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.