Hours before Sunday night’s preseason clash at Quicken Loans Arena between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Maccabi Tel Aviv, a healthy dose of politics will be served up, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, with a pro-Palestine group set to protest outside for approximately two hours beginning at 2:00 p.m Eastern.
The group, which serves as the Cleveland branch of Al-Awda, The Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, will be protesting Israeli policy, referring to the Cavaliers’ opponent as the “terror entity’s team.” The connection to the Cavaliers stems from comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict made by new head coach David Blatt two months ago to the Israeli business newspaper Globes.
Blatt, who holds dual citizenship in both the United States and Israel and also previously coached for Maccabi, commented to the newspaper,
“This war is Israel’s most justified war I can remember in recent years. I’m really sorry about what’s happening in Gaza, but there’s no doubt that we had to act there, so that Israel will have quiet there once and for all, and we can live in peace.”
Sunday morning, Blatt will also be prominently featured at a Quicken Loans Arena reception that will pay tribute to injured soldiers from Israel Defense Forces.
Abbas Falasteen Hamideh is heading the protest, and says,
“For Blatt to honor a brutal occupation army as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers is irresponsible to say the least, and mind blowing to Palestinians, who are die-hard fans of the team.”
The group has set up a Facebook page for the event, and as of late Saturday morning, 93 people were slated to attend, with another 26 undecided among the 848 invited.
The Cavaliers’ organization is staying out of the fray, saying they had no comment when asked about the situation. The game itself is set to tip-off just after 6 p.m. Eastern, long after the protest rally has ended.