Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ESPN E:60 Story About Racism in Israel Misses the Forest For the Trees

ESPN E:60's season finale included a Jeremy Schaap narrated story about Beitar Jerusalem, the only soccer team in Israel's premier league that has never had an Arab player on their roster. Any form of racism or hatred should of course be decried but Schaap and ESPN missed the forest for the trees in the way that they elected to tell this story--and, just as importantly, in the story that they completely neglected to tell.

Moral equivalency is a very popular world view today but it is evil, dangerous and delusional to believe in the cliche "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." George Washington was not a terrorist; the various resistance groups that fought against Nazi occupation during World War II were not terrorists. Al Qaeda is a terrorist group; Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are terrorist groups. Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have clearly and repeatedly stated their uncompromising goals: destroy Israel (often referred to as the Little Satan) and destroy the United States of America (often referred to as the Great Satan). The United States is not hated by these groups because the United States supports Israel but rather because the United States and Israel support the same philosophical and ideological concepts: democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. Instead of focusing on the one Israeli soccer team that has never had an Arab player--and the small group (by Schaap's own admission) of fans who chant anti-Arab slogans--ESPN should have taken a trip to the areas ruled by Hamas and inquired about whether Jews are permitted to live in these areas at all, let alone play for a sports team. Of course, as someone of Jewish descent, that may not be the safest question for Schaap to ask in those locales; when two Jewish Israelis took a wrong turn into Ramallah on October 12, 2000 they were brutally beaten to death and mutilated by several Arabs at a Palestinian Authority police station while a large group of Arabs cheered.

Since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Arab terrorists have murdered more than 1700 Israelis. Instead of focusing on the major issue--the Arab/Muslim world's decades-long campaign to annihilate the Jewish State--or even mentioning that issue at all, Schaap and ESPN devoted their attention to the one Israeli soccer team that has never hired an Arab player. That would be like someone coming to the United States and doing an expose about the Aryan Nations organization as if the majority of people in the United States support the Aryan Nations group; that is not to suggest that Beitar Jerusalem should be compared directly with Aryan Nations but just to point out that an entire country should not be judged or evaluated based on the conduct of a small number of its citizens, particularly when Israel is located in the middle of an Arab/Muslim region where the majority viewpoint toward Israel/Jews/the United States is not merely racist but is in fact genocidal: Arabs and Muslims throughout the Middle East not only chant "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" but they act on those statements. One of the Beitar fans interviewed by Schaap said that he hates Arabs not because they are Arabs but because the Arabs hate him and are trying to kill the Jews. The natural followup would have been some discussion of that subject to provide context for ESPN's viewers but Schaap and ESPN instead just went back to bashing Beitar Jerusalem, as if the main obstacle to Middle East peace is the employment policies of one Israeli soccer team. It is astounding that in a story about Israelis, Arabs, sports and racism Schaap and ESPN never mentioned the 1972 Munich massacre, when PLO terrorists abducted and murdered 11 Israeli Olympic athletes.

By not providing the proper context--or, indeed, any context at all--ESPN and Schaap painted a very distorted picture of the nature of the Israeli/Arab conflict. Considering that Schaap himself would not be welcome to live in Gaza or any other area controlled by Hamas, this is not only ironic but very sad. ESPN could just have easily told a story about how, despite the Arab/Muslim world's repeated attempts to destroy Israel, Arab citizens of Israel enjoy full citizenship rights, while the few Jews who remain in Arab/Muslim countries are persecuted. Considering the hatred that the Arab/Muslim world has directed toward Israel, it really is remarkable that Israel has not expelled all of the Arabs from within her borders; Arab countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia expelled large numbers of Palestinian Arabs for being a disruptive force (and there was no international outcry about those expulsions), yet Israel continues to try to find a way to live in peace with people who have sworn to destroy the Jewish State. Perhaps the next time Schaap and the E:60 crew visit Israel they will tell, as Paul Harvey would put it, the rest of the story.

No comments: