Well, At Least There’s Ronaldinho

Blogged in Foreign Relations,General - Israel,Image by Gloria Salt Thursday April 13, 2006

This one stings.

Israel has been condemned by FIFA, the organization that governs international soccer. Now, we’re pretty used to condemnations around these parts, both just and (usually) otherwise. But this is ridiculous.

FIFA claims to be entirely nonpolitical — or such has been its excuse over the years on the many occasions when it has pointedly ignored extreme human rights violations, going back generations, that have involved soccer stadiums and players. Consider, for example, the following cases (all taken from a recent National Review article by Tom Gross), none of which elicited a response of any kind from FIFA:

1. Saddam Hussein’s son Uday had Iraqi soccer players tortured in 1997 after they failed to qualify for the 1998 FIFA World Cup Finals in France.

2. Uday, who was chairman of the Iraqi soccer association, had star players tortured again in 1998.

3. In 2000, following a quarterfinal defeat in the Asia Cup, three Iraqi players were whipped and beaten for three days by Uday’s bodyguards. The torture took place at the Iraqi Olympic Committee headquarters.

4. The Taliban used U.N.-funded soccer fields to slaughter and flog hundreds of innocent people who had supposedly violated sharia law in front of crowds of thousands chanting “God is great.” (Afghan soccer coach Habib Ullahniazi said that as many as 30 people were executed in the middle of the field during the intermissions of a single soccer match at Kabul’s Ghazi Stadium.)

5. Soccer stadiums in Argentina were turned into jails.

6. According to the International Red Cross, about 7,000 prisoners were detained (and some tortured) in Chile’s national soccer stadium after Augusto Pinochet seized power in 1973.

7. Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov was murdered by a bomb explosion at Grozny’s Dynamo soccer stadium.

8. FIFA refused to criticize the decision to name a Palestinian soccer tournament after a suicide terrorist who murdered 31 people at a Passover celebration at the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002. (At the tournament, organized under Yasser Arafat’s auspices in 2003, the brother of the suicide bomber was given the honorary role of distributing the trophies to the winning team.)

9. FIFA failed to condemn the suicide bomb at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa in October 2003 which injured three officials from the leading Israeli soccer team Maccabi Haifa.

But last week, as Gross puts it, “FIFA finally found a target worthy of its outrage, and leapt into action.” That target was us.

What could we possibly have done to stir FIFA out of its torpor? Hold onto your hats, people. We conducted an airstrike on an empty Gazan soccer field. Why? Because it has been appropriated for training exercises by Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, who have been sending Qassam missiles into Israel with the express intent of killing and injuring civilians since the withdrawal from Gaza.

In fact, the Israeli strike took place two days after the Palestinians sent a Qassam missile barrage into Karmiya, an Israeli kibbutz. With a certain poetic irony, the missiles landed in the kibbutz’s soccer field.

Needless to say, that attack was A-OK as far as FIFA is concerned.

The deputy general secretary of FIFA, Jerome Champagne, has publicly condemned us — an unprecedented act — for hitting the Gazan field, and flatly refuses to issue a similar condemnation against the Palestinians for their prior missile attack on the kibbutz. More than that, he has consulted with FIFA president Sepp Blatter on the “appropriate action” that should be taken against us. (Champagne has defended himself from charges of discrimination with the following incisive argument: his wife is Jewish, so he can’t possibly be biased against Israel. Glad we cleared that up.)

Naturally, Israeli soccer fans (and Israel is every bit as soccer crazy as every other country in the world, save the US) are appalled over this condemnation. As Gross points out, they have several excellent questions for FIFA:

Where is FIFA when anti-Semitic banners go up in European soccer stadiums, and there are chants from spectators about sending Jews to the gas? …Where…are the FIFA sanctions against the Arab or Asian countries that refuse to allow Israel to compete in Asia? …why has FIFA moved games from Israel because guest teams were afraid to come to Israel, but has never banned any other national teams from playing home games on account of local Islamic violence? Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey were allowed to continue playing matches at home.

