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Photo: Gil Nechushtan
Beitar fans (archive photo)
Photo: Gil Nechushtan
Arab soccer strike, now
Op-ed: Time has come to put an end to ‘death to Arabs’ chants at Israeli soccer stadiums

The recent bout of rioting by Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans at a local mall started as a violent victory celebration, yet within a short while turned into a flurry of “death to Arab” chants and assaults.

 

The Israel Police did not deal with the riot because “no official complaint was filed.” Meanwhile, the Israeli soccer association did not deal with the “death to Arabs” singing by fans of another team, SC Ashdod, during a game, because the referees did not see or hear anything.

 

We’ve had enough of this.

 

This year, 55 Arabs play in Israel’s top soccer league. Eleven of them play for the Arab-Israeli team in Sakhnin, six play for Maccabi and Hapoel Haifa, five play for Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Tel Aviv, and so on.

 

Had I been a player and heard fans chanting or singing “death to the Jews” during a game, I would step off the field. The time has come for Arab players to take action and launch a strike in protest. We just can’t have a situation whereby a country that fights racism and anti-Semitism is willing to tolerate mass racism.

 

Thousands of people are tainting the reputation of all of us, while the soccer association punishes the teams, as if they are at fault. Running into the soccer pitch is a criminal offence, yet never in our history was a fan arrested for it. Indeed, criminals are being thrown out of the stadiums, only to return the following week.

 

A strike by Israel’s Arab soccer players would cause us such global shame that it may prompt the police to start arresting and dealing with racists in the stadiums. I call for a strike by Arab soccer players, now!

 

 

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