Muslim rights group calls on Auburn Basketball to cancel team trip to Israel

Muslim rights group calls on Auburn Basketball to cancel team trip to Israel

A Muslim rights group has called on Auburn University to cancel its planned men’s basketball trip to Israel.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, issued a public statement Thursday calling on Auburn to cancel their upcoming trip to Israel “or at least meet with them.” ordinary Palestinians and learn about the Israeli system of apartheid without the presence of Israeli mentors.”

The 10-day Birthright for College Basketball tour is scheduled to begin this weekend. Players from the Auburn University basketball team will visit historical sites in Israel and play three exhibition games against Israeli teams. The team is also expected to meet with Palestinian national team coach Paul Coghter.

“We want this to be normal if at all possible — a Jewish basketball coach from Auburn takes his team to Israel and has lunch with the Palestinian national basketball coach,” Auburn basketball head coach Bruce Pearl said in a media call Monday.

“I don’t know how it’s going to work, but I hope it’s just wonderful and normal and something that people can look at and say, ‘Okay, this is possible.'”

CAIR national communications director Ibrahim Hooper described the trip as a “junket” and said it should be cancelled.

“This propaganda junket is clearly designed to normalize Israeli apartheid and racial segregation while ignoring Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and international law,” Hooper said. “Unless this trip is cancelled, we urge the members of the Auburn basketball team to meet with ordinary Palestinians without the presence of Israeli caregivers so that they can learn the realities of Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

Auburn, who won the Southeastern Conference championship last season, will play Israel’s U20 national team in Jerusalem on August 2, Israel’s All-Star Select Team in Tel Aviv on August 7, and Tel Aviv on August 8 Israel National Team. The team will also host a basketball clinic for Israeli and Palestinian children.

The basketball team will visit many of Israel’s historical and tourist sites such as the Western Wall and Dead Sea and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum.

On Friday, Pearl addressed the criticism at a team training session.

“This is a sports trip,” Pearl said. “This is not a political trip. We will not allow any political action group to define what we do.”

See also: Bruce Pearl speaks on trip to Israel

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