Israeli fans cheer for Iran in the World Cup’s Iran-Spain game at a cafe in downtown Jerusalem, June 20, 2018.
Fans of the Iranian soccer team leaped out of their seats cheering wildly and waving Iranian flags when Saeid Ezatolahi thumped the ball into the back of the net in Wednesday’s World Cup game against Spain, tying the game 1-1 and leaving Iran a chance to advance. A moment later, groans of disappointment spread as the goal was disqualified.
This scene did not take place in Tehran or at the stadium in Kazan, Russia. It was in a bar in Jerusalem, where the fans were mostly Israelis expressing their shock and disappointment at Iran’s defeat.
Geopolitics set aside, many Israeli Jews are rooting for Muslim countries in this year’s World Cup, including Israel’s archrival Iran. The Israeli national team has only competed in one World Cup, in 1970, leaving local soccer fans to root for other teams when the quadrennial event rolls around.
This year, Iran and four Arab states — Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt — are competing in the World Cup in Russia. This rare showing of countries from the Muslim world, from which a large percentage of Israelis immigrated in the 20th century, has prompted many in Israel to cheer on the teams of their ancestral countries. As of 2011, Israel was home to 141,000 Jews of Iranian descent, 492,000 Jews of Moroccan descent, 134,000 of Tunisian and Algerian descent, and 57,000 of Egyptian origin, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The Israeli government has also joined in the World Cup spirit. The Foreign Ministry’s official social media accounts have been publishing messages of encouragement to the Muslim countries competing in the World Cup even though Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Tunisia, Morocco or Iran.
“So many teams from our region competing in the @FIFAWorldCup, Too bad we’re not there too! Good luck #IRN, Good luck #MAR,” the @Israel Twitter feed said last week. The @IsraelArabic account also wished Saudi Arabia good luck ahead of the tournament’s opening game against Russia.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that Israel sought “to send a message of support to sport and separate sports and politics” through its social media statements in support of Muslim countries. “We did not receive any official response from those countries, but we do receive on social media very positive reactions from citizens of those nations,” he said.
Pinkas Matan, a self-styled “magician, social artist and researcher of consciousness,” organized Wednesday’s screening of the Iran vs. Spain match as part of an ongoing project called the “Iranian Embassy Jerusalem.” Matan wore an Iran jersey, a white turban and held Iranian flags aloft throughout the game. He succeeded in rallying several dozen Iran fans to the event at the bar of Hamiffal, a communal art center in downtown Jerusalem.
“We organized the event to bring Israelis and Iranians together through culture and art, that’s our mandate at the Iranian Embassy,” Matan told Al-Monitor between cheers of “Iran! Iran!” during the halftime break.
“We were hoping more Iranians would come, but some called and said they were afraid because of the whole episode with Gonen Segev,” he joked, referring to the former Israeli minister arrested earlier this week and charged with spying on behalf of Iran. A handful of Iranian nationals were in attendance, however, including a man who identified himself only as Massoud.
Matan’s family emigrated generations earlier from Tehran, and he said he wasn’t alone among Israelis in supporting the Iranian team at the World Cup.
Ariel Ben Moshe, a Tel Aviv resident who was born in Israel but whose family came from Iran in the 1950s, told Al-Monitor that she was a full supporter of Iran in this World Cup in spite of “the declarations and calls for murder from the ayatollahs. … To be honest, I am cheering for them only because my family came from there; I don’t know so much about the team,” she said. “Because the Israeli team is a disappointment, I decided to return to my roots.”
Many Moroccan Jews in Israel share that sentiment and have proudly cheered on the country’s Atlas Lions. A popular quip in Hebrew circulating on social media notified users that since Wednesday’s Morocco-Portugal game started at 3 p.m., a prayer popular among Sephardic Jews would be held at 2:30 p.m.
Israelis draped in their national flag stood in the Morocco supporters’ section at Wednesday’s game at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium and made headlines back home after a video on social media appeared to show Moroccans yanking at the Israeli flag. An Israeli in attendance later clarified that the Moroccan fans in the video were diving for a Moroccan player’s jersey that was thrown into the stands, and that Israeli fans were welcomed with open arms. (The Sephardic prayers may not have helped, as Morocco lost 1-0 and was eliminated from the tournament.)
Uri Levy, a Mideast soccer commentator and founder of the BabaGol soccer website, said the phenomenon of Israelis cheering for teams from the Muslim world has grown in recent years.
“Since the Israel national team is nowhere near the tournament, it’s obvious that people will look for a team to feel good about,” Levy told Al-Monitor in an email from Russia, where he was covering the tournament. Many of them do so out of a cultural connection without regard for international politics, Levy said, just as French and English Jews are cheering for their teams in this year’s competition.
“There are some strong connections still, and you can identify with people and symbols from those countries and still be Israeli,” he said.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
Spurred by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation and the realization that elections will likely be moved to early 2019, the leaders of the Druze community are determined to fight against the Nationality Law.
Leaders from the Druze minority and others take part in a rally to protest the Jewish nation-state law in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 4, 2018
It certainly seems like Israel is headed toward early elections. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who resigned Nov. 14, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett were both part of the current right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, competing over which of them was its most right-wing member
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise.
Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.
Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”
With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.
On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)