|Fans Unite against Racism as Knesset Considers Removing Arabs from Israel Team|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
MK Michael Ben-Ari of the right wing National Unity party has submitted a bill to the Knesset proposing that those representing Israel in sporting competitions be compelled to sing the national anthem. Israel's soccer team currently has four Arab players in the squad, and traditionally members of minorities remain silent but respectful during the Hatikvah rather than sing lyrics such as "A Jewish soul still yearns for Zion."
Under Ben-Ari's proposed blatantly racist legislation, players refusing to sing the anthem will be kicked out of national teams. NIF issued a statement (in Hebrew), which was widely featured in the Israeli media, saying: "The proposed [legislation] is aimed at harming the delicate fabric of joint living between Jews and Arabs. The bill would directly affect soccer, one of the few areas where there are equal opportunities for all Israelis regardless of race and religion."
The move comes as more than 100 soccer fans of Hapoel Tel Aviv and Dutch team PSV Eindhoven joined together last week at the Israeli club's training ground in Holon for a program of anti-racist activities. Jewish and Arab youth from Hapoel Tel Aviv's national education program also took part in the event, which was part of the pan-European Action Week organized by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), and was organized by NIF's Let's Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football.
Fans of the Dutch and Israeli teams staged a friendly game and materials promoting an opportunity to design anti-racism posters and banners were distributed to the fans and youth.
The scene then switched to Hapoel's Bloomfield Stadium for a pre- match anti-racism event broadcast live on TV. Special guest was Ambassador of the Netherlands to Israel His Excellency Caspar Veldkamp. The anti-racism event was widely covered by the Israeli media.
Watch a clip of the event below: