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Jerusalem soccer club torched after protests against Muslim players
Published Friday 08/02/2013 (updated) 11/02/2013 10:54
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Supporters of Beitar Jerusalem soccer club hold a banner reading
"Beitar will always remain pure" during a Premier League match in
Jerusalem, Jan. 26, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A suspected arson attack damaged the main club house of Israeli Premier League side Beitar Jerusalem on Friday, a day after four fans were charged in court in connection with racist incitement against the team's recruitment of Muslim players, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the fire, which caused no injuries, caused "extensive damage" to the premises next to the team's main training grounds. Reuters television footage showed trophies and other memorabilia were destroyed.

"Initial findings show the blaze was caused by a number of suspects" and police were investigating a possible link to protests over the team's signing up of two Chechen Muslim players last month, Rosenfeld said.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said police would take "a heavy hand to put an end to this issue," and praised the club for what he saw as steps toward "fighting racism and violence".

The Israel Football Association said that soccer's world governing body FIFA had requested clarification following racist chanting by fans at a league fixture last month against the Chechen players.

A Jerusalem court had indicted four fans on Thursday for involvement in that incitement, police said.

The club has also been disciplined for that incident and were ordered to close the Teddy Kollek Stadium's 7,000-seat eastern grandstand, where hard core supporters sit, for five matches. They also received a 50,000 shekels ($13,500) fine.

Beitar are a bastion of Israel's political right wing and the only leading team in the country never to have signed an Arab player because of fan pressure.

They have the worst disciplinary record in Israel's Premier League. Since 2005, Beitar have faced more than 20 hearings and have received various punishments, including points deductions, fines and matches behind closed doors.

Palestinian Arab citizens make up some 20 percent of Israel's population. Arab players feature prominently at all other clubs and have long been included in Israel's national team.
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1 ) Mel / USA
08/02/2013 15:19
"...worst disciplinary record in Israel's Premier League"? Well duh! Just kick the team OUT OF THE LEAGUE,PRONTO! FIFA should indefinately suspend Beitar!"Pure"? How very KKK! Sieg Heil morons!

2 ) .............. / ............
08/02/2013 16:19
hasbara article.

3 ) gabi / australia
09/02/2013 01:15
#2 - sorry, I don't get it.

4 ) ....... / ...........
09/02/2013 16:42
@3.not surprised thatyou dont

5 ) Reader / from Edmonton
09/02/2013 18:25
Beitar Jerusalem soccer club should suspend all games for one year. Extremists should not be allowed to run this team.

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
09/02/2013 21:58
There was some murmuring, but unless I'm mistaken, nothing like this happened in America when baseball was integrated in 1947. They take their racial purity seriously in Israel.

7 ) gabi / australia
10/02/2013 01:03
# 4 - do you? if so, let me in on the secret.

8 ) Mel / USA
10/02/2013 03:21
Wo! Wait a mo! Isn't that FM Avadickhead Loverman holding the end of the banner? Booooooooo! LOL!

9 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
10/02/2013 18:51
Colin - your re-writing of history is incredible. "baseball was integrated in 1947" and "nothing like this happened"?!?!?!? You Americans were still hanging blacks in 1947 and 1957 and into the early 60s! American football was so racist that you didn't allow a black quarterback until the 1970s! Face it, Colin. When it comes to racism America is king. Israel was not built on slavery and genocide of the natives like your country.

10 ) ian / australia
10/02/2013 21:10
Can't say I know Israeli sport intimately but Beitar Jerusalem appears to be the Israeli skinhead's team of choice. Their rabid supporters resemble rabid settlers in how they've REALLY bought into the myths they were raised on. And they may actually be a bit bewildered by all the fuss, given they're just acting out, with fervour, everything they've always been told about Jews, Arabs and Israel.

11 ) Colin Wright / USA
10/02/2013 22:36
To Brian Cohen #9 'Face it, Colin. When it comes to racism America is king. ' Just for the sake of argument, I could concede that we WERE king. However, there's definitely a new champion. You face THAT.

12 ) gabi / australia
11/02/2013 01:46
# 9 Brian Cohen: "Israel was not built on . . genocide of the natives . . " No? Read more. Give ot a go. Try, eg. Illan Pape, Benny Morris, for starters. Or even go to Ben Gurion's own account of the works of the Haganah. Or read accounts of former members of the Palmach. The Irgun. And don't forget the Stern gang. No, no genocide of the natives, not really, it's just that those pesky Palestinians got in the way!

