelman said. "And when people go out and they put things out there and they don't realize that there's some little kid, there's some little girl, there's some grandma that was affected by this in a huge manner. It's sad and it's disgusting. But that's what we're here [for]. We're here to talk, because maybe they don't know that."

Edelman famously reached out as an ally to DeSean Jackson in 2020, after Jackson shared on social media a quote that had been incorrectly attributed to Adolf Hitler. Edelman offered to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with Jackson while also suggesting they have some "uncomfortable conversations."

Now two years later, Edelman hopes to push that same message on a larger group of people.

"The diversity in this country is what makes this country. And, it's awesome to be able to go, here's some of the best music that comes from a different culture, to see some of the best film that comes from a different culture, TV, food. I mean, all the great things about our community -- which, the United States is our community," Edelman said. "Not just, you know we all have our own little communities, but we're all one big community. We're in this together.

"In the locker room, you have a group of men with one common goal. And that's, I think, where we are separated as a community, as a United States, is we don't necessarily have one common goal. What's our common goal? My common goal is to try to grow. How do you grow? You have to learn, you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. My father always used to tell me: 'When you're green you grow. When you're ripe, you rot.' Meaning the day you're done learning is the day you're ripe, and that's when you rot. That's much like hate. People that are hateful, they feel like they have all the answers. But if they were to educate themselves, put themselves in an uncomfortable situation and learn about people, things that they don't necessarily agree with, you'd be shocked to see the similarities."

Edelman concluded his message by saying that this matter -- like most matters -- can be solved through love, not hate.

"Love. I mean, love is the answer to a lot of things," Edelman said. "As athletes, as media people, as some of the greats that I've been around, why were they so great? It's because they had a love for what they were doing. They had a love for the people in their lives. Love is a huge answer to a lot of things. Love, empathy. There's a lot of different people in this world, and what can bring them together is love."

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