Sunday, October 05, 2014

A protest coming to Barclays Center Tuesday, Oct. 7, when Maccabi Tel Aviv team plays Nets, honors Israeli soldiers

When, in April of this year, the Brooklyn Nets scheduled a home exhibition game with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the leading team in Israel and a Euroleague power, it was seen as part of the NBA's pattern of playing preseason games against top teams from Europe.

Now, in the wake of Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza this summer, which led to more than 1,000 (by the most conservative estimates) Palestinian civilian deaths, the Maccabi game Tuesday October 7 at the Barclays Center will draw protests.

(Follow the Wikipedia link above to an enormous number of sources regarding the contested details of the conflict, including alleged violations of international law and alleged use of civilians as human shields.)

There hasn't been a statement from the Nets, but they are selling "Hello Brooklyn" shirts in Hebrew, as shown in the screenshot at right.

Dave Zirin reported last week in The Nation, Are Gaza Protests Coming to the NBA Preseason?, how Israeli sports teams will be met by protests in Cleveland and in Brooklyn, just as in Europe, since, according to critics, "such spectacles 'normalize' the military occupation suffered by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank."

Those protesting include Palestinians and Israelis, part of Jewish Voice for Peace. Zirin also points to a “VIP celebration” at the Barclays Center for Maccabi Tel Aviv hosted by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), which will honor 12 wounded IDF soldiers, 

Zirin said the NBA should tell Maccabi "that they will be delinking these NBA preseason games from Friends of the IDF." The NBA did say it supports the Seeds for Peace  program, which "brings together Palestinian and Israeli kids to foster cultural understanding."

Zirin wrote a follow-up quoting a couple of politically active former NBA players (an unusual subset) and getting NBA to say it was not involved in the IDF reception.

On NetsDaily

One Nets fan on the NetsDaily blog wrote that he was organizing the protest:
And to answer your question, it was the VIP celebration that caused me to do so. I knew about the Maccabi game months ago, but after the massacre of 2,000 Palestinians and then finding out the soldiers were to be "honored" with no mention of the innocent lives lost in Gaza, I had to take action. The fact that I get to cheer the Nets on while doing so is just a bonus.
Scroll down from that link for some heated but civil debate.

On Facebook

The Brooklyn protest has a Facebook page, which as of this morning counts 176 people attending. The message:
Macabi Tel Aviv is NOT welcome on our courts! Following the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, join us as we protest Macabi Tel Aviv vs the New York Nets on Oct 7 at 6:30pm..
The group plans actions both outside and inside the arena.

In the comments, there's been both support and pushback, including the graphic at right. One commenter repeated a quote, also found in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland:
"Once again, this Palestinian group refuses to protest in the right place," said federation president Steve Hoffman in an emailed statement. "They should be protesting the terrorist leadership of Hamas that started the war this summer, prolonged the war this summer, and, in doing so, caused the death of its own innocent civilians."

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