A new show on Channel 2, "The Newsroom," aired a short segment this week called "To the extreme," where it brings two people together from different ideological backgrounds. This first week brought a fan from Beitar Jerusalem and a player from Bnei Sakhnin, a club from the Arab town in the Galilee of the same name. Dudi Mizrahi belongs to La Familia, an extreme fan club of Beitar Jerusalem, one of the capital's soccer teams. I've written about La Familia before, and I've heard people like Mizrahi speak like this for years. Decades. But not on prime time TV, where…Read More... | 10 Comments
The recent success in dealing with racism on the soccer field could be an example of how to deal with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Except when taking into consideration that an extreme act of violence was 'needed' first. My colleague Noam Sheizaf wrote recently about the racism of the Israeli soccer club Beitar Jerusalem. Tensions were running high in the club after it signed two Muslim players from Chechnya, and the hardcore right-wing fans - part of an organization called La Familia - were probably behind the act of arson that took place at the club’s headquarters in Jerusalem. After the arson,…Read More... | 7 Comments
The issue of racism and Islamophobia among Beitar Jerusalem fans was considered an 'unsolvable problem' – until it was solved. One of the nastiest problem in Israeli soccer is about to get better, if not completely disappear: The issue of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism among fans, players and staff. This is a decades-long problem in some clubs, the most well-known – but certainly not the only - being Beitar Jerusalem, which developed over the year a counter-culture that had a distinctive racist feature in it. The case got much attention lately, but unlike reports in the international media suggested, the problem's roots…Read More... | 4 Comments
Over the violent protests of its fascist fan club, Beitar Jerusalem makes good on its promise to bring two Muslim players onto team. A small victory over racism, but a victory nonetheless. Even if it's a drop in the ocean, it's a pretty big drop: the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, symbol of Israeli racism at its rawest, has been integrated with Muslim players - and it was done, in a manner of speaking, over the dead bodies of the team's fascist youth movement, La Famiglia. The turning point came in the middle of the night last Thursday when arsonists torched…Read More... | 8 Comments
Imagine this: You’re sitting in the bleachers at a Yankee game. You brought The New York Times with you, just in case things get slow. Or at least for the seventh-inning stretch. You read about how Steinbrenner is considering buying a new player from Haiti, or the Dominican Republic. Suddenly, you lift your head and see a huge flag hovering over the fans, written in large black print: “NO SPICKS!” You drop your beer, right? Well, that’s pretty much what happened during a Beitar Jerusalem game. During a league game last night, Beitar fans rolled out a sign saying, “Beitar,…Read More... | 13 Comments
It's hard to say which is worse - the behavior of racist fans, or the tacit approval they get from Israeli sports officials and media. I like to think that if you discount for the century of fighting with Arabs, Israel is still plenty racist, but no more than most societies. I remind myself that even the absolute worst display of Israeli racism - the chanting of monkey noises ("hoo-hoo-hoo!! hoo-hoo-hoo!!") and the throwing of bananas at black players during soccer games - has been going on in Europe, too, and probably elsewhere. But what happened this week to Nigerian-born…Read More... | 43 Comments
End the occupation and the militarism, which are conspicuous in the democratic world today but not in its history, and this could be a pretty cool place. I try not to go out of my way to write good things about Israel, but I also try not to go out of my way not to write good things about Israel, because, among other reasons, it's important to remember that for all the justified criticism and condemnation, there's something worth saving here. In that spirit, I want to take issue with a growing view that Israel is a violent society and becoming…Read More... | 19 Comments
Last Monday, a mob of Beitar Jerusalem football fans rioted at the Malcha Shopping Center. Notorious for their racism, the fans' chants often include "MAH-vet l'araVEEM" - death to Arabs; this can be heard in the amateur video below, starting from 2:36. As Haaretz reports, hundreds of Beitar hooligans swarmed into the mall following a game at the nearby Teddy Stadium. They "hurl[ed] racial abuse at Arab workers and customers and chanting anti-Arab slogans, and filled the food hall on the second floor." Then they mobbed three Arab women eating with their children in the food hall, yelling epithets and spitting on them. Some…Read More... | 58 Comments
A group of artists have replaced the front page in hundreds of copies of the Israel Hayom daily paper. The new headline declared that the separation regime in occupied Hebron is ending. An anonymous group that identified itself only as "artists for Israel tomorrow" has distributed hundreds of copies of a "utopian" version of Israel Hayom ["Israel Today"], with a cover story announcing the end of the limitations of freedom of movement for Palestinians in occupied Hebron. Israel Hayom is the most widely read paper in Israel. It is distributed for free, and at considerable losses, at the expense of gambling…Read More... | 6 Comments
The league’s most racist team is in deep trouble, and two of the league’s top scorers are Arab. What more could a guy ask for? Something very cool is happening in the Israeli Premier League. First of all, two of the league’s top scorers are Arab. As of today, Ahmed Saba, who plays for Maccabi Netanya, is leading the league with 15 goals. Wiam Amashe, who plays for Maccabi Haifa, is tied for second place with 13 goals together with Toto Tamuz and Omer Damari. As Yoav Borovitz of Haaretz wrote [Heb] a few weeks ago, the last time an Arab…Read More... | 14 Comments
A California Jew, who sits on the board of directors of the Israel Policy Forum, buys the most famous team in Israel, Beitar Jerusalem. Hopefully, he'll do better in soccer than he did in politics... Running for office with the slogan "Send a mentsch to Congress"? I mean, come on... Could this be the making of another Daniel in the Lion’s Den? Maybe, if calling him “Dan” is acceptable. Dan Adler, along with business partner Adam Levine, yesterday became the proud owners Israel’s most-famous soccer team, Beitar Jerusalem. (As far as I can tell, this is not the Adam Levine…Read More... | 4 Comments
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