‘It’s a sporting trip,’ Pearl says of visiting Israel squad
Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl opted to stick with the sport on Friday when a reporter popped the question about 24 hours after a Muslim rights group asked the Tigers to cancel their trip to Israel for the first “Birthright for College Basketball” from July 31 to August 28. ten.
“It’s a sports trip,” Pearl said. “This is not a political trip. We’re not going to let any political action group define what we do.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized the trip.
“This propaganda trip is clearly designed to normalize Israeli apartheid and racial segregation while ignoring Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and international law,” said CAIR National Director of Communications Ibrahim Hooper. in a press release.
Related: Muslim rights group calls on Auburn basketball to cancel team’s trip to Israel
“Don’t fart in the Dead Sea”: Pearl on a trip to Israel
Canceling the tour within 48 hours of departure would have been difficult. CAIR, the largest Muslim advocacy and civil rights organization in the country, offered an alternative.
“If this trip isn’t cancelled,” Hooper said, “we urge members of the Auburn basketball team to meet ordinary Palestinians without Israeli managers present so they can learn the realities Israeli occupation and apartheid”.
Pearl responded to this with a question, “Would you like us to meet normal Jews too?” Pearl, who is Jewish, told reporters at Neville Arena as the Tigers wrapped up their final practice before heading to Israel for the 10-day, three-game basketball tour.
The Tigers are expected to have lunch at the home of Palestinian national basketball coach Paul Coghter and visit historical and tourist sites in Israel.
Pearl said he regularly enjoys discussing politics and religion. He declined to talk about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian unrest in the region.
Pearl also noted that those questions didn’t arise when the Tigers traveled to Italy in the summer of 2017 ahead of the 2017-18 season.
“Has anyone asked us this question about Italy?” said Pearl. “When we went to Italy, we didn’t have that question. Why should we hear about it from Israel?
Auburn will play the Israel U-20 national team on Tuesday, August 2 at Malha Arena in Jerusalem and back-to-back games against the Israel All-Star Team on Sunday, August 7 and the Israel National Team on Monday. , on August 8, at the Sport Palace Tel Aviv Yafo in Tel Aviv. The Tigers will play four quarterbacks in each game using FIBA rules.
All games will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Nubyjas Wilborn covers Auburn for Alabama Media Group.