Wednesday 12 June 2013

The real victory behind Israel's defeat of England.

The real victory behind Israel’s defeat of England in the UEFA European Under 21 Football Championships was not the 1-0 scoreline.

Precisely at a time when Israel is being falsely denigrated as a racist and apartheid state its Under 21 football team pulled off a win against mighty England in Jerusalem.

A significance of this game was that the English players had been targeted by anti-Israel activists to boycott the tournament. The extremists failed to appreciate that they were demanding English players to refuse the honor of playing for their country, and to do so for a false cause. To their credit, none of the players bowed to their demand.

What was so special about this victory, in light of that demand not to participate because of the racist and apartheid nature of Israel, was the make-up of the Israeli team. Let me profile some of the Israeli players for the benefit of the many talent scouts and football agents that came to watch the football in Israel, and also for the anti-Israel activists.

Ahed Azam is an Israeli Arab midfield player who plays for Hapoel Haifa. He has represented Israel since 2008. Eli Das, a defender, plays for Beitar Jerusalem. He was born in Israel of Ethiopian parents. In my opinion, he was the man of the match for Israel. Taleb Tawatha plays left back for Maccabi Haifa. This Israeli Arab player has represented Israel since 2007. Another Israeli Arab player in the Israeli national squad is Marwan Kabha. He plays midfield for Maccabi Petach Tikva. Sintayehu Sallallich was born in Kwana, Ethiopia. He is a winger now playing for Ironi Kiriat Shmona and has made nine appearances for Israel. Mohammed Kalibat is a talented Israeli Arab player whose position is as a left wing forward. He plays for Beni Sakhnin and has played for Israel since 2010. Moanes Dabour is a striker with great promise for the future. This Israeli Arab player was born in Nazareth, plays for Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv, and has played for Israel since 2010.

These players were selected on their merits. What was striking about Israel’s win was their interplay and teamwork both in attack and, particularly, in defense. It is hoped that more Israeli players of all backgrounds, color, and religions, will be seen playing in , and other European countries, as a result of the UEFA European Under 21 showcase.

‘Kick racism out of football’ has been a global campaign in sport for many years. It is now obvious that this does not apply to Israel where the total lack of racism was clear for everyone to see in the Israeli national squad. Where racism really exists is with the extremists who try to stigmatize Israel by falsely branding it, and only Israel, as racist. This is the malevolent lie behind the anti-Israel boycott campaign. It is where true racism exists. It is time to kick these racists out of sports. 
The true face of Israel was on display during the EUFA European Under 21 Championships held successfully in Israel. That was the real victory behind Israel’s defeat of England.

Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ He is also the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center of Netanya Academic College.

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