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Israelis toast Arab footballers

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  • Paul
    Israelis toast Arab footballers Friday 01 April 2005, 4:23 Makka Time, 1:23 GMT http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F0328E76-38EF-454F-8A69-8646635A1904.htm
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 31, 2005
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      Israelis toast Arab footballers
      Friday 01 April 2005, 4:23 Makka Time, 1:23 GMT
      http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F0328E76-38EF-454F-8A69-8646635A1904.htm

      Israel suddenly has two Arab heroes. In a country where Jewish-Arab
      alienation runs deep, a pair of critical goals in World Cup soccer have
      created an instant connection across the divide.

      For years, Abas Suan and Walid Badir endured racist taunts from the
      bleachers. Now they're the toast of the predominantly Jewish state.

      Badir scored Israel's only goal in a 1-1 tie with France on Wednesday in
      a World Cup qualifying match, repeating Suan's feat in a Saturday match
      against Ireland, keeping
      Israel in contention for a slot in the prestigious tournament.

      The two are among Israel's minority Arabs, who make up about 20% of
      Israel's 6.8 million people and describe themselves as second-class
      citizens, targets of discrimination in employment, education and living
      conditions.

      Divide

      Their rage has spilled over from time to time, but conversely, four
      years of Palestinian-Israeli violence has kindled Jewish anger against
      them for identifying with their relatives in the West Bank and Gaza.

      Most Israeli soccer teams have Arab players, and often they are greeted
      with racist chants when they touch the ball. Suan heard the epithets
      when he played for Israel's national team in a recent match in
      Jerusalem. "No Arabs, no terrorism," goes one of the slogans.

      Now that the two Arab players have rescued Israel's World Cup hopes,
      there's a new slogan featured in headlines in Israeli newspapers: "No
      Arabs, no goals."

      Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab member of parliament, said there are mixed
      feelings among Arabs about rooting for Israel in the fervor following
      the goals by Suan and Badir.

      "As Arabs we're normally pushed away from the Israeli political issues,
      and then suddenly we're pulled into this ultra-national patriotism,"
      Tibi said.

      Temporary healing

      The euphoria and goodwill of the moment may be fleeting, said Zouheir
      Bahloul, an Israeli Arab who broadcasts sports for Israel Radio and TV
      and is known for his sophisticated turns of the Hebrew phrase.

      Part of the problem is how Israel Arabs fit into Israel, dominated by
      its Jewish majority.

      Bahloul said when Israeli Arabs see the athletic heroics of Suan and
      Badir, they feel more a part of Israel. But sport creates a virtual
      reality, he said, generating successful examples for Arabs while doors
      continue to close for those trying to progress in other areas.

      "If the state can create more opportunities in other fields, this type
      of inspiration gives Arabs the confidence to make things happen for
      themselves," Bahloul said.

      Badir, a tall, rangy defender, burst into the penalty area and headed a
      bullet shot past famed French goaltender Fabien Barthez, salvaging a tie
      score.

      World Cup dream

      Badir's first comments were about his sport. "You have to give 200% in
      your job. I'm doing my best to fulfill my dream of reaching the World
      Cup," he said.

      But his family's history in Israel is tainted by conflict and tragedy.
      His grandfather was one of about 50 Arabs killed by Israeli border
      police in 1956 at the Arab town of Kafr Qasim in an incident described
      by Jewish Israelis as a terrible mishap and by Arabs as a massacre.

      Yet Badir stands at attention with the rest of the Israeli national
      soccer team as the Israeli anthem is sung before games, with its lyrics
      about Jews returning to their ancient land. It makes him uncomfortable.

      At a conference on racism in soccer last year, Badir hoped that one day
      the anthem would incorporate something that represents him as an Arab
      Israeli.

      "Then I'll be able to sing it as well," he said.

      Suan hopes the goodwill can endure, and he feels he's made a contribution.

      A native of Sakhnin, an Arab town in the northern part of the country,
      Suan said that through sports, athletes can set an example by relating
      to each other through friendship and
      dialogue.

