Re-posting this due to repeated deletes:
There seems to be an indisputable mix-up regarding Israeli football from an Arab/Muslim perspective. The dialogue surrounding this issue has generally been airy and indifferent.
The entire Muslim community and presumably certain human rights activists had been calling for the boycott of the UEFA U-21 championships in Israel. Their argument being that a nation that does not allow freedom for the movement of players as an oppressor is against all that what football and FIFA stands for, is not entitled to host this sacred and prestigious tournament (or any).
Yes, the Israelis have made life a living hell for the Palestinians in general. Yes, as a result Palestinian football had suffered. Yes, one of its many notable athletes – Mahmoud Sarsak was detained, tortured and kept away from his family and football for a long time. And yes, Palestinians had to look towards its Chilean diaspora to make up the numbers in the team every time they play an international.
As a Muslim, I get the point but why should Israeli football suffer for something that is not of their doing, especially when Israeli Arabs, who make up around 20% of the country’s population, are well represented?
In our attempt to convince the international community to put pressure on Israel for its wrongdoings, we always bring it to the point of us (Muslims) versus them (Jews), no matter which corner of the world we live in.
Don’t get me wrong. It always hurts to see a brother or sister of the religion being persecuted in many ways, but to be fair, Jews did not have it easy back in the day. But they managed to stick together and get past all that to build one of the strongest, successful and a very closely-knit group of people that the world can see today.
Us – Muslims – ehhhh, not so much. It was meant to be. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) envisioned this and informed us of this present condition of ours way back.
I had a Palestinian friend at Grad school in Connecticut who was shot in the leg by Fatah members as he sported the colors of Hamas. When Israel aggresses, Fatah and Hamas unite to fight for the common good. And when Israel backs off, they get on each other’s nerves. As I always advise, we need to solve our own “shit” first before we look towards our neighbors.
Obviously, the key here is to move past these thoughts and to work together to create a unified and an all-encompassing football community free of ridicule. Now, let’s go on and enjoy the finals between Spain & Italy tonight.