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October 11, 2019 4:02 pm

Top Jewish Group Blasts NBA Franchise for ‘Bowing to BDS Pressure’ in Sponsor Row

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

The Portland Trail Blazers in action against the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Photo: Reuters / Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports.

A leading US-based Jewish advocacy group on Friday slammed the National Basketball Association’s Portland Trail Blazers for “bowing to pressure” from activists supporting the anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Trail Blazers this week announced that they were severing ties with advertising partner Leupold & Stevens — a rifle-scope manufacturer that sells its products to the US and Israeli armies. The company had partnered with the Trail Blazers in its “Hometown Hero” segment, which showcases first-responders and members of the military.

In a statement on Friday, B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin accused the team of having surrendered to a “group of radical activists, including the Portland Democratic Socialists of America and Jewish Voice for Peace, that protested the Blazers for its ties to Leupold & Stevens because the company provided equipment to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 2017.”

The statement continued:  “The meager attendance at their protest rally, which the co-chairwoman of the Portland Democratic Socialists of America says drew between 30 and 40 people, shows the movement’s disorganization and lack of support. We are disappointed that the Portland Trail Blazers did not ignore this attempt at bullying the team into cutting ties with Leupold & Stevens because of its relationship with one of America’s allies.”

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The Trail Blazers have meanwhile firmly denied that the ending of the partnership was influenced by political factors.

“Leupold’s sponsorship contract officially expired at the end of last season and Leupold & Stevens made the decision not to renew,” the franchise said in a statement on Thursday. “Their decision was business-related and not influenced by external pressure as being misreported by certain media outlets.”

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