Athletes, teams remain silent on Israel

Oct 11, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

There has been plenty of support for Israel after the brutal atrocities that Hamas inflicted on the country’s south leaving more than 1,200 dead and 3,000 injured coupled with the absolute indiscriminate slaughter of women and babies as well as the destruction and desecration of the communities by the Gaza border.

Some of that support has been provided by professional sports franchises in North America across all of the major leagues. From the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL as well as the MLS there has been unwavering backing by the leagues and from the majority of the clubs saying clearly that they stand with Israel and stand with humanity.

Of course, there has been plenty of support here in Israel from Maccabi Tel Aviv to Maccabi Haifa, Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv while those clubs have also lost fans and players from their youth department in the unfolding tragedy as well.

However, there have also been plenty of teams and athletes both here in the Holy Land and those around the globe who have remained silent, choosing to pacify their fan bases that have an ingrained hatred of Jews and Israel, seemingly not wanting to rock the boat.

The Miami Heat was the first franchise to post in support of Israel while many others soon followed from the New York Jets right before they played at the Denver Broncos to the New York Giants after falling to the Miami Dolphins. The Utah Jazz, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Vikings and Inter Miami all came to bat for Israel, however, there have been some teams who have tragically not and have decided to remain silent despite the murder and kidnapping of so, so many people including American citizens.

The New York Knicks and New York Rangers have so far been missing in action while the New York Yankees after more than 3.5 days finally did the minimum by reposting Major League Baseball’s general statement. The two teams owned by Madison Square Garden, the Knicks and Rangers have been not said a word and their silence has been deadly.

New York City, one of the largest homes to Jews in the world has two teams with so many Jewish fans who have not done the basic, humane thing to do, condemn terrorism, condemn the innocents that have been murdered, condemn Hamas whose mission is to kill Jews and destroy the State of Israel.

The Knicks and Rangers have done NOTHING!

How can any Jew or any honest person at this point even support these two franchises, both of which I was a season ticket holder during the time I lived in the Big Apple.

We can also add to that the most famous franchise in the NHL, my Montreal Canadiens. Where are they?

While world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather has risen to the occasion and not only made his feelings be known, he also walked the walk and didn’t just talk the talk by sending his private jet loaded with supplies for the IDF. Lebron James also came out with a strongly worded statement as we wait for many other top of the line athletes to share their thoughts just as they do with many other social justice issues. However, most probably are afraid to rock their constituencies as when it comes to the Jews and potentially making a comment, well that’s bad for business.

The English Premier League along with their teams including many owned by Jews have been silent while the French league and many more European competitions including FIFA and UEFA have also not said a word.

Apparently, the words Never Again have not yet been ingrained in their consciousness more than 80 years after the Holocaust took place.

The situation in certain sectors in Israel is also troubling. Arab teams Bnei Sakhnin and Bnei Reineh have not uttered a word other than the former posting about the death of Lior Assulin one of their former players.

Jewish Israeli athletes have called out the Arab Israeli players for not saying a word.

One player that has made statement is Anan Khalaili who starred for Israel’s youth soccer teams over the summer and now plays for Maccabi Haifa, “My family and I share in the sorrow of the bereaved parents and wish a speedy recovery to the injured! I was very pained by the heinous murder that was committed! And despite all the pain, we must not lose hope! May the enmity cease and may the sun rise again and peace prevail between the nations! I have lived alongside Jews and cooperated with them and will continue to do so! I pray for better days and wish for a speedy return of the abducted to their families and a full recovery for the wounded.”

Karam Jaber from Maccabi Netanya also showed support, “I am a citizen of the country and live the same reality as anyone in the universe who hates wars, does not like bloodshed, but unfortunately this is not something that we can determine. I am very saddened by what is happening, I am very saddened by the bloodshed of innocent citizens and I hope it will end soon. I wish I had some way on a personal level to stop all of this, believe me I wouldn’t hesitate. Praying for much better days.”

While a few others have started to show support including Muhammed Jaber and Hamza Shibli, there are far and few between as many, many Arab Israelis who have decided to say nothing.

This did not stand well with soccer players Yarden Cohen and Shon Edri who have made strong statements calling out the Arab Israelis including former Israel National Team players Beram Kayal and Monas Dabbur for not having the common decency that the few above had.

“Where are all the players from the Arab sector? Why don’t you defend us? I would enter the dressing room and you would hug us as if we were brothers, after goals you come running to us as if you are bringing us children, but when children are taken from us, innocent children and women, you say nothing and you go hide in holes!”

Cohen also remarked, “Today, barbarians are murdering Jews, butchering children at point blank range, where are you? I don’t want a hug and I don’t want anything. Defend us! Beram Kayal, you played for the Israeli national team, a month ago you were injured, the whole country was there for you! Monas Dabbur where are you? Did you cry when you were booed in the national team’s uniform?! We supported you, we said it was a handful of people! Where are all the teams and why don’t those in the Arab sector post a condemnation? Support?! Something! Your silence says everything.”

It’s time for everyone to come together to fight the common enemy and not be afraid of saying something that may be against the grain of ones community.

By being silent each and every one of the athletes and teams are siding with the terrorists whether they like it or not.

Hopefully we will see more and more sports teams and athletes both in Israel and across the globe understand that this is not the time to stay silent but to rise to the occasion and stand with humankind in its hour of need. As David Blatt so eloquently but forcefully said, “Our people and our land are under constant attack. Our way of life is in danger of disappearing. Wake up world! Today it is here, tomorrow it is in your backyard. This is real, call it Hamas, call it ISIS, call it terrorism. This is a battle for humanity.”

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