13 ) Reader / from Edmonton
11/02/2013 01:49
What benefit can be achieved by citing evil to justify evil? It's far more important to speak out any time racism rears its head.

14 ) Reader / from Edmonton
11/02/2013 11:40
Just suspend all games for one year. Racism can not be rewarded

15 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
11/02/2013 16:44
Colin - your allegation "They take their racial purity seriously in Israel" is laughable and your ignorance quite palpable. How do you explain "racial purity" when Jews are black and white? Why did the white Jews launch the famous massive rescue of tens of thousands of black Jews from Ethiopia? Why are there black and brown and white Jews in parliament (not to mention the Arabs and Druze) if we're so "racially pure"? The only racism is clearly in your heart and imagination.

16 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
11/02/2013 16:47
Gabi - anybody who quotes Ilan Pape is obviously grasping at straws. The guy is considered a quack by the vast majority of his peers. We're dealing with modern Israel, just like we're not dealing with the painful truth of your own personal guilt of being an occupation settler on stolen Aborigine land. It's clear you and Colin can't stand it that Israel is not a racist state, although just like Aussie and America we do indeed have racists among us. Ian is right - he doesn't know Israel at all.

17 ) Brian COhen / Israel
11/02/2013 16:50
Ian - you should have stopped when you said "Can't say I know Israeli sport" because it's clear you don't. Teams here have blacks and whites and coloreds and Jews and Druze and Muslims and Christians. There are no "skinhead" teams in Israel - they don't exist. You people are such ignorant thugs, trying to invent something that doesn't exist. Just like elsewhere, there is a minority of racist fans in Beitar. The league and police are dealing with them. To bad if you don't like that fact.

18 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
11/02/2013 20:23
Here's the last word from the YNET report: "But in contrast to the previous taunts and jeers directed at the players, the crowd of thousands erupted into a rousing standing ovation when Gabriel Kadiev, a 19-year-old defender recently brought over from FC Terek Grozny, entered the game in the 80th minute. Every time he touched the ball the crowd cheered wildly, mostly drowning out a smattering of boos. The trend continued when a few minutes later Beiter scored a late goal to secure a 2-2 tie."

19 ) gabi / australia
12/02/2013 01:15
# 16 - 18 - The reports we read here give quite a different picture from yours. Not just a "smattering of boos." And Illan Pappe - a "quack" by his peers? Is that why he gets such great coverage? (Not all anti-occupation writers are self-hating Jews or "traitors") But if you don't like him or Benny Morris, what about Shlomo Sand? As to us in Australia most of us were initially brought here in chains - no real choice about it - and THEN WE GAVE OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE THE VOTE. ALL OF THEM.

20 ) Reader / from Edmonton
12/02/2013 21:36
Rescuing Ethiopian women with just a little tweaking here and there.

21 ) ian / australia
12/02/2013 22:06
#17, #18 I accept all that Brian. (It's the constant news items about settler attacks, IDF killings, violent evictions and expanding settlements that are behind the odd vent about something, you're right, I know nothing about!) But Israel does seem schizophrenic. In Israel proper things are normal. A smattering of football (and other) hooliganism, like in every country, amidst the normal, decent majority. But in the occupied territories Israel's behaviour is heinous, and not just out-of-control

22 ) ian / australia
12/02/2013 22:07
(contd.) settlers gone feral (Israel's "skinheads"), but as official government policy. Your sunny picture of inclusiveness and tolerance and what kind-hearted people Israelis are might be true on the pitch (ie. at a sporting event) but does it really carry over onto the Israeli "street"? Isn't it actually kind of tense? Like a truce? Al-hudna? Still seems a weird place: striving for first world normalcy in a society where non-Jews are deeply NOT equal (ask an Arab) while in the territories

23 ) ian / australia
12/02/2013 22:09
(contd.) (ie. another sovereign country) behaving like the worst racial supremacists and marauding conquerors. You're completely silent about that Brian. Should Israel be in the West Bank or withdraw behind the '67 line? Should Israel keep all those settlements built on stolen land or leave and give the Palestinians a chance to create a functioning state?
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