The Gaza: The World Cup and politics

abbas suan.jpg
Abbas Suan, as an Arab-Israeli, not just another soccer player
We take it for granted that we can see the World Cup on ESPN/ ABC and if we don’t want to suffer Marcelo Balboa and Dave O’Brien’s retarded commentary, we have the option of switching to the Univision channel that more than makes up for our incomprehension of the commentary with its excitement and passion.
But on Tony Karon’s blog we learn that Marcelo Balboa and Dave O’Brien’s commentary or any commentary on the World Cup would be welcome in Palestine. The Israelis have knocked out the power in Gaza and the Palestinians there have not be able to see any of the World Cup since the quarterfinals began. The Israelis have also bombed the water supply, and subjected the Gaza populace to sleep depriving sonic booms. They have cordoned of the Gaza and it is only due to the pressure of humanitarian groups that essential supplies are now reaching the Gazans. The Gazans are being punished because an Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas supporters who are demanding in exchange the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. This comes a few days after the Israelis killed seven in a Palestinian family vacationing in a Gaza beach in barrage of fire from an Israeli gunboat ostensibly to knockout a battery of Qassam rockets operating in a nearby village. The IDF after their investigation absolved their forces of any wrongdoing and blamed it on a hidden bomb in the Gaza beach that exploded.
The brutality of the Israeli response to Gilad Shalit’s capture is to subject the Gazan population to a collective punishment. The punishment for electing a Hamas government, an organization ironically supported by the Israelis, in the early 60’s as a countervail to the PLF led by Yasser Arafat. Hamas over the years has provided the Palestinians with hope that they would end the decades of cronyism and corruption of Arafat’s PLO and Fatah, with their extra-ordinary work in building one of the Middle East’s biggest charitable foundation of hospitals and social welfare programs for the beleaguered Palestinians.
Soccer has long been a staple for the Palestinians to forget their suffering under occupation. The World Cup every four years brings a respite to lay aside their problems for a month or so. Palestine cannot compete in the World Cup as it is not recognized as a country. But Israel can. This year’s World Cup was a very close affair as Israel was on the brink of qualifying for the first time after the 1970 World Cup. The player that ignited their hopes was Abbas Suan, an Arab, who scored a goal that tied Israel with Ireland in the 90th minute. He along with fellow Arab Israeli, Walid Badar and Salim Tuana provided Israel with a midfield that kept them close in the World Cup qualifiers. The Israel squad remained undefeated with 4 wins and 6 draws, eventually losing out to group qualifiers France and Switzerland. But for a moment these three players were instrumental in bringing amity between two inimical groups of people. The Palestinians were justly proud that they had representation in the Israeli squad (by origin) and the Isrealis could tout that they were a society that believed in pluralism.
The rise of Abbas Suan and Walid Badar was not achieved easily. Israeli fans would taunt them regularly, “Abbas Suan should get cancer”, rhyming it in Hebrew. Abbas Suan was born in Sakhnin, an Arab town in Galilee. This what the Israeli right wingers from Beitar Jerusalem would subject him and Bader to:
“Let the town of Sakhnin be burnt down”
“We hate all Arabs”
“We’d rather lose 0:10 to Ireland rather than have an Arab score a goal in our name! He doesn’t represent us!”
This really does not sound much different from the racial taunting seen in the Ultras, the Irreducibili, or the Delije in the Italian, Spanish, and Serbian Leagues.
CAMERA reminds us that this sort of racism is prevalent in soccer in many European countries with specific incidents involving Samuel Eto’o, Shaun Wright Philips, and Thierry Henry. We have highlighted the highly despicable racism that goes on in the Serie and La Liga. However, CAMERA glosses over the fact that Abbas Suan and Walid Bader are Israeli citizens, that they and their families chose to live in Israel. These are not players brought from outside like Samuel Eto’o to play for their league. In fact, Emmanuel Pappoe, the Ghanian midfielder who plays for Hapoel Tel Aviv is treated better than Suan and Bader, who are part of the state of Israel as citizens even if the state does not recognize them as Israeli nationals. These players have contributed to the Israeli team being considered as a serious contender in European football after more than 30 years.
One wonders as a matter of conjecture if the Israel squad had made it to this World Cup, and by another miracle, Suan and Badir guided the Israelis to the quarterfinals, what the response of the Olmert government would have been to the present conflagration? Seeing Suan and Badir on TV doing yeoman duty might have calmed things down on both sides.

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7 comments on “The Gaza: The World Cup and politics
  1. Great post, Shourin. Keeping the World Cup out of Gaza surely qualifies as inhumane punishment.
    Until people stop believing the ideology of hate (on both sides) we are alll stuck in the limbo of our own suffering inclicted by ourselves.

  2. brutal? How many Palestinian civilians have died during this operation–which, regardless of how anyone feels about the Arab-Israeli conflict, is clearly an Israeli reaction and attempt to rescue its kidnapped soldier snatched from across a border that Israel recently gave to the Palestinians, along with all the Gaza Strip (and what did Palestinans do with it? Send Qassam missiles into Israeli towns and kidnap Israelis from across the border.) Almost no civilians have been killed in this “brutal” response. And yet Hamas gets a free pass, and is even complimented in this post? Please, read their charter. See if they deserve such praise.

  3. Can we keep the political commentary to a minimum? Or set up a separate blog for this stuff? Your commentary is pure liberal BS straight from the DailyKos.
    Shilling for a terrorist organization is not something we should be doing here. Soccer unites because it gets us to talk about thinks other than religion and politics. Let’s keep it this way.
    Grosso’s “dive” is one thing; but getting into how BusHitler REALLY caused 9/11 is lame.

  4. Only in the US media are we seeing no mention of Israels’s stupidity.
    Here is a view which comes to us from Israel itself:
    Apparently some of us still have a better grip on what’s going on in Israel than others.
    Tilam, this is beyond politics.
    We should not allow ourselves and our government to become terrorists, which is in fact what has happened.
    So keep talking.

  5. There are many reasons to be critical of the US or Israeli policy, but moral equivalence (in this instance) is repulsive.
    To equate the President or US armed forces with the beheaders or to equate the IDF with people who strap on suicide belts to kill innocent civilans does a disservice to your argument.
    Clearly we are not perfect, but we are nowhere near them.
    Oh, and by the way, if they were in charge YOU (Sara) couldn’t express your opinion. Theirs is a Men Only club.

  6. No one is saying that Hamas are saints. What I’m saying is that everyone is guilty. Some more than others- especially when our government becomes a terror state.
    The proper response to terror is not to become a terror state yourself.

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