Israeli-born Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi and pro-Israel mega-donor Sheldon Adelson recently teamed up to recruit NBA stars for an anti-BDS promotional jaunt to Israel and Sports Illustrated is all over it, without mentioning the anti-BDS angle.
The SI article “Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi get muddy in the Dead Sea,” consists of a few fun in the sun tweets from Casspi, the Sacramento Kings and local press, the Sacramento Bee.
We can do that too:
Best friends at the Dead Sea ? https://t.co/jvmF1FhLva
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 28, 2015
Gives a fresh face to blackwashing now doesn’t it? The promotional trip, an idea likely cooked up during Adelson’s secret anti-BDS mega-donors summit in Las Vegas last month, condemned by human rights organizations as “the moral equivalent of fundraising to preserve apartheid in South Africa, or Jim Crow in the United States” has thus far gotten lots of press mentioning teammates DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Caron Butler, Chandler Parsons, Tyreke Evans, Iman Shumpert and Washington Wizard Alan Anderson, “in an effort to shine light on the dangers of the BDS–boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.”
Dave Zirin has a biting article up at The Nation over the recent much touted trip. An Open Letter to the NBA Players Traveling to Israel serves as a double whammy. The letter, initially addressed to Rudy Gay, opens stating Israel’s “policing practices are going global and jeopardizing the safety of communities that you have pledged to defend” and raises questions the Casspi/Adelson junket has co-opted black NBA players in an effort to drive a wedge between freedom for Palestine and the #BlackLivesMatter movement:
On December 12, you were one of several Sacramento Kings players to wear an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during warm-ups. The shirts were worn to commemorate the last words of Staten Island’s Eric Garner and protest his death at the hands of the New York Police Department. It was a brave act, a link in a chain, which aligned some of the NBA’s biggest stars with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Of course, lethal police brutality has been directed at black Americans for as long as there have been police. But the #BlackLivesMatter movement has emerged out of a dramatic spike in this violence. Roughly 400 people were shot and killed by police over the first five months of 2015, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the average of the past decade. Those killed are primarily black and brown, as police departments have outfitted themselves in military fashion. Finding justice for those killed has proven to be a near impossible task.
This epidemic of killings has been aggravated by the influence of Israeli police practices on US policing. Since 9/11, police chiefs and high-ranking officers from across the United States—from Ferguson to New York City—have traveled to Israel for training in the arts of suppression. As Ali Winston reported, “[a]t least 300” chiefs from across the country have gone to Israel for these workshops. Former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer called Israel “the Harvard of antiterrorism” after one all-expenses-paid trip. The NYPD, which took the life of Eric Garner and broke the leg of NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, now has an office in Tel Aviv.
Since 9/11, Israel has turned its repressive capabilities into an exportable commodity. It instructs on surveillance, crowd control tactics, and psychological operations like keeping lights on police cars at all times. It’s these kinds of tactics that provoked thousands of Ethiopian Jews to protest police brutality in Israel this year under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter, only to be met with tear gas.
The direct connection between the Israeli military and American police repression has birthed a new solidarity between #BlackLivesMatter activists and those fighting for Palestinian rights. Earlier this month a “Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine” was issued and signed by people like Angela Davis and my personal hero, professor Robin Kelley…….
But it turns out Rudy Gay never got on that plane. No explanation has been forthcoming. Zirin contacted Gay’s agent, Alex Saratsis, who was “seething.” Saratsis did not give a reason why Gay skipped the trip, and according to Zirin:
upset that it had been widely disseminated that Rudy Gay was a part of delegation
Understandably so. It’s a must read which has now been updated, again.