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University basketball teams from USA visit Israel and UAE to show support for Abraham Accords

Athletes for Israel is hosting KSU and UArizona basketball teams

Basketball players from Kansas State University and University of Arizona arrive in Israel (Photo: Screenshot)

Two top American basketball teams are visiting Israel and the United Arab Emirates over the next 10 days in a show of support for normalization ties between two nations.

The historic Arab-Israeli Abraham Accords in 2020 reportedly inspired the teams from Kansas State University and University of Arizona to make the trip, which is being coordinated by Athletes for Israel, an NGO dedicated to combating global antisemitism and racism.

The 10-day trip will combine sports activities with local cultural activities in both the Jewish state and the UAE.

The KSU and UArizona basketball teams will visit Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the vibrant Tel Aviv beaches. They will also compete against a select team of national basketball stars in Israel.

After flying to the UAE, players will visit top Emirati sites, including the Abrahamic Family House, a co-existence site which houses a mosque, church and synagogue, as well as the large Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Athletes for Israel's founder Daniel Posner said the trip was organized as part of an effort to “change the narrative about Israel” and fight antisemitism.

“When we talked about the trip for this year, our dream was to do an Abraham Accords-like trip,” Posner said during an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

He stressed that it was important to support peace efforts in the Middle East region.

“We were able to make that happen this year, traveling to both Israel and the UAE, really showing that in today’s modern day and age, there can be peace in the Middle East. And we want to support that.”

Auburn University basketball coach Bruce Pearl will reportedly accompany the U.S. teams on their trip from Israel to the Emirates. While Pearl’s own team will not participate, the pro-Israel coach says he is joining because he feels "very much a part of the Abraham Accords.” 

“It was almost like God put us together. He knew what my plan was, and He knew exactly who I needed to meet to make my dream a reality," Pearl said.

The Jewish nation and the UAE established close ties since the formal peace-signing agreement in the White House three years ago. With an annual GDP of approximately $500 billion each, Israel and the UAE have emerged as economic powerhouses. Both regional and global investors have been particularly attracted by the combination of Emirati capital and Israeli technology.

In March, Israel and the UAE signed the final part of a free trade agreement, which is expected to dramatically increase bilateral trade between the two countries.

At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the close economic ties between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.

“The historic peace accord we signed with the UAE continues to bear fruit for the benefit of the citizens of both countries,” Netanyahu stated. “I am positive that we will continue to expand Israel’s circle of peace with other regional neighbors."

Emirati-Israeli ties also extend to tourism with hundreds of thousands of Israelis already having visited the Gulf state.

There is also a growing scientific bilateral cooperation. In September 2021, Israel and the UAE signed a historic agreement to cooperate on a space mission and moon landing scheduled for 2024.

Shimon Sarid, CEO of SpaceIL, a private Israeli space agency, welcomed the bilateral space cooperation.

“If we combine the capabilities of the Israeli side and the Emirati side we can do a very interesting and successful mission,” Sarid said.

Morris Kahn, the founder of SpaceIL, echoed Sarid’s enthusiasm concerning Israeli-Emirati space cooperation.

“Over the past few months, we have forged a strong relationship with senior UAE officials who seek to establish a deep relationship based on shared values of education, technology and inspiration for the younger generations of the two peoples,” said Kahn.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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