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Racism in Israeli Sports Should End

After fans of Beitar Jerusalem's soccer team demonstrated against the signing of two Muslim players this week, Shlomi Eldar writes that such racism remains a problem in Israeli sports and society.
A supporter of Beitar Jerusalem enters the stadium before a soccer match against Maccabi Umm el-Fahm at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem January 29, 2013. Hundreds of police officers and stewards secured the Israeli State Cup match on Tuesday in which Premier League Beitar Jerusalem, supported by a group of vehement anti-Arab fans, host Arab side Maccabi Umm el-Fahm. A racist element among Beitar fans caused uproar in the Jewish state on Saturday when they held up banners during a Premier League match to protest
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“The blacks have different colors too. There’s dark black and there’s mocha. The ones who are mocha are smarter. I mean the ones who are a little more mixed, like Andrew Kennedy, for example. You can see it in the way he holds himself, in his personality. He checks you out, and he’s smart too. The other blacks really are idiots. They’ll do whatever you tell them to, just like slaves. Tell them to do something, and they’ll do exactly that.”

This isn’t a quote from some eighteenth-century slave trader. It’s from a speech given by Pini Gershon, a former coach of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team, to a group of managers in 2001. His audience burst out laughing, and Gershon apologized as soon as his words hit the press. Still, he never actually paid for his remarks in any tangible way, and kept coaching the team long considered Israel’s national basketball team.

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