It is incomprehensible that one of the premier clubs in Israel doesn’t allow Arab players — because they are Arab.
By Asaf Marziano
The head of Palestinian Football Federation, Jibril Rajoub, is attempting to have Israel expelled from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. The topic has been making headlines in Israel and internationally in recent weeks, coinciding with a visit to the region by FIFA President Sepp Blatter last week.
Despite attempts by Israel, and Blatter, it seems that Rajoub’s initiative might bear fruit. The topic will come up for a vote in FIFA on Friday.
Rajoub’s stated reasons for wanting to expel Israel from the soccer association are based, among other things, on the fact that Israel often prevents athletes from Gaza — including soccer players — from taking part in sporting events in the West Bank. A prime example of this was when the Israeli government forbade Gazan runners from participating in the Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem in recent years.
Rajoub’s campaign evoked a chorus of reactions in the Israeli media. But don’t let the diversity of nay-sayers fool you: the central argument was monotone and one-dimensional. The topic was presented as a struggle between political forces — a new venue for confrontation among technocrats, bereft of any substantive arguments that get to the root of the issue. This goes for Hebrew-language Israeli media outlets like Ynet, Sport 5, One and NRG.
Even Haaretz dedicated a column to the issue earlier this month, in which Uzi Dann provided a similar point of view. He pondered why the Israeli government doesn’t exert its power at the highest political levels in order to solve this issue before it becomes a tidal wave.
At a certain point, Dann notes that the only country to ever be kicked out of FIFA was South Africa, during apartheid. For a moment it seemed like it was finally OK to make the comparison, but Dan immediately added: “True, it’s not the same thing, but it shows how difficult Israel’s situation is.” This is, not morally but pragmatically.
Sports commentator Ouriel Daskal suggested a different approach in a column published in the blog Soccerissue. Daskal makes clear that he is a leftist on every other day of the year, but that everything has red lines. He asks, how dare Rajoub exploit the sport in such...Read More