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August 1, 2014 3:01 pm

Cleveland Cavaliers Israeli Head Coach David Blatt: ‘This War is Israel’s Most Justified War I Can Remember’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt after winning the Eurochampionships. Photo: Getty / Screenshot

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt after winning the Eurochampionships. Photo: Getty / Screenshot

David Blatt, the new head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, and the first Israeli to lead a professional U.S. basketball team, said Israel was justified in its war against Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza, in an interview with Israel’s Globes published on Friday.

When asked if he supports Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, Blatt said, “Absolutely. In my opinion, this war is Israel’s most justified war I can remember in recent years.”

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“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,” Blatt said, who added that he is “uncomfortable” not being in Israel during this war.

“I’ve always been in Israel at the hardest times,” he said. “Since Operation Protective Edge began, I feel being in Israel is the most natural thing for me to do. My work is here, though, and I have to get ready for the coming season.”

“It’s not easy for me when I’m constantly thinking about what’s happening in Israel,” Blatt said. “My two older daughters happen to be on their global post-[Israeli] army service tour, my son is overseas playing in in the European Youth Basketball Championship, and my youngest daughter is also out of the country for a few days. They’re all returning to Israel, though, and I’m planning on seeing them again at the beginning of August.”

“I had a plane ticket with Delta Airlines, but I changed to El Al as soon as Delta canceled its flights on to Israel,” he said, referring to the 24-hour flight ban imposed by the U.S. FAA last week.

Recent polls showed that 70 per cent of Americans do not believe that Hamas is justified in its war against Israel, the same poll showed only 42 per cent believe Israel is justified against Hamas. Blatt said, “There’s support, although sometimes it’s not enough. In my opinion, though, there’s more support this time than before.”

In an interview published by The Algemeiner last month, Blatt, 55, described growing up in Framingham, a suburb of Boston, listening to the iconic raspy radio voice of Johnny Most, the long-time announcer for the Boston Celtics, led by Jewish coach Red Auerbach, who won nine NBA championships in 10 years.

Blatt went to college at Princeton University, where he majored in English literature and played basketball for legendary coach Pete Carril. In his sophomore year, Blatt was recruited to play in the summer league for the basketball team at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, in Israel.

“I really had not had designs on making Aliyah growing up or well into my college experience, but I was invited to spend a summer in Israel by a nice gentlemen and a coach in Israel who saw me play with Princeton, and I fell in love with Israel,” Blatt said. “That was a life-changing experience because I ended up spending 33 years there.”

Blatt immigrated to Israel as a basketball player when he was 22. After a successful career as a player, he went on to become the coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, which he led to a stunning comeback victory from a 15-point deficit against CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague semifinals in May. Their next game was another upset victory in the championships over Real Madrid, sparking jubilant celebrations across Israel.

A month after the Maccabi victory, Blatt announced plans to leave the Israeli team to pursue his dream of coaching in the NBA. A week later he was hired by the Cavaliers, becoming the first coach to move directly from the European leagues into an NBA head-coaching job.

The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t won an NBA championship since the team was founded 1970, but Blatt’s young squad will be helped this year by another high-profile signing, LeBron James, 29, a 6’8″, 250 pound forward, and Akron, Ohio, native, who many consider to be the greatest player in the game.  James left the Cavaliers in 2010 to pursue his championship dream  which he achieved playing for the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.

“Obviously we are all thrilled to have LeBron coming back home,” Blatt said. “It’s great for our team, it’s great for the city of Cleveland, and it’s great for the state of Ohio.”

Blatt said James “raises the bar, without question, in terms of his greatness as a player, his ability to raise those around him, as well as his character and his drive to succeed, and his ability to play the game at a high standard and high team standards.”

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  • df

    If you google the term “pallywood” and read at least 3 websites on it david blatts views could be understood perfectly


    Maybe he can go fight for Israel after he gets fired in the next season or 2!!

  • Catherine Coy

    I stand with Israel.

  • Agree totally. Off the bastards. Sending mistakes into Israel. What do they expect ?

  • James

    @am. Please. If you don’t think there is suffering on Gaza then you clearly have your head on the sand. Some of the most vocal anti-Israel rhetoric has come from the un, a neutral organisation plus they are the ones reporting civilian deaths. Hamas are evil, but Israel are hardly spotless.

    @Elizabeth. I haven’t read his comments so cant fully comment on them. All I will say though is that criticising Israel does not make someone an anti-semite. This war too often has people siding with one side based on nothing more than religion.

    • sharon

      What planet do you live in? The UN is neutral?

  • Am

    I don’t see how anyone could logically trust Hamas’s fatality statistics. It amazes me to see how freely these stats are marketed, without any filter at all. Time Magazine just did a write up about this last week, and showed how the ages of the dead can’t possibly be true – demographically. They are highly exaggerated, and therefore not reliable – in terms of actual numbers dead (and age of the so-called victims). This has been proved time and time again. Also, the Palestinian kids know how to perform for the cameras. Look carefully, the next time they show them on TV. There are many times where their fake crying is almost laughable. Some can be seen waiting for the cameras to focus, and then suddenly crying. Also, a lot of the footage keeps looping over and over.

  • Elizabeth

    I love you so so much.

    • Elizabeth

      One interesting buried fact about the NBA racist Sterling, is he has a very very very long history of hating Israel, this is purposely buried because it doesn’t fit this antisemitic world’s narrative, he has made at least 100 anti-Israel public comments, while the one who fined him, and said very sternly there is no place for racism in the NBA, is Jewish like Sterling and he and his parents like Israel.