Jewish-American professional wrestler David Starr delivered a politically charged promo via Twitter on Monday, bashing wrestling promotion Ring of Honor (ROH) and their owner, Sinclair Broadcasting, a month ahead of his world title match in Israel.
Starr is set to challenge ROH World Champion Jay Lethal for the title on April 21 as part of Israeli Pro Wrestling Association's (IPWA) "Passover Bash" event – the first time that the promotion's top prize will be defended in the country. However, the challenger held back few punches as he slammed ROH and Sinclair for what he perceives as a publicity stunt of letting "the little Jew-boy get a flight to Israel to wrestle for [the ROH World] Championship."
“Sinclair Broadcasting, you think you're doing me a favor by having me wrestle for your championship in the homeland?” Starr said in the video. He continued "It's not just a homeland for me because I'm a Jewish man. It's supposed to be the homeland for everyone… It's supposed to be a place that doesn’t deprive its citizens of basic civil human rights!"
He concluded the promo by saying that after April 21, a Progressive Jew would be holding the ROH World Championship.
On Tuesday, however, Starr removed the video from Twitter, however, news source Pro Wrestling Sheet was able to save the video on their website.
While Starr complied, he maintained that this is not a retraction – and would not apologize for his political views, implying on Twitter that Sinclair may have threatened to pull Lethal from the event.
While politically charged angles are nothing new in Professional Wrestling, Starr's comments reflect many common criticisms regarding the conservative Sinclair Broadcasting – who he explicitly referred to as a "right-wing extremist corporate propaganda machine." The telecoms conglomerate owns a significant amount of local news stations throughout the US and has engaged in controversial practices such as issuing mandatory "must-run" segments that express conservative sentiments.
His views on Israel, however, are more personal.
Starr, an American Jew, has long advocated liberal views in regards to both American and Israeli politics. Indeed, one of his monikers is “The Bernie Sanders of Professional Wrestling.” However, he has never been ashamed of his Jewish identity, as evidenced by his moniker “the Jewish Cannon” and his personal symbol – a modified D and S that resembles a Magen David – being visible on his ring gear and merchandise.
A professed Zionist, however, Starr feels that labeling all criticisms of Israel’s government as antisemitic not only acts as a means to silence oppositions, but it distracts from antisemitism on the Right. Antisemitism on the Left is often classified as opposition to the Israeli government, Starr pointed out on Twitter, but far-right antisemites “shoot up synagogues and call for the extermination of all Jews.”
He added, “I wonder which is more damaging to the Jewish community?”
Earlier this month, he took to Twitter, saying that the sitting government in Israel does not represent all Jews and that having issues with the government does not equate to denying Israel's right to exist. Suggesting that the sitting government does represent all Jews, Starr said, is antisemitic in itself.
And antisemitism is something that "The Jewish Cannon" has been very outspoken about.
In March 2016, Starr made headlines in an incident at a show with independent wrestling promotion Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), when he was continuously heckled by fans throwing change at him and shouting antisemitic slurs. Starr, who had recently been on a trip to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, grabbed the microphone and addressed the fans.
“It’s really cool that you throw change at me because I’m a Jew. If you ever f***ing do some racist s***t like that again, I will end you myself," he said.
In another incident in 2017, he called out another wrestler, Mathias Glass, on his Hassidic Jew gimmick, which Starr claimed was “the equivalent to black face.”
Starr is regarded as one of the most prominent talents on the Independent circuit and has nonetheless referred to his upcoming match against Lethal as a "historic championship match."
Despite the controversy, Starr is taking the resulting publicity and attention in stride. Indeed, several media sources and industry insiders have commented that the controversy has brought more attention from the international wrestling community to the upcoming "Passover Bash," with many now being far more invested in the match.
On Thursday, Starr announced that he was selling T-shirts inspired by the incident for a limited time, with 50% of the proceeds being donated to the charity Children of Peace.