Muslims of Beitar Jerusalem
Recently, however, the team signed two Muslims from Chechnya. Some of the teams more hooliganish supporters actually rioted, burning down team headquarters and destroying memorabilia. However, in a sign that gives hope that Israel's most extreme voices can be shouted down with regards to its internal society, anti-racist fans and the team made a stand:
Chechen Muslim player Gabriel Kadiev was given a standing ovation when he made his debut for Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday despite fears he would be targeted by racist fans...
Supportive banners with slogans including: "Violence and racism? Not on our field" were also in evidence.
And Beitar fan Yair Sina, 49, told the Associated Press: "I came today to show that not all Beitar fans are punks and racists. I won't let them take away my love for the team..."
The virulent racism led Israeli president Binyamin Netanyahu, a Beitar supporter, to issue a call for change.
"Lately, we have seen displays of extremism that we find unacceptable," he said. "These must be uprooted from the public sphere and, of course, from the world of sports."It's a small thing in regional context, but with the current state of the Arab-Israeli conflict, I take my good news where I can get it.