22 Menachem Av 5777
JERUSALEM (AP) -- The NBA is heading to the Holy Land this week, bringing together some of the top emerging talent from across Europe as part of the league's push to attract more foreign players and expand its global reach.
...An NBA delegation, led by Commissioner Adam Silver, is in Israel as part of "Basketball Without Borders," a program that hosts training camps for top teenage players throughout the world.
...In an interview, Silver said the program aims to give players who have a legitimate chance of reaching the professional ranks a cultural and athletic experience that would be hard to match.
"It's a realization that in order to develop as an elite player at a relatively young age, you need to begin competing against other elite players. And also you need the benefit of top notch coaching," he said.
...Off the court, the program also promotes cultural awareness.
"Whatever region we're in, we educate the young folks about what's happening socially, politically, economically in the area they are in," Silver said. "It's life skills in addition to basketball. It's about the values of the game, like leadership and discipline and hard work and respect for each other."
Toward that goal, the program will sponsor a series of clinics and workshops for local youngsters that will include Israeli Jews as well as members of the Muslim, Christian and Druze minorities. Palestinian children from the West Bank will also be participating, Silver said. On Sunday, for instance, the program will dedicate a new "learn and play" center at Jerusalem's YMCA.
"We look for regions where we can have a bigger impact than just the game of basketball," Silver said.Also, the Israeli government, ever eager to mix Jews and non-Jews (especially among those of marriageable age) in the Holy Land, strikes again.
..."What we'd like to see is using basketball to build bridges between cultures," he said. "I think it really is true that people, whether on a basketball court, or it's on a soccer pitch, when they compete together they see how much they really do have in common. In this case, it's a shared passion for basketball."
The Council for Higher Education in Israel is seeking to attract international, Jewish and non-Jewish students to its universities to promote diversity and a more fertile exchange of ideas on its campuses.
...The council has allocated some NIS 300 million ($83 million) over six years to boost the number of foreign students in its universities and colleges. The idea is to make local academia more competitive with universities abroad and strengthen Israel’s branding as a country of international academic excellence. This will also help fight boycotts and increase diplomatic, social and economic ties with foreign countries, the council said.
“When you have people from different backgrounds you open yourself up to a variety of cultures and ways of thinking, and that enriches you,” Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, the chairman of the council, said in an interview. “This openness will enrich those who come from abroad, but also those who are here.”