Drafted 23rd overall in 2009 by the Sacramento Kings, Omri Casspi hit the ground running as the first Israeli to play in the NBA. Since then, though, Casspi’s impact off the court has been greater than his impact on it.
Two years after making the news for his athletic achievements, Casspi’s fame inspired an Israeli policy proposal: the so-called “Omri Casspi Bill,” a divisive piece of legislation that would allow Israelis abroad to vote in elections.
The bill led to much heated argumentation, including a widely-circulated letter signed by writer Amos Oz, among other prominent intellectuals, claiming that it was “anti-democratic.” TV-personality-cum-politician Yair Lapid was also opposed: “Israel is a country whose existence is constantly threatened, so people who don’t live here shouldn’t be able to vote on the issues.”
With somewhere between 550,000 and 1 million Israelis living abroad, there is no question that the “Omri Casspi Bill” would have had a profound impact on Israeli elections had it not been defeated last year on the Knesset floor. As for Casspi, he gave few public statements on the matter. Given his limited playing time and recent request for a trade, Casspi seems to have more immediate concerns.
February 11, 2013