Posts Tagged ‘Nir Barkat’
Like Europeans, Israelis are mad for their soccer. For some, soccer is the true religion of the Middle East, one shared by Muslims and Jews alike.
But just as in Europe, not all soccer fans follow the normal rules of civility, and the behavior of some fans of one Israeli soccer team in particular, Jerusalem Beitar, has been reprehensible. Beitar was the last of the 30 Israeli soccer teams without any Muslim players. The anti-Muslim racism of its fans has led to Beitar being banned from some soccer matches and being fined, as well as having demonstrations by Israelis denouncing their behavior.
When Beitar management last week brought in two Muslims from Chechnya to join the team, the response by the haters was ugly, if not unexpected. Despite official efforts to celebrate the inclusion of Muslims into the Beitar family as an important Israeli value, some fans responded at a game over the weekend with shameful calls for “Beitar purity,” and unfurled a vicious banner: “Beitar, pure forever.”
But today’s New York Times story about the incident is shocking in its narrow focus and excessive reliance on Israel haters to suggest that the racism of the worst Beitar fans accurately reflects Israeli society.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told The Jewish Press by telephone from Berlin, “You want to know what “mirrors” Israeli society? Walk in the Mamilla Mall on a Saturday night, Arabs and Israelis, Muslims and Jews, all strolling, eating and shopping together – that’s the mirror of Israeli society.”
The official response to the boorishness was swift and unequivocal: the team was fined 50,000 NIS ($ 13,400) and 50 of the worst offenders were banned from an upcoming match.
Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon slammed the ugly behavior, saying “I was shocked by the racism displayed in the Beitar Jerusalem stands yesterday against having Muslim or Arab players on the team.”
“We cannot ignore these displays of racism which not long ago were directed – and are still being directed – towards the Jewish people,” he wrote on Twitter.
And in a show of solidarity, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat attended the Tuesday press conference welcoming the Muslim Chechen players, Zaur Sadayev and Gabriel Kadiev, who had previously played on the premier Russian team Terek Grozny.
Barkat said, “I want to tell viewers around the world that we will not put up with racism or violence. This is an ethical statement that goes out from Jerusalem to the world.”
And Beitar’s team captain Amit Ben-Shushan said at the press conference welcoming the new players, “We do not engage in politics. As far as we’re concerned, we will do our best to welcome the players in the best possible fashion.”
The Russian-born billionaire owner of Beitar, Arkady Gaydamak, rejected the nasty response to the new players, telling Israeli Army Radio last week that the “small group of so-called supporters of the team do not represent the general opinion of the Israeli public, and they should not be allowed to win.”
No one suggests there is no racism in Israel or amongst Israeli sports fans – far from it. A horrible incident received a lot of attention last spring when Beitar fans, chanting “death to the Arabs” after a game in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium poured into the nearby Malha Mall, where Arab workers were allegedly assaulted by some participants.
But the only “experts” quoted in the NYT article are ones whose professional livelihood is built and dependent upon denouncing Israel as a racist society.
For example, Professor Moshe Zimmerman, chair of Hebrew University’s German Studies Department, is quoted as expressing strong support for the article’s headline, that the racist Beitar fans reflect Israeli society.
It might have been useful for readers of the NYT article to know that Zimmerman was chastised by the relatively restrained Anti-Defamation League as far back as 2005, for repeatedly comparing the Israeli Defense Forces and authorities to Nazis.
Yet the NYT writer places Zimmerman as the first expert in the article. “People in Israel usually try to locate Beitar Jerusalem as some kind of the more extreme fringe; this is a way to overcome the embarrassment,” and Zimmerman continues, “the fact is that the Israeli society on the whole is getting more racist, or at least more ethnocentric, and this is an expression.”
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The Managing Editor of The Jewish Press Online,Yishai Fleisher, recently attended a conference on the status of jerusalem and had the opportunity to record a question and answer session with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who talks about current state of Jerusalem and how it contrasts to its history and also plans for the future. Don’t miss the question asked to the mayor by Yishai at 7:07! The segment moves on to Yishai speaking Rabbi Benny Elon, a leader in the Religious Zionist movement and former member of the Israeli Knesset. The segment wraps up with presentations from leaders in the pro-Jerusalem world including Josh Reinstein, director of the Christian Allies Conference in the Knesset.
Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill museum and memorial were vandalized Sunday night with anti-Zionist slogans, two days before Israel’s Memorial Day.
“Gunter Grass was right” and “lousy Zionists” were spray painted on the famous Six Day War battle site, as well as epithets against President Shimon Peres and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
The battle of Ammunition Hill, hard fought in trenches and ultimately coming to serve as a symbol of Israeli bravery and yearning for Jerusalem, cost the lives of 36 Israeli soldiers. Jordan lost 71 soldiers in the battle.
Site manager Katri Maoz told Army Radio that there was also an attempt to burn the large Israeli flag flown at the site. A Biblical verse engraved in the stone at the Memorial of the Sons, a memorial to soldiers who fell in other battles who were the children of soldiers who had fought at Ammunition Hill, was painted over in black.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the attack and commissioned a special municipal team to clean the site in time for Wednesday’s Memorial Day ceremonies.
A new feature-length documentary starring one of Harvard University’s all-time most popular professors reveals the secret components of Israel’s success as an international leader in innovation and humanitarianism.
Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference stars Tal Ben-Shahar, former Harvard University professor of Positive Psychology, who left his post as the lecturer of the formidable institution’s most popular course to return to Israel with his family. In the film, produced by JerusalemOnlineU.com, Ben-Shahar breaks down and analyzes the five unique characteristics he says have combined to give Israel its unusually high level of national actualization.
Though Israel is populated by just over 7 million people, it is the third highest represented nation on the New York Stock Exchange, and is considered a world leader in science and technology advancement. Through the course of the film, Ben-Shahar takes the viewer on a journey to discover what unique mix of factors or “actualizers” have contributed to this fact, and to the success of Israel as a nation of innovation.
“None of these actualizers are in and of themselves unique to Israel,” Ben-Shahar says. “But in combination, they are bringing about an almost unparalleled progress and success and contribution to the world.” The factors explored in the film are family, turning adversity into advantage, “chutzpah”, education, taking action, and the Jewish drive to do “tikkun olam” – repairing the world.
“What we need to communicate about Israel is that it goes far, far beyond ‘the conflict’, Ben-Shahar told Jewish Press’ Yishai Fleisher. “Yes, we’re in the midst of a conflict, and at the same time we’re also a thriving nation, we’re able to do wonderful, amazing things for ourselves as well as for the world. Our contribution to other nations, to our global village, is disproportionate to our size, and especially commendable given our geopolitical situation.”
The film features numerous projects related to giving, development, and increasing quality of life for Jews and non-Jews in Israel and around the world in the areas of science, environment, medicine, and technology, and includes interviews with Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO of electric vehicle service provider Better Place, Naty Barak, CEO and Head of Sustainable Development at micro-irrigation solutions company Netafim Industries, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, Tamar Jehuda-Cohen, Founder and CTO of Smart Biotech, historian Sir Martin Gilbert, Birthright founder Michael Steinhardt, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and others.
JerusalemOnlineU.com is an online portal for Jewish distance learning offering courses in the basics of Judaism, Israeli history, Positive Psychology, Cinema, and Jewish concepts.
Since leaving Harvard, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herziliya. He is the author of international best sellers Happier and Being Happy, which have been translated into 25 languauges.
JERUSALEM – Thousands gathered at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center, the Kotel and yeshivot across Israel Tuesday praying for Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv – Yosef Shalom ben Chaya Mousha – the 101-year-old leading contemporary authority on Jewish law who was in a medically induced coma after suffering kidney and lung failure.
Prayers were also being said in yeshivot and synagogues in New York and other cities around the world.
Several haredi Knesset members and close relatives visited Rav Elyashiv on Tuesday. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat arrived in the afternoon. Israeli president Shimon Peres said “The entire nation is concerned about the condition of the leader of the Torah world.”
According to the Israeli Kikar Shabbat website, doctors were guardedly optimistic late Tuesday as Rav Elyashiv’s condition showed signs of improvement; his system was stabilizing and there reportedly was a resumption of kidney function.
Rav Elyashiv has been in and out of the hospital several times during the past few months. Despite his tenuous health, he continued to return to his modest apartment in Meah Shearim and maintained a fairly full daily schedule. As the titular head of the haredi Degel HaTorah political faction in the Knesset, he was also briefed on major developments affecting the yeshiva world.