Listen: NBA players on anti-BDS propaganda tour to Israel

On Monday, award-winning political sportswriter, author and broadcaster Dave Zirin wrote an open letter in The Nation to NBA players who are on a propaganda tour in Israel this week.

In an interview with The Electronic Intifada today, Zirin said that the point of the basketball players’ tour “is very explicit” – to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. (Listen to the interview with Dave Zirin via the media player above.)

The tour was organized in part by Israeli NBA player Omri Casspi, who has started a foundation intended not to bolster youth programs in the US, as other athletes might do, but rather to fight BDS and promote Israel’s image.

Anti-Palestinian extremist and major Republican Party bankroller Sheldon Adelson flew the group out on his private jumbo jet.

Zirin’s letter raises questions about players’ alliances with Adelson and Israel’s regime that many characterize as apartheid, while support grows inside the organization for the Black Lives Matter movement, which intersects with Palestine solidarity activism in the US.

“This epidemic of killings [by US police] has been aggravated by the influence of Israeli police practices on US policing,” writes Zirin. “Since 9/11, police chiefs and high-ranking officers from across the US — from Ferguson to New York City — have traveled to Israel for training in the arts of suppression.”

The tour “is a series of set pieces aimed at buttressing the aims of Sheldon Adelson and the foundation of Omri Casspi — and I think NBA players can do a whole lot better than the tour that they’re on,” Zirin told The Electronic Intifada.

Casspi “whipped up hatred,” Zirin noted, against fellow NBA star Dwight Howard last year during Israel’s 51-day attack against Gaza, after Howard tweeted “Free Palestine.” (Howard deleted the tweet soon after.)

Double standard

Zirin said that it was “disturbing” that NBA Cares, the charity wing of the highly profitable NBA, which has done work with children living in poverty around the world, is organizing “high-end [basketball] clinics” in Israel during the tour. “Why is NBA Cares, why is the NBA working so closely with Sheldon Adelson and Omri Casspi’s foundation?” he asked.

The propaganda tour, he said, “exposes so dramatically the double standard that exists when it comes to how Palestinians are treated and seen.”

“When speaking about anti-racist struggle, the desires, the aspirations, the liberation of Palestinians is shunted aside.”




Money can't buy you love. But it can buy support for the most despicable regimes, like Israel, Saudi, etc. Very sad and tragic for justice, humanity, etc.


I believe the NBA should be boycotted. They have no business whatever engaging in politics. Their supposed area of expertise is sports and they should limit their collective activities to that.


Dave Zirin is the greatest writer the world has for analysis of sports. When anything happens in sports that is newsworthy, look to Zirin for the truth.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).