Following intense lobbying from NIF’s Kicking out Racism and Violence program, the Israel Police reversed its decision to cancel last weekend’s matches between Jewish and Arab soccer teams. The cancellation had been announced following the recent upsurge of violence in Israel and the occupied territories, which has resulted in increasing tensions between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
NIF issued a public statement protesting the cancellation: “Even during times of violence and tension, it’s incumbent upon the police to do all it can to allow regular life to continue as normal. It is wrong to give a prize to those trying to tear communities apart… Israeli soccer is an exceptional example of shared society and equality, and the large number of Palestinian Israeli players and teams indicates an exceptional level of integration which must be preserved, even if this requires extra security. We call on Israeli soccer teams to do all they can to promote shared society during these difficult times.”
NIF’s statement was complemented by efforts from other important figures including Labor MK and former sports broadcast Zohir Bahloul. Kicking out Racism and Violence plans to build on this achievement at next week’s match between Hapoel Haifa and Bnei Sakhnin by holding a high profile pre-match event under the banner of “Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies.” During this period, it is vital that Israeli soccer, which in many ways is a beacon for integration between Jews and Arabs, does its utmost to help reduce tensions throughout the country.
Photo Credit: via flickr