This summer was a busy month for the Israeli army and October will be a busy month for the army’s friends in the U.S. They are holding fundraisers at two leading NBA venues and on Long Island with a leading NY rabbi. Say the Friends of the IDF: “Their job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them. Help us support Israeli soldiers.”
First, Dave Zirin reports at the Nation that the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team will be playing two exhibition games against NBA teams, first in Cleveland October 5, then in Brooklyn two days later. And the Friends of the IDF will be staging a fundraiser before each game. Zirin:
Pertinent to all of this seems to be that “Subprime Dan” Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the founder of Quicken Loans, is a massive financial supporter of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces. They even gave him an award.
Tsvia Thier, an Israeli citizen now living in New York, … plans to be a part of whatever protest assembles outside the Barclays Center on October 7th. She said to me, “Israel dropped thousands of pounds of weapons on Gaza. More than 2,000 people died. More than 500 children were killed. There has been no justice for this. We cannot allow for these games to go forward without bearing witness…as if these criminal acts did not just take place. Our memories cannot be that short.” Thier was on her way to a meeting of the group Jewish Voice for Peace to raise plans to protest when I spoke with her.
It is not just Thier and others who are unable to separate these games from Israel’s summer war on Gaza. It is the NBA. Before the Brooklyn game, the league signed off on a “VIP celebration” at the Barclay’s Center for Maccabi Tel Aviv hosted by an organization called Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). According to the press release, “FIDF has arranged for 12 IDF soldiers wounded during the Operation in Gaza to take part in the event.” (For people who want a full accounting of the death and destruction that the Gaza War wrought, see the United Nations report here.)
Here’s that protest, next Tuesday.
If you can’t get to that fundraiser, well, on October 21, the Friends of the IDF will be on Long Island, honoring a rabbi, Howard Stecker of the Temple Israel in Great Neck. You can read the rabbi’s thoughts on Gaza here.
— Rabbi Howard Stecker (@rabbistecker) September 5, 2014
P.S. Zirin notes that the NBA has a long history of supporting Israel, and he asked the NBA when it will have a Palestinian basketball team come play in the U.S. You can see the league’s lame response at the link; but it goes to show, the more pressure people put on these rather elemental issues of equality, racism and diversity in the US discourse, the more progress our side will make. Because we’re the progressives…