Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

Caitlin Clark is the Israel of women’s basketball

It's almost as if we've already met those ignorant haters spewing vitriol against a WNBA star who did nothing to harm them
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) is fouled by Los Angeles Sparks guard Rae Burrell (12) in the second half of a WNBA basketball game in Indianapolis, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) is fouled by Los Angeles Sparks guard Rae Burrell (12) in the second half of a WNBA basketball game in Indianapolis, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Ostensibly rational and compassionate people take the side of terrorists against their victims. In the face of a reality that contradicts every reasonable interpretation of the words, a historically oppressed people that is subjected to arbitrary hatred and threatened with actual annihilation is accused of “apartheid” and “genocide.” Kidnapping, rape, torture, and hostage-taking are rationalized, justified, and normalized by people who surely must know better. College students support and defend savage miscreants who kill and kidnap babies. Posters of innocent kidnapped children, women, and men being held hostage are torn down as if their existence is some sort of affront to propriety.

I am trying to figure it out. Really.

But it isn’t easy. Because all the analytic tools, all the logic, all the facts, all the history–appear no longer to be relevant.

So you need to go with empirical observation, analyzing the things that people are doing and saying, in order to form conclusions about behavior and beliefs that are currently appropriate and acceptable.

And, after much analysis, it appears to come down to this:

If you want a free and democratic Palestine, you should brutally commit flagrant fouls against Caitlin Clark.

For those of you who don’t expect to see Caitlin Clark discussed in an essay of this kind, some background: she is a generational basketball talent, having set scoring records during her collegiate career at the University of Iowa, popularized the sport of women’s basketball far beyond its status quo ante Caitlin, and brought new levels of attendance, financial sponsorship, and television revenue to the sport and its players. She is also white, heterosexual, charming, fiercely competitive, hard-working, and preternaturally talented.

You get it – privileged.

She is the Israel of women’s basketball. Therefore, she may be assaulted on the court with the sort of thuggery that would be criminal if it occurred on the street. She should be called a b____ by other players, whose status and financial prospects have been elevated by her mere presence. Her talents and gifts should be deprecated and diminished by those who view her with hatred and jealousy because she has accomplished feats and scaled heights they can barely imagine.

A sampling, so you won’t think (as any rational person would be fully justified in thinking) that I am making this up. Jemele Hill, who was once a mediocre sports journalist but has worked hard to become the most ignorant and stupid commentator in the field (now that Keith Olbermann has abandoned sports journalism in favor of self-parody and Robert de Niro imitation), said that the player who delivered the most visible and egregious cheap shot against Clark was “showing some serious resolve.” Surely Jemele Hill, who covered the WNBA when it attracted almost no viewers, must understand that the tribal animosity directed at Clark lacks any justifiable basis, but she nevertheless pretends that the racial hostility and jealousy is somehow the fault of… Caitlin Clark.

Sound familiar? Resistance is not terrorism. Kidnapping? Rape? Hostage-taking? Well, what do you expect if you are going to be free, democratic, successful, and tolerant?

Somehow, seeing this insanity play out in a forum that lacks any geopolitical gravitas sheds light on a situation where the terrorist side that rapes, kidnaps, tortures, takes hostages, and shows an inhuman indifference to the suffering of its own people becomes the darling of students and the media, while the moral and measured response of the victim that is fighting for its life and its existence is labeled genocide and war crimes. Behold a value system in which up is down, evil is good, and pictures of kidnapped babies may be properly torn down as offensive to sensitive feelings.

Will Leitch (pronounced leech), a white man covering sports and film in New York since 2008, even if you have never previously heard of him, has made his claim to dubious credentials in this field by writing a story for New York Magazine titled “Caitlin Clark Is Getting Pushed Around in the WNBA. Good.” He believes “pushing Clark is really a way of showing respect for the game.”

“By any means possible,” I guess. This is the sort of political analysis Barack Obama used to explain his tilt toward the murderous terrorists in Iran and his attempt to put daylight between the US and Israel. It is the sort of journalism that observes a valorous rescue of four kidnapped hostages from the civilian homes and neighborhoods in which they were held, but sees as newsworthy only the damage to the terrorists and the innocents among whom the terrorists sheltered. It is the sort of facile rationalization that excuses the most egregious and criminal behavior, so long as it is directed at someone or something that can be putatively labeled an oppressor.

Monica McNutt (her name, really) suggested that it is “unfair to the women of the league … who have laid the groundwork, for Caitlin Clark to come in and now take it to the next level.” Yes. Really. It is unfair to have this upstart show up and make those talented women who formerly labored in obscurity rich and famous. What right had Israel to leave Gaza in 2005, leaving its people to choose its own leaders and destiny? What did Israel expect? Humanity? Enlightenment? Democracy? Freedom?

A two-state solution?

Or, as Hamas preferred, a Final Solution?

What right had the UN, the US, the EU, and countless NGOs to donate billions of dollars for economic development and humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, only to see the funds used to buy weapons, indoctrinate children to hate, and build tunnels for war? What did they expect?

My purpose is not to minimize or trivialize the horrific situation in the Middle East by comparing it to something so insignificant as the brouhaha in women’s basketball. My purpose is to demonstrate that when dealing with the irrational and malign racial and tribal hatred that is prevalent on the streets and on the campuses, you must be prepared to confront the shallowest and most ignorant of prejudices. In basketball. And in the Middle East.

You must understand that “Queers for Palestine” who demean Israel’s tolerant culture and support a regime that would happily kill gays and lesbians, are simply saying “We Hate Jews.”

You must understand that “A Clean Environment Runs Through a Free Palestine,” as enunciated by the mindless, pitiful adolescent whose only talent is spewing hatred and vituperation, means “We Hate Jews.”

You must understand that “Israel is Committing Genocide” is a big lie, calculated to divert the spotlight from the truly genocidal Hamas.

You must understand that “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” means “We want Israel to disappear and all its inhabitants to be killed.”

Racial hatred and jealousy. Ignorance. Political naivete (there has never been an Arab Palestine, free or otherwise). Terrorism. Violence.

Maybe someday, the players who are currently brutalizing and attacking Caitlin Clark will step back, think for a moment, and say, “Objectively viewed, she is someone to be appreciated, admired and thanked.” Until then, their ignorance, selfishness, and brutality should be exposed for what it is.

Maybe someday, the mainstream media will assess the situation in which Israel wants merely to be left alone and her enemies want nothing less than the obliteration of the Jewish State and the annihilation of the Jewish people, and conclude that it is Israel, and not her Iran-backed enemies, that warrants support and applause for its bravery and accomplishments. Maybe someday, the world will understand that Israel, for all its faults and failures, is truly a light unto the nations and deserves to be appreciated, admired and praised, and not reviled, for trying to be better than its antagonists and, for the most part, succeeding.

Like Caitlin Clark.

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About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.