Dave Zirin, who operates in the small intersection between liberalism and sports for The Nation, is outraged that Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green visited Israel, which Zirin deems "a problem."
The root of the problem, to Zirin, is that Green, as a member of the NBA champion team that skipped its visit to President Donald Trump's White House, previously "symbolized resistance" to Trump. Seeing Green go from a vocal opponent to Trump to a visit with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and the Israeli Defense Forces, who put a sniper rifle in the smiling NBA star's hands, was "shocking" to Zirin.
"In a trip organized by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Green presented Rivlin with a Warriors jersey," Zirin wrote. "It is, frankly, shocking to see Draymond Green smiling and shooting guns in their company."
Zirin complains that Green was creating "propaganda" for Israeli forces that shot Palestianian protesters—though unmentioned by Zirin, they were largely composed of members of terrorist group Hamas.
"These counterterrorism border police units are part of a military that shot and killed more than 60 Palestinians who were protesting at the border in May, less than two months ago," wrote Zirin, who also falsely linked the protest to the United States' decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
"Palestinians were raising their voices not only against the decision of the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but the daily reality of living in the open-air prison that is Gaza, surrounded by walls, checkpoints, and one of the most well-funded militaries on earth," he said.
Zirin said Green's visit would have been like going to visit with the Ferguson Police Department during the 2014 protests.
The visit left Zirin asking himself, "Why?"
"Given the growing number of cultural and sports figures that have pulled out of visits to Israel because of these human-rights abuses, Draymond Green’s trip raises the uncomfortable question of ‘why?' Why go on a trip organized by Friends of the IDF? Why reject Donald Trump and accept the invitation of Rivlin?"
"It is beautifully true that the Golden State Warriors have stood for using basketball and their voices as instruments of peace and justice," Zirin writes in conclusion. "Draymond Green's allowing himself used in this way stands as strongly counterposed to that very tradition."
The only individual who Zirin reached for a statement on Green's trip appears to be a Palestinian activist, who called Green "the latest celebrity to be posterized by Israeli apartheid."
"The Israeli state has made the cooptation of American sports heroes into a key part of their strategy to appeal to demographics alienated by their human-rights abuses," activist Yousef Munayyer said before paraphrasing Spiderman. "With great celebrity comes great responsibility, and unfortunately Draymond allowed his celebrity to be used in ways unbecoming of a champion of freedom, justice, and equality."
Liberal activist Shaun King similarly felt betrayed by Green's trip, calling it "horribly offensive" with a link to Zirin's piece.
Dear Draymond Green (@Money23Green),
You got played.
Flashing a toothy grin w/ a sniper rifle in Israel on a trip sponsored by Friends of the IDF is so horribly offensive.
They've recently slaughtered 100s of unarmed Palestinians w/ those rifles.https://t.co/v1k0aYXoNS
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 11, 2018
This is not the first time Zirin has targeted athletes traveling to Israel. In 2015, he wrote an "open letter" to teammates of Israeli player Omri Caspi for traveling with him to Israel in the offseason. His letter is filled with anti-Israel theories, such as that it had worked to monetize its "repressive capabilities" following 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He wrote another "open letter" to NFL players traveling to Israel in 2017, urging players to "reconsider taking this trip to ensure you are standing on the right side of history."