The Cancellation of a Soccer Match Isn’t a Victory for BDS

June 14 2018

Last week, Argentina’s national soccer team announced that it would not be participating in a friendly match scheduled to take place in Jerusalem this weekend. The reason? Multiple death threats made against the Argentinian soccer players and their families. In response to the announcement, the former terrorist and current head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, has claimed a victory. Ben Cohen comments:

[I]s the decision of Argentina’s Football Association an uncomplicated victory for the BDS hate campaign targeting Israel? The answer is no, for several reasons. To begin with, nowhere in its announcement of the cancellation did Argentina’s national soccer authority declare political solidarity with the Palestinians, condemn Israel or, critically, endorse a ban on sporting links with Israeli teams. . . . The world’s soccer [teams] are not boycotting Israel, and in the four years since the last World Cup [competition], Israel has hosted national [teams] from Spain, Wales, Albania, Bosnia, Italy, Uruguay, and Cyprus for both competitive and friendly matches. All of these games have been played at different stadiums in Israel, among them the supposedly controversial Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem where the Argentina match was to have taken place.

[On the other side] is Rajoub himself. His campaign to have Israel expelled from FIFA (world soccer’s governing body), replete with vile anti-Semitic comparisons between the Jewish state and Nazi Germany, failed miserably in 2015. A more recent effort to have FIFA sanction Israel’s Football Association over West Bank-based teams competing in the country’s national league similarly petered out, leading Rajoub to accuse European soccer chiefs of feeling overly guilty about what “some European countries did to the Jews last century.” (He means the Shoah.)

So how is it that Rajoub is suddenly able to boast of a political victory handed to him, he says, by the Argentine captain and megastar Lionel Messi, perhaps the most revered soccer player in the world? . . . Rajoub issued a series of vulgar threats against Messi, promising, should the game go ahead, to burn Messi replica T-shirts, souvenir photos, and wall posters . . . on social media. Reports of death threats on social media against the Argentine players quickly followed.

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More about: Argentina, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Soccer

 

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East