I’ve claimed here before that racism and hate-talk towards Arabs are becoming more and more legitimate in Israel. You find racism everywhere these days: in the comments on all major news sites, in the Knesset, on Facebook groups, and on football grounds.
On Tuesday evening, Beitar Jerusalem, the most popular football team in Israel, won the League cup after beating Maccabi Haifa 2:1 in the final. Beitar’s fans celebrated the event with their typical racist songs, but this time, the channel 2 camera caught the players joining them in singing. On this link you can see Beitar’s young star, Amit Ben Shushan (who play on the Israeli national team as well), singing “I hate Salim Tuama (an Israeli Arab football star, who also plays for the national team), I hate all the Arabs”. Other players joined the songs as well.
When Beitar won the cup last year, the team’s players refused to shake the hand of (then) Arab Sports Minister, Raleb Majadele, due to of some comments he made towards the team and its fans. Beitar wasn’t punished for this, and one can assume this time won’t be different. But where Israeli Authorities fail, international institutions can help. The European Football Association should make it clear to the Israeli Association that this sort of behavior will result with the explusion of Israeli teams, starting with Beitar, from International competitions. As a football fan, this is something that will be very painful for me, but I don’t see any other option right now.