Furthermore, FIFA has a long history of placidly ignoring the boycotting of Israeli athletes:

In February, Tal Ben Haim — the Israeli national soccer team captain, who plays his club soccer for the English Premiership team Bolton Wanderers — was banned from joining his Bolton teammates for their training matches in Dubai. FIFA pointedly ignored this…last week, another English club, West Ham, left their two Israeli players, Yossi Benayoun and Yaniv Katan, at home when they went to Dubai. FIFA naturally had nothing to say.

No one is expecting satisfactory explanations for any of this. FIFA is otherwise occupied right now encouraging psychotic Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the opening of the World Cup in Germany in a few weeks despite his history of Holocaust denial (a crime in Germany) and openly expressed desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Blatter’s response to questioning on the Ahmadinejad question: “”We’re not going to enter into any political declarations. We in football, if we entered into such discussions, then it would be against our statutes. We are not in politics.”

Still, as Gross notes,

Not all is rotten in world soccer…Last week, Ronaldinho, the Brazilian superstar widely regarded as the best current player in the world, donated signed footballs and shirts to Israeli child suicide bomb survivors, saying he hoped his gifts would “warm the hearts of the children who have suffered so much.”

Thank you, Ronaldinho. We appreciate it more than you know.

An Alternative Oxford Conference

Blogged in Image by Gloria Salt Saturday February 18, 2006

Oxford University will shortly be hosting a week-long hate fest conference entitled “Israeli Apartheid Week”. Ever a beacon of free speech and open debate, Oxford is no doubt eager to host a parallel conference that is as unabashedly anti-Palestinian as this one will be anti-Israeli. As an alumna of Oxford myself, I want to do my part to foster a healthy exchange of views. I have therefore put together an agenda for a second conference, to take place concurrently with Israeli Apartheid Week.

In deference to the tradition established by Israeli Apartheid Week, this second conference will similarly feature incendiary and offensive language, cavalierly inaccurate use of terminology, and speakers who express only one side of the story.

The conference will cover all aspects of Palestinian society — culture, sociology, history, politics, and more. Here are the planned lectures and events:

“Palestine”: Terrorist Thugocracy Week

The Art of the Lie: Historical Inaccuracy as a Tool of National Self-Determination

“We Are a Blood-Drinking People”: A close look at the Palestinian fetishization of the murder of non-Muslims. The lecture will focus primarily on obsessive Palestinian hate for Jews and its manifestations, but will also address the persecution of Palestinian Christians by Palestinian Muslims. Appearances are scheduled by Israeli victims of Palestinian terror and by Palestinian Christians who have been intimidated, harrassed, threatened with death, and had their homes torched by their Muslim neighbors.

Learning to Spin: A photographic, video and documentary exhibition of Palestinian media manipulation. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be an examination of the IDF incursion into Jenin, the Palestinian massaging of the truth of the operation, and the credulity of the many international news organs that unhesitatingly disseminated their lies as facts. Special guest: one of the Palestinian “corpses” of Jenin that was taped climbing back onto its bier after a stumble will speak to the assembly. (He will be speaking via sattelite, as he is now a visiting fellow in The Philosophy of Media at Columbia.) Note: A separate lecture will be given on the al-Dura blood libel, possibly the Palestinians’ most successfully spun lie.

Screw the People; I Need a Villa: Evidence will be presented detailing the funneling of untold millions — possibly billions — of foreign aid dollars into the pockets of a small Palestinian minority. Special guest: Suha Arafat’s Paris couturier.

My Son the Mass Murderer: A roundtable discussion about institutionalized Palestinian child abuse. A close look at the curriculum of the Palestinian education system, the highest value of which is indoctrination to hate, violence, murder and suicide. There will be an accompanying slide presentation of Palestinian children, including toddlers and babies, dressed as gunmen and suicide bombers.

Free Speech Is For the Weak: An interview with the AP photographer who was going to file full imagery of the Palestinian celebrations at the fall of the Twin Towers until he was held at gunpoint and forced to clean up the story.

