In Scotland, Israel Denounced for ‘Apartheid’; Its Soccer Team Begs to Differ


“Apartheid.” An “Apartheid State.” Israel=South Africa. It’s one of the constant themes of the Anti-Israel International. At a soccer game in Scotland, outside the stadium where an Israeli team was playing, the pro-Palestinian protesters were out in force, unfurling their Palestinian flags, and yet again denouncing the “apartheid” of the only state in the Middle East where people of all religions and ethnicities are treated equally. Here’s the story of that Israeli soccer team.

Friday evening. It was in the 72nd minute of a game between Israel and Scotland (the Celtics) in the Nation’s League. Israel had a throw-in deep in the Scottish half. There was a quick one-two between the Israeli number seven and their number nine. Goal! And the score was 1:1.

No this is not going to be a post about soccer, but that move, slicing apart the Scottish defense, is important here. The two players involved were Israel’s Eran Zahavi and Moanes Dabour. Dabour is an Israeli Muslim. The Israeli team captain Bibras Natkho is also from a Muslim family. There are also other Arab Israelis in the squad, such as Joel Abu Hanna (who was a substitute). Left back Taleb Tawatha is an Israeli Bedouin. Hatem Abu Elhamed is an Israeli Arab. Elhamed also plays for the rival Celtics, alongside another Israeli — Nir Biton.

Outside the ground, there was an anti-Israel demonstration shouting about Israeli “apartheid.” A group of Celtic supporters had arrived to protest too. Just one look at the team sheet exposes that disgraceful smear for the antisemitic hate-filled lie that it clearly is. The Muslim and Jewish players on the Israeli team all live in the same country under the same laws. They all vote and have representation in the Middle East’s only democracy. Israel’s Arabs are, by a country mile, living in the freest nation in the region….

The day started with extremists vandalizing the entrance to the stadium. Activists had smeared red paint across the floor and written the words “Palestinian blood” on the walls….

When Scotland played the serial human rights abuser Russia, there was no protest. In 2015, Scotland played Qatar — and the Scottish activists made no complaint. Only when the Jewish state sends its football team do Scotland’s “human rights” activists turn up to demonstrate….

“Apartheid” in Israel. Let’s take another look at the Israeli soccer team. There is the Jewish player Eran Zahavi, who with his teammate Moanes Dabour, an Israeli Muslim, “sliced through” the Scottish Celtic defense. The Israeli team captain, Bibras Natkho, is a Circassian Muslim. Joel Abu Hanna and Hatem Abu Elhamed are both Israeli Arabs. Loai Taha is another Israeli Arab who has been called up to play for the National Team. Left back Taleb Tawatha is an Israeli Bedouin. Eli Dasa is an Ethiopian Jew. There was no apartheid among the Israelis playing inside the stadium, though the shrill cries of “apartheid” could be heard outside. And there is no “apartheid” in any of the other sports teams that Israel sends abroad.

Nor is there any “apartheid” anywhere in Israel. Jews and Arabs study together in the same universities, work in the same factories and offices, are treated in the same hospitals, play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras. As citizens of the Middle East’s only democracy, Arabs have exactly the same civil and religious rights as Jews. Arabs sit in the Knesset, where the Arab Joint List constitutes the third largest political bloc, and the current Deputy Speaker is an Arab. Arabs serve on the Supreme Court. Arabs represent their country, Israel, abroad as high-ranking diplomats. The only difference in the treatment of Jews and Arabs in Israel is this: Arabs are exempt from the requirement that they serve in the IDF, though they are welcome to do so. Hundreds of Muslim Bedouins, and Christian Arabs, as well as an increasing number of Muslim Arabs, are now soldiers – and officers – in the IDF.

None of that will make any difference to most of those outside that Scottish stadium screaming about “Israel an apartheid state.” But still, let’s not leave the field to them, nor ignore the large number of uncommitted onlookers who are not sure what to believe. The next time such an unsavory scene materializes, outside a sports stadium or a music festival where Israelis may be participating, and the squalid squad of “Israel=Apartheid” demonstrators shows up, defenders of Israel should come ready with a prepared pamphlet of facts, to hand out both to those who are busy denouncing Israel, and to those who don’t know quite what to think, and have never been given the facts that expose the full absurdity of that “apartheid charge.” That page, or possibly two, will contain critical “anti-apartheid information.” This would include a list of the names of the nearly one hundred Arabs who have served in the Knesset, including Ahmad Tibi, the current Deputy Speaker, the names the Arabs who have served on Israel’s Supreme Court (Abdel Rahman Zuaibi, Salim Joubran, and George Kara), the names of Arabs who have served as Israel’s diplomats, the names of Arab Israelis who have gained prominence at Israeli universities, and the names of those Arab doctors, in Israel, like the much-praised five doctors in the Majadlas family, who are on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The same information could be displayed on placards held up to the faces of the anti-Israel demonstrators – these facts that will then be hard to miss or dismiss, and impossible to explain away.

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