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

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times