Kill the Women, Purge the Homosexuals: A lecture with question-and-answer session on the violent repression of women and homosexuals in Palestinian culture. The lecture will be given jointly by the mother of a Palestinian woman stabbed to death by her father and brothers for the crime of leaving an abusive husband, and the brother of a closeted Palestinian homosexual who was hunted down, captured, tortured, and publicly executed in Ramallah on trumped-up “collaboration” charges.

I have no doubt that the pro-Palestinian community at Oxford will welcome this second conference, as will the Oxford administration. Oxford is, after all, one of the finest academic institutions in the world, one that strives tirelessly to raise the level of discourse. The Jewish student body is expected to tolerate a week-long slander, and I’m sure the pro-Palestinian lobby at the University will graciously return the favor. Long may we all prosper in the ivory tower.

Faiths for Fairness

Blogged in General - Israel,Image by Gloria Salt Tuesday November 22, 2005

The American Interfaith Institute, an “organization with a long history of working to remove bigotry and hatred from the religions of Abraham”, has a very worthy and necessary project called Faiths for Fairness that is designed to combat biased, ill-informed decision-making about this region by religious bodies. The Institute’s members were inspired to create the project by the July 2004 decision by the Presbyterian Church USA to divest its portfolio of companies that do business with Israel. Faith for Fairness views this decision as a “one-sided indictment against Israel” and takes particular issue with the “lack of fair and balanced reporting when the case for divestment was presented”.

God bless them.

(Via Solomonia.)

The Lie That Wouldn’t Die

Blogged in Foreign Relations,General - Israel,Image by Gloria Salt Wednesday September 7, 2005

One of the most iconic images of ferocious Israeli evil is the famous photo of Muhammad al-Dura, a twelve-year-old Palestinian boy, lying dead in his father’s lap after being shot by the Israeli army during a battle at the Netzarim junction in the autumn of 2000. Over the years that have followed, the boy’s death has proved an extremely effective recruiting and motivational tool for Palestinian suicide bombers and other assorted Islamofascists.

When this incident hit the news, I remember hearing quiet comment that it had almost certainly been faked. When I inquired why the Israelis weren’t doing everything they could to expose the lie, I was told, again and again, that there was simply no point. Israel’s image was so bad that even an attempt to defend herself against such a grotesque blood libel would likely serve only to provoke further mistrust and contempt.

Fortunately, Nidra Poller refused to let the lie rest. In an explosive new piece in Commentary, she exposes the image for the fabrication it is. As she writes, the lie was so instantly effective at fomenting anti-Israel bias that even to express a doubt as to the image’s veracity was to declare yourself hopelessly deluded:

That the death of Muhammad al-Dura was the real emotional pretext for the ensuing avalanche of Palestinian violence—and a far more potent trigger than Sharon’s “provocative” visit to the Temple Mount—is attested by the immediate and widespread dissemination of his story and of the pietà-like image of his body lying at his father’s feet. Streets, squares, and schools have since been named for the young Islamic shahid. His death scene has been replicated on murals, posters, and postage stamps, even making an iconic appearance in the video of Daniel Pearl’s beheading. His story, perhaps the single most powerful force behind the Palestinian cult of child sacrifice over the last years, has been dramatized in spots on Palestinian television urging others to follow in his path, retold in a recruitment video for al Qaeda, and immortalized in epic verse by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

But is it true? Although serious doubts were immediately raised about the veracity of the France-2 news report, they were swept aside by the emotions it provoked and by the flare of violence in the last months of 2000. France-2 indignantly turned down all requests to investigate or even to help others investigate by releasing outtakes. To this day, many people believe that even to raise a doubt about the authenticity of the report is tantamount to denying the reality of the 9/11 attacks on New York City.

The depth of depravity and cynicism required to fabricate such a revolting lie beggars the imagination. But, as Poller argues, the Palestinians who enacted the scene are not the only ones at fault. The incident was disseminated, instantly and at no charge, to the world’s media by French TV. She concludes her article by asking: “What was the role of the government-owned French television network, which is to say the French government itself, in devising, implementing, and spreading this atrocious calumny, whose repercussions are with us to this day?”

It’s a compelling piece. Have a look at it.

(Via Melanie Phillips.)

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