Bnei Sakhnin, the Israeli Premier League team comprising solely of Palestinian citizens of Israel, has been fined NS 15,000 (about £2,500) for honouring Azmi Bishara, amongst others including the Emir of Qatar, for the support that they had given the club. Bishara is a former Member of the Knesset who had a vision of Israel as a country for all its citizens and had the temerity to propose an alternative to the Jewish and Democratic state. He even ran for the position of Prime Minister. This did not lie well with the establishment. He was accused of helping Hezbollah and chose to leave the country rather than submit to Israeli justice.
The decision by the IFA only to fine Bnei Sakhnin was condemned by Lieberman and sports minister Limor Livnat as too lenient and the State Comptoller has undertaken to investigate the club’s finances in case there were sources of funds to which the State might object. Most clubs receive funds from the Ministry of Sport and the state betting organisation Toto. So there might be repercussions.
The story has been reported in a number of journals, at least one of which portrays the accusations against Bishara as proven.
http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=66649 (Occupation Magazine, see below)
From Occupation Magazine
Azmi my friend, the most important thing is not to be afraid at all
The Israeli Premier Football League comprises 14 teams. Racism is widespread among football fans and keeps those who cannot stand that contamination away from the football stadiums. One team, Beitar Jerusalem, surpasses them all. Its fans are racist and violent, and no Arab player can approach its gates for fear of being lynched. The racism of Beitar Jerusalem is so monstrous that the new president of Israel, Rubi Rivlin, who served as chairman of Beitar Jerusalem in the past, has declared that he will not attend its games.
According to the regulations of the international football federation FIFA, a team that is racist or has racist fans must be disqualified. If the FIFA regulations were applied as they should be, Beitar Jerusalem would have been removed from the league and disbanded long ago. But as usual, Israel brushes off international regulations and not only is the team wallowing in a swamp of racism, it constitutes a showcase for what is happening in the government of Israel.
If Beitar Jerusalem is a popular team that is acceptable to the present ruling establishment, that is not the case with another team, which to Israel’s racists, both in the government and outside it, constitutes a stain on the Jewish (and non-democratic) character of the State of Israel. That team is called Bnei Sakhnin (literally, “Sons of Sakhnin). An Arab football team that bears the name of an Arab town. The princes and princesses of racism in Israel, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, are looking for a pretext to remove the Arabs from the Premier League, news of which dominates the sports reporting on television and in the newspapers nearly every day. Their eyes are pained, they block their ears, their stomachs churn and their bodies shrink at the thought of the Sakhnin supporters, some of whom wave Palestinian flags at games, which cannot be concealed in the media reports. “May our camp be pure” is their slogan, and so Bnei Sakhnin must be transferred to one of the minor leagues, where most of the Arabs are concentrated, and the activities of which do not interest anyone. There they can wave Palestinian flags as much as they want, the media won’t report it, and what is not reported might as well not exist.
The leaders of the team know that they are under a microscope. And Bnei Sakhnin has played it smartly. The team has maintained its position in the Premier League for several years now, and once it even won the Israel State Cup, and as such became the Israeli representative in the UEFA Cup tournament in Europe for national cup winners. And the racists? They were bursting with frustration. Sakhnin did not provide them with any pretext to remove it from the Premier League. Until Saturday, 18 October, 2014.
On that Saturday, before the game began, there was a ceremony to award certificates of appreciation to people who had contributed to the club, including Dr. Azmi Bishara. It was a red flag waved in front of the bulls of hate and racism.
Here I will parenthetically say a few words about Azmi Bishara. He headed the group that founded the Balad party, which he represented in the Knesset. He is a man of many talents. An intellectual compared to whom most Knesset Members are mental dwarves. A philosopher by training, charismatic, a political leader, a Knesset Member who raised the level of the debate by several degrees. With the vision of a state of all its citizens, he introduced the alternative to the oxymoron of a Jewish and democratic state. In the 1999 elections, the last elections with a double ballot, one for the prime minister and the other for the party, he ran for prime minister. The political and security establishments were horrified. An Arab as prime minister of Israel? What’s this country coming to? Those ignoramuses had not read Jabotinsky, who envisioned a democratic state in which Arabs would enjoy equal rights, and he did not rule out the possibility of an Arab prime minister with a Jewish deputy, and vice-versa.
Bishara was seen as an increasingly dangerous figure, who could attract support not only from Arabs but Jews as well, and so he had to be gotten rid of, the sooner the better. So the Israel Security Agency cooked up an accusation of espionage against him, according to which he helped Hezbollah aim at targets in Israel in the Second Lebanon War. Whoever knows Azmi knows that this was a libel intended to put him away for the rest of his life. He was never in the army, he knows nothing about firing mortars, and he knows nothing about gun laying. I myself, who served in the army and completed a course for mortar commanders – if I were asked to gun-lay for mortars today, I would not know what to do. And if that is the case for me, it is all the more true of Bishara, who as I said has had no military training at all.
Bishara, who was interrogated several times by the ISA, clearly saw which way the winds were blowing. He knew that in the Israeli reality he had no chance of receiving a fair trial – not with the ISA against him. His choice was between prison for life and taking advantage of the parliamentary immunity he still had in order to leave the country permanently, or until it returned to sanity. He made the wise choice, he chose life – which is a commandment in Judaism, but you don’t have to be Jewish to do make that choice. After he ensured his future freedom he resigned from the Knesset.
Back to the football team: governmental brainwashing with the help of servile media have converted Azmi Bishara into a “suspected spy in time of war” who has “fled from justice”. The inclusion of Bishara among the recipients of certificates of appreciation played into the hands of the two L’s – Livnat and Lieberman – and the other Israeli racists. They all launched a well-orchestrated attack on Bnei Sakhnin. The Sports Minister, in line with her unique understanding of the concept of the separation of powers, demanded that the Israel Football Association court punish Bnei Sakhnin severely, and dictated the punishment to the judges: protracted suspension from the Premier League. The charge: introducing politics into sport, which is forbidden by the regulations. The leaders of Bnei Sakhnin replied that this was a tempest in a teapot. There’s no politics here, they said: just recognition for a man who made a contribution to the club. And I might add that it would be easy to verify this: let Limor Livnat contribute to the club and we will see if she receives a certificate of appreciation like the one Azmi Bishara received. Now we must wait and see whether the judges of the Football Federation court will show some independent judgement or function as emissaries of the minister.