If Black NBA Players Can Fly to Israel on a Republican Billionaire’s 747, Can They Support #BlackLivesMatter at Home?


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.

Zirin wrote that since 9/11, Israel has turned its repressive policing into “an exportable commodity,” with tactics such as surveillance, psychological operations and crowd control, which have led thousands of Ethiopian Jews to protest Israeli police brutality under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter, to which they were met with tear gas.  The writer also connected the dots between the #BlackLivesMatter movement and those fighting for Palestinian rights, and the military and police repression in Israel and America that joined the two.  Angela Davis and other Black activists have signed a statement in solidarity with Palestinians, and a delegation of racial justice groups traveled to Palestine. A delegation of Palestinian students also visited Black organizers in cities across the U.S.

“Omri Casspi is by all accounts a great teammate and friend. But his country’s policing practices are going global and jeopardizing the safety of communities that you have pledged to defend,” Zirin added. “Here is hoping you read this and here is hoping you return home clear that everything you stand for, everything that compelled you to wear that shirt on December 12 for Eric Garner, puts you on the other side of the barricades of Sheldon Adelson.”
While Zirin makes a strong case as to why these Black players should not have flown to Israel on Sheldon Adelson’s 747 to do his and Casspi’s bidding, there is a larger issue begging for discussion.  While Omri Casspi used his network, including Adelson, to fight the BDS movement and make the trip to Israel a success–all with the blessings of the NBA top brass–the Black players who dared to wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts were chastised by fans and sportscasters.
Just to take it a step further, imagine what these players and other Black businesspeople could accomplish if they had greater allegiance to the Black Lives Matter movement, and put their money where their mouth is.
Black NBA players with multimillion dollar contracts who are scolded for speaking out on injustice, yet are given permission slips to fly to another country to serve someone else’s racist political agenda, are not free men.  They are high-priced slaves.  With over $1 trillion in buying power, Black America has far more power and potential than it realizes. If only these NBA stars, and by extension Black people in general, would open their eyes and connect the dots.

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