Wednesday, June 10, 2015

David Blatt, the Israeli soldier

"Blatt's proud Zionism means that he has been a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (the IDF), an experience described in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as "his most significant bonding experiences with the country." He is also on a first-name basis with the nation's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. This friendship, which ABC broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy described at high decibels as "impressive" during Tuesday night's primetime Finals broadcast, is so intimate, that Blatt boasts of being able to call Netanyahu "Bibi" when they speak. Blatt told The Plain Dealer that the prime minister "said all of Israel is behind the Cavaliers. That was great."

What went unmentioned by Van Gundy, not to mention The Plain Dealer, are the ethical implications of an NBA coach beaming about his friendship with Netanyahu. "Bibi's" last campaign was so riven with virulent anti-Arab racism, it was condemned across the globe. The aforementioned Israeli newspaper Haaretz printed an editorial about feeling "shame" that their "prime minister was a racist" after Netanyahu's March election victory. The New York Times editorial page credited his triumph to a "desperate and craven" campaign that relied on a "racist rant" against Arab citizens of Israel to pull out a victory. Time's Joel Klein wrote that Netanyahu's victory represented an "appalling irony" that "brought joy to American neoconservatives and European anti-Semites alike." I use these examples because they represent how even staunch supporters of Israel were nauseated by Netanyahu's toxic political platform."