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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776
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NYT: Fans Mirror Israel’s Racism—Ignores Europe’s Hate Stadiums

The offensive "purity" sign carried by a group Beitar Jerusalem fans.

The offensive "purity" sign carried by a group Beitar Jerusalem fans.
Photo Credit: Flash90

The Wiesenthal Center’s Cooper responded to The Jewish Press, “to extrapolate from the rowdy and unforgivable behavior of Beitar sports fans to suggest racism is dripping in the streets of Jerusalem is absurd.”

Nidal Othman is the second “expert” used by the NYT, and the one from whom the word “mirror” was lifted to place in the headline.  Othman is a lawyer for the Mossawa Center in Israel, and director of the Coalition Against Racism in Israel (CARI).

The Mossawa Center is perhaps best known in the west for a document it produced in 2007.  That document proclaimed that Israel is an inherently racist state, and that the Israeli flag and Israeli national anthem had to be scrapped because they are racist.  In addition, the Mossawa Center demanded that all Israeli schools teach students that 1948 was “al Nakba,” the Disaster, because of the creation of the Jewish State in the Middle East.

Othman is quoted in the NYT article, “When talking about Beitar, it’s actually showing a mirror for the Israeli society.”  He also says of Israel, “”The political leaders and the religious leaders of the community are feeding the society with different racist incitements – against Arabs at all, against Muslims at all and against different groups in Israel.”

The website mission statement of Othman’s organization states that it seeks “to decrease racism in Israel, ” and to “delegitimize racism in all its forms.”  But its site  doesn’t mention a single incident of anti-Semitism or of Arab terrorism against Jews.  Nonetheless, Othman is described in the article as a civil and human rights advocate.

While the NYT mentioned the imposition of a fine for the Beitar fans’ behavior, it suggested the punishment was only  imposed due to “concerns that the episode could threaten Israel’s scheduled hosting of a European Under 21 soccer tournament in June.”  The article neglected to mention that there had already been a racist outcry concerning the European Under 21 Soccer tournament.  The racism in that case, however, was by European anti-Israel soccer fans who were protesting against the playing of any tournament games in Israel.

And that isn’t the only anti-Israel, anti-Semitic exhibitions by European soccer fans of late.  There have been athletic events marred by violence, hatred, Nazi-imagery and loud protests across Europe, from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Holland.  Yet the vile behavior of those fans is not held up by the NYT as a mirror of Europe as a whole.

The NYT article does more than simply rely on Israelis who consider it their professional calling to label Israel as racist.  It also does not quote anyone from the other side to counter that claim.

Not one of the experts, officials and laymen who are quoted in the NYT article about the Beitar fans, offers a different position than the apparent premise of the article: Israel is just as racist as its worst sports fans.

But perhaps the headline was – however intentionally – correct, as a mirror’s reflection always reverses reality.

Instead of a mirror reflection, the NYT Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren should have been attempting to portray reality.  Had the article also included the views of all the Israeli officials, team players, the owner and the citizens who reject racism – a flaw they  recognize and want to defeat – the story and its headline would not have presented such a distorted view of reality.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com

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