Photo: Oren Aharoni
Guy Pnini
Photo: Oren Aharoni

Nazis on the court

Op-ed: Israeli sports fans using Holocaust terms draw their 'inspiration' from media, politics

Guy Pnini, captain of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball club, was suspended and fined NIS 100,000 for calling a rival player "Nazi." Hapoel Tel Aviv's fans did not wait for the harsh verdict and waved banners reading "Pnini to the gas (chambers)" during a match of the club's soccer team. Hapoel fans regularly use Holocaust songs to taunt Maccabi fans, while Maccabi fans compare Hapoel supporters to terrorists and Hezbollah members.


Heated verbal exchanges between fans during soccer and basketball games are not an Israeli invention; this is a global phenomenon. The use of Holocaust terms did not begin in the stands. The sports fans drew their "inspiration" from the media, and mainly politics, where such terms are used regularly.


Sports Minister Limor Livnat jumped on the opportunity because she knows how easy it is to use Holocaust terms for political gain. When the head of her party, the prime minister, compares Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah to Hitler and the Iranian threat to the threat the Jewish nation faced 70 years ago, it is no wonder that Livni allows herself to intervene in a pathetic way and call on teams to walk off the court when Nazi slurs are hurled from the stands.


The Holocaust is the biggest trauma in the Jewish people's history. No one has ownership over this trauma, and we all deal with it differently. The cynical use of Holocaust terms is mainly indicative of our lack of ability to deal in a mature manner with a complex reality that cannot be explained or resolved in terms of "black or white."


Sports fans will always look for the most hurtful insults. "Nazi" or "Hezbollah" are the "Ben Zona (son of a bitch)" of the new millennium. With politicians the situation is much more severe. Like elephants in a china shop, they maneuver within the complex diplomatic and military arenas, replace actual work with spins and prefer the shallow "talkbacker" truth to dealing maturely with a grey reality. They want to convince us that we should attack Iran without America's consent? Simple: This is the only way to prevent a second Holocaust.


Everything is shallow. Everything is measured in terms of knockouts and momentary victories. Abbas is infuriating? We'll show him. Abbas rears his head? Our fist will land on his face in the fiercest and most inelegant fashion.


It is only a matter of time before the Palestinian president, like Iran's president, will be accused of following in the footsteps of Hitler, and we will remind the critical and annoying Europeans how they cooperated and let the Holocaust happen on their soil, which is soaked in Jewish blood.


When someone irritates us, he is undoubtedly a "Nazi" – regardless of whether he is the leader of a terrorist state, the prime minister of a European country or just some basketball player who is blocking our path to the hoop.


We are quick to use the Holocaust for our own needs, while at the same time we are shocked by how it has been cheapened. What do those who survived the real Holocaust – those whose needs are ignored by the State of Israel – say to themselves? Perhaps they are saying that if we were to redirect our "sensitivity" to Holocaust songs in the stands toward those who survived the Holocaust but find it difficult to survive reality, we would be doing them – and ourselves – a big favor.



פרסום ראשון: 12.06.12, 19:00
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