Oakland, May 20 – Activists accustomed to co-opting every popular issue or cause for anti-Israel advocacy purposes have admitted hitting a metaphorical wall in attempting to do the same with the championship basketball series between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace and local advocated of the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement against Israel disclosed to reporters today that despite intense efforts to associate the climax of the National Basketball Association’s 2017-2018 season with Palestinian aspirations to destroy Israel, they have enjoyed no noticeable success. Members of the groups attributed the failure to multiple factors.
“It might have been different if [the] Houston [Rockets] or Boston [Celtics] had made the finals,” surmised Reem Assil, a restaurateur and Palestine activist in the Warriors’ hometown. “As it is, though, this is just a rematch of last year’s series, so it’s not as compelling a story to hijack. Not as much buzz.”
“Also we no longer have the Israelis associated with each team who could have served as lightning rods for our efforts,” noted Pardi Pupr, a leader of the Berkeley chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. “Omri Casspi isn’t on the Warriors anymore, which in itself is good news, but paradoxically, that deprives us of a figure on whom to focus our venom and make any connection with the cause. The same goes for David Blatt, who no longer coaches the Cavs. Without those two, it becomes much harder to find an emotionally resonant way to show everyone everything is really about us.”
Academics in the San Francisco Bay area cited another factor. “My colleagues and I have been advising student activists how to handle this, and we realized one of the important reasons for the challenge,” explained SFSU Professor of Gender Studies Hugh Briss. “Specifically, it’s that neither of these two teams is a clear underdog. Both are recent champions and have been more or less unbeatable during the regular season. Fighters for justice in Palestine don’t really have a way to depict one team as parallel to the plucky, underdog and therefore virtuous, Palestinians, and the other as the more powerful, and therefore evil, Israel.”
Other activists perceived actual human intent behind the frustration. “The head of the NBA is a Jew,” stated Stephanie Lind, a sophomore at UC-Berkeley and a member of the campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Adam Silver obviously set things up so no one would be able to bring any important issues into the arena. We see the same thing with the NFL and kneeling, and the unjust way in which the owners, many of whom are Jewish, manipulate things to the detriment of justice.”
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