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.
Feb 10, 2019 0
At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo. (photo credit: MIRAFLORES PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
The Shalva Band following their final performance on “Rising Star.” Photo: Screenshot.
The Shalva Band has removed itself from the race to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision competition because some of its members observed Shabbat and would not be able to partake in mandatory rehearsals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The group, made up of eight musicians who have special needs, was one of four finalists in the “Rising Star” singing contest — the winner of which will represent Israel in Eurovision, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
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As Birthright Israel reaches its 700,000th participant, certain voices in America have done their best to slander the organization and force it to make drastic changes. Having staffed multiple Birthright trips as a madrich (youth leader), I have had the amazing opportunity to pass on some of the love for Israel that helped change my life.
Local police in Manchester’s Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic.
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose anti-Semitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018.. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
We need to give the Likud Party some credit for not destroying itself in Tuesday’s internal elections. Given that primaries are the very embodiment of deal-making, political machines and big worker unions voting in lockstep, the results could have been far worse.
When it came to casting a secret ballot, the Likud Party’s registered voters did display some maturity. They weren’t the obedient foot soldiers of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has failed again and again in his machinations.
With elections barely two months away, the greatest challenge facing Israel’s Right emanates neither from the Center nor the Left, but, rather, from within.
Indeed, if recent polls are accurate, several small parties on the Right, most of which may not individually pass the minimum threshold to make it into the next Knesset, could nonetheless win a combined total of 10 to 12 seats, all of which would end up in the dustbin if they fail to run together.
August 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville shouting, “Jews will not replace us”. October 2018, one white supremacist posted on social media that “Jews are taking over the white house”, and that Trump is a puppet of the Jews. Shabbat, the same month, a man enters a synagogue during a Bris celebration and butchers Jewish people who are praying. December 2018, Women’s March leader and Louis Farrakhan (“I’m not an antisemite, I’m an anti-termite”) fan, Tamika Mallory says: “White Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy…”
Henry Ford devoted his life to two passions: making cars and demonizing Jews. When Hitler said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” he wasn’t referring to his car manufacturing. He was referring to Ford’s anti-Semitic ideology that eventuated in the genocide of six million Jews.
Henry Ford does not deserve to be honored. The question the good people of Dearborn should ask themselves is: What would you do if the performing arts center were named after Jefferson Davis? If the answer is that you would remove Davis’s name, then you should remove Ford’s.
It was reported recently that the USA and the Taliban have reached a peace agreement on Afghanistan that will allow US forces to leave that country 17 years after they invaded it on October, 2001, less than a month after 9/11.
Al Qaeda had used that dysfunctional state as a safe haven and, while there, was able to plan and execute the attacks that took the lives of over 3000 people in. After the West invaded, the Taliban