(JTA) – A Canadian Football League (CFL) team has signed a player who tweeted anti-Semitic messages even after being fined in 2015 for doing so.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders signed lineman Khalif Mitchell last week, drawing criticism from a Canadian Jewish group.
“We are deeply troubled that Mitchell is continuing to spread messages of hate against the Jewish people,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “Clearly, Mitchell has not learned from his past mistakes. We have engaged with the CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders and they have assured us they are investigating.
In May 2015, the CFL fined Mitchell, a Virginia native, for sharing anti-Semitic posts on Twitter. One of his posts included a link to a YouTube video that called the Holocaust “The Greatest Lie Ever Told.”
The following month, Mitchell was released from the Montreal Alouettes.
But Mitchell has since called Jews “devils posing as God’s people” and referred to late Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel as a “thief of the holy people” on Twitter, according to a July report. He has also made derogatory comments about people of Chinese descent, according to the Toronto Sun.
CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said Thursday in a statement that the organization would monitor Mitchell closely and that any further comments “will result in his immediate dismissal.”
On Thursday, Mitchell called reactions to the tweets “far-fetched” and claimed he was researching his own “Hebrew Semitic” heritage. He said his mother and father are from the “tribes” of “Juda” and Benjamin, respectively.
“I just think a lot of the reaction was based off a lot of misinterpretations about myself that were far-fetched,” he said. “A lot people look at me as someone the media portrayed as an anti-Semitic type of person. All I was doing was finding my own Hebrew Semitic backgrounds and my own source of where I’m from.”
Mitchell’s Twitter account has since been made private.