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Gregg Popovich, the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, has spoken on the Israel-Gaza war and believes a lack of leadership is why there hasn’t been a solution to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
The American Hall-of-Famer, who is the longest-serving active coach in the NBA, has been an outspoken voice on many social justice issues in the United States over the years. He said it’s important to talk about what’s happening in Palestine and Israel to keep the problem at the forefront and force leaders to act.
“Many people have tried to solve this problem, as you specifically talk about Palestine, for decades and it hasn’t happened. Talking about it is important because if we don’t, it goes away, nobody pays attention,” Popovich said in a Zoom call on Wednesday, when asked by The National about the conflict.
“So I think the more that it is talked about, the better. I don’t know how that solves it, I wish I had an answer but all our hearts just die when we see the horror that Hamas committed and then we feel the same when we see the bombs dropping killing children and civilians in Palestine.”
As calls for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza continue to be rejected by Israel, Popovich feels leaders must put history aside and choose to prioritise the lives of innocent children.
“As we speak, we know that there are people trying to figure this out. Should there be a ceasefire, should there not? How do we move forward? Is it a military solution? On and on and on. And we just hope that we can find leadership somehow. Because that’s the one thing I think is always lacking,” said Popovich.
“Can there be no men or women who can sit down, get over the greedy power-hungry perceptions that we all have? The arguments, the fights, the histories that everybody has and continues to employ; at some point, the circle has got to stop and somebody has got to have the integrity and the courage to say, ‘We start from here’.
“Somehow the past has to be put away. Because every time the past comes up, decisions can’t be made. People become locked in their own worlds and we kill more children.
“It’s just hard for me to understand all the people who are so adamant about their positions, they have children, they have grandchildren; isn’t that the point? And I wish there were leaders that could grab X number of people by the scruff to the neck, put them in a room and tell them they’re not leaving until they figure it out.
“It sounds simplistic but someone has to have the courage, and I don’t see it.”