      "I think we get along better than politicians do," Suan said.
      Agencies
    • Paul
      Friday 01 April 2005 Aljazeera Israelis toast Arab footballers http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F0328E76-38EF-454F-8A69-8646635A1904.htm Israel suddenly
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 2, 2005
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        Friday 01 April 2005 Aljazeera
        Israelis toast Arab footballers
        http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F0328E76-38EF-454F-8A69-8646635A1904.htm

        Israel suddenly has two Arab heroes. In a country where Jewish-Arab
        alienation runs deep, a pair of critical goals in World Cup soccer have
        created an instant connection across the divide.

        For years, Abas Suan and Walid Badir endured racist taunts from the
        fans. Now they are the toast of the predominantly Jewish state.

        Badir scored Israel's only goal in a 1-1 tie with France on Wednesday in
        a World Cup qualifying match, repeating Suan's feat in a Saturday match
        against Ireland, keeping Israel in contention for a slot in the
        prestigious tournament.

        The two are among Israel's minority Arabs, who make up about 20% of
        Israel's 6.8 million people and describe themselves as second-class
        citizens, targets of discrimination in employment, education and living
        conditions.

        Divide

        Their rage has spilled over from time to time, but conversely, four
        years of Palestinian-Israeli violence has kindled Jewish anger against
        them for identifying with their relatives in the West Bank and Gaza.

        Most Israeli soccer teams have Arab players, and often they are greeted
        with racist chants when they touch the ball. Suan heard the epithets
        when he played for Israel's national team in a recent match in
        Jerusalem. "No Arabs, no terrorism," goes one of the slogans.

        Now that the two Arab players have rescued Israel's World Cup hopes,
        there's a new slogan featured in headlines in Israeli newspapers: "No
        Arabs, no goals."

        "As Arabs we're normally pushed away from the Israeli political issues,
        and then suddenly we're pulled into this ultra-national patriotism"

        Ahmad Tibi
        Israeli Arab member of parliament

        Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab member of parliament, said there are mixed
        feelings among Arabs about rooting for Israel in the fervor following
        the goals by Suan and Badir.

        "As Arabs we're normally pushed away from the Israeli political issues,
        and then suddenly we're pulled into this ultra-national patriotism,"
        Tibi said.

        Temporary healing

        The euphoria and goodwill of the moment may be fleeting, said Zuhaeir
        Bahlul, an Israeli Arab who broadcasts sports for Israel Radio and TV
        and is known for his sophisticated turns of the Hebrew phrase.

        Part of the problem is how Israel Arabs fit into Israel, dominated by
        its Jewish majority.

        Bahlul said when Israeli Arabs see the athletic heroics of Suan and
        Badir, they feel more a part of Israel. But sport creates a virtual
        reality, he said, generating successful examples for Arabs while doors
        continue to close for those trying to progress in other areas.

        "If the state can create more opportunities in other fields, this type
        of inspiration gives Arabs the confidence to make things happen for
        themselves," Bahlul said.

        Badir, a tall, rangy defender, burst into the penalty area and headed a
        bullet shot past famed French goaltender Fabien Barthez, salvaging a tie
        score.

        World Cup dream

        Badir's first comments were about his sport. "You have to give 200% in
        your job. I'm doing my best to fulfil my dream of reaching the World
        Cup," he said.

        "You have to give 200% in your job. I'm doing my best to fulfil my dream
        of reaching the World Cup"

        Walid Badir,
        member of Israeli football team

        But his family's history in Israel is tainted by conflict and tragedy.
        His grandfather was one of about 50 Arabs killed by Israeli border
        police in 1956 at the Arab town of Kafr Qasim in an incident described
        by Jewish Israelis as a terrible mishap and by Arabs as a massacre.

        Yet Badir stands at attention with the rest of the Israeli national
        soccer team as the Israeli anthem is sung before games, with its lyrics
        about Jews returning to their ancient land. It makes him uncomfortable.

        At a conference on racism in soccer last year, Badir hoped that one day
        the anthem would incorporate something that represents him as an Arab
        Israeli.

        "Then I'll be able to sing it as well," he said.

        Suan hopes the goodwill can endure, and he feels he has made a contribution.

        A native of Sakhnin, an Arab town in the northern part of the country,
        Suan said that through sports, athletes can set an example by relating
        to each other through friendship and
        dialogue.

        "I think we get along better than politicians do," Suan said.
        Agencies
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