This week, 14 Israeli basketball players, all of which are Olim from a number of countries are challenging a rule that was agreed upon by the league administration and the players association that would levy a fine on a team that signs a naturalized citizen who has had citizenship for less than four years. A fine of 200,000 NIS will be applied for the first naturalized citizen while a fine fo 300,000 NIS will be levied on the second.
The desire for this rule to be implemented was to discourage teams from signing naturalized players due to favorable tax rates while shunning home grown talent.
Spencer Weisz, Hapoel Beer Sheva’s captain and one of the 14 players that filed the lawsuit and he himself is a naturalized citizen, spoke exclusively to The Sports Rabbi about the situation, “It’s an unfortunate situation that is occurring. Having grown up in a Jewish household, Judaism has always been deeply rooted into who I am – from celebrating Jewish Holidays, attending Hebrew school and having a Bar Mitzvah. I had the privilege of going to Israel for the first time when I was 18 to play in the Maccabiah Games.
“Since then, I have spent much of my young adult life in the country including spending a summer playing for the Israel’s Under-20 National Team. Once I finished my degree at Princeton University, I opted to turn down opportunities in America in order to make Aliyah. It is my understanding that the Law of Return is meant to unite Jews of different backgrounds in the Jewish homeland, not use the Law as a way to separate Jews based on birthplace.”