Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) on Friday morning responded sharply to the announcement that the Israeli national basketball team will have to play the eighth game of the European Championships finals after the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah begins.
The game against the Italian national team will start at 7:30 p.m. Israeli time on Sunday night, and will therefore cause a desecration of the holiday according to Jewish law.
"The decision by FIBA (the International Basketball Federation) regarding the time of the game after the holiday begins, despite the early requests to play before the start of the holiday, is a spitting in the face of the state of Israel and hundreds of thousands of fans, both religious and non-religious, who honor the holy day in prayer and around the holiday table."
"I hope and want to believe that this decision doesn't have a whiff of anti-Semitism, particularly given the reality that earlier games were granted to other national teams," added Ariel.
He called on Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "to get involved immediately with FIBA to change the time of the game and to honor the holiday."
Officials on Israel's national team had hoped to avoid being dragged into a game on the holiday, but according to them the schedule of the games was set long in advance without knowing which national teams would appear in the finals games – and therefore it isn't possible to change the time.