In August, Maor Lasri Alfasi, an Israeli wheelchair basketball player, decided to join the 21-year-old BSR Valladolid – Aliados Foundation, a team from the “best league in the world, where I can grow as much as possible as a player.” This is what EL PERIÓDICO DE ESPAÑA, from Grupo Prensa Ibérica, recognizes as an athlete with a Spanish passport. His grandmother is from Melilla and is of Sephardic origin. When he arrived at his new destination, his only concern was adapting to a new country and competitive context. Although his body is on the court, his mind has remained in Kfar Yonaa city located in central Israel, where his parents, his 17-year-old brother and many acquaintances live.
“My friends and many others have been recruited by the army and are fighting in Gaza right now. I hope everyone returns safely after winning this war.“, explains Lasri, from the relative tranquility that comes with knowing “that my family is not on the front line, which means they are a little safer.” It wasn’t always like this. This city, which has around 25,000 inhabitants, was founded in 1932 by Maurice Fisher, a Jew who named the town in honor of his father, Yona Fisher, a Belgian Zionist.
“I don’t think there is anti-Semitism in Spain”
In the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, Kfar Yona was the scene of direct clashes. At the end of the conflict, The Jewish state increased its territory by about 23% more than what the United Nations had initially assigned. Lasri says that his life “right now is mainly focused on training here in Spain, which helps me maintain a routine, although I am always worried about what is happening in my country. Being so far away makes it much harder to really understand what’s going on there.“.
He also experiences this complexity when talking to his teammates about the conflict. “When they ask me about my family and the current reality, it is very difficult for them to understand what it is like to live in a place with such a complicated reality,” reflects a player who is international for his country.
“Representing Israel is very important to me, because it shows who I am and is an important part of my identity,” says Lasri, who has not perceived any “type of antisemitism in Spain and I hope it continues like this”. Although he states that “the Internet does exist throughout Europe, it makes me realize how important Israel is to Jews.”
He will have two Iranian teammates: “We are professionals”
Lasri has been a member of the senior national team since 2021 and last year played in European competition. “I started playing six years ago and fell in love with the sport. It made me realize that I can achieve great things despite my disability.. It increases my self-confidence and allows me to talk more openly about my disability. It gives me an opportunity to grow and believe,” she highlights.
The basketball player acknowledges having received “a great welcome” from the Pucelano club, “which takes care of all my needs on and off the court.” There is no active Jewish community in Valladolid, although this does not influence Lasri, “because I am not very religious in my daily life”. The Israeli player is a strategic piece of the BSR Valladolid – Fundación Aliados, which they will join in November, predictably, Omid Hadiazhar and Amirreza Ahmadi.
Two players of Iran, a state opposed to Israel and which annually delivers, according to Jewish state intelligence, $100 million to Hamas, responsible for the October 7 attack. “I hope there is no problem with them. In the end we are all professionals and we are here for the same cause. Also, I think the majority of Iranian civilians want to live in peace!” exclaims the player when asked how It will be the coexistence with his future companions.
“My family needs to go to the shelters four times a day”
This response contrasts when Lasri is asked if he sees a possible solution to the conflict in which both Israelis and Palestinians can coexist in the geographical area in dispute. Yosra, a Palestinian woman with whom he grew up and who is part of the tens of thousands of people who have been swept up in the military confrontation, worked in his house. “Unfortunately, after the horrors that happened in Israel, I think we will not be able to coexist on the same land”justifies Lasri.
The BSR Valladolid – Fundación Aliados player focuses, at all times, on the Hamas attack. “My family told me how he woke up on the morning of October 7. He did it with great fear, because the terrorists had entered our land. They murdered babies, women, children and the elderly in their homes. “They raped women and burned people alive,” he says, according to what the people he knows in the territory of the confrontation have told him.
“We also know that there are hostages in Gaza who were kidnapped. My family needs to go to the shelters three or four times a day and most of the people who live near the front have been evacuated,” defends Maor Lasri, firm and convinced of his position. From there he sends a final message when asked how he imagines the future: “I hope that after this war we can have a few years of peace in Israel. For my part, I want to play for the best teams in Europe and compete in the Paralympic Games with my team.”