Reality Check 1
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Two Muslim football players brought over from Chechnya, totally anonymous and utterly clueless, are at the center of a local sports scandal. An extreme group of fans belonging to their hosting club, Beitar Jerusalem, have begun a violent campaign to try and cancel this move. Full of hatred, racism, and common sense – some fans set fire to the club’s offices over the weekend – this campaign more than anything provides Israeli society with a harsh reality check, for it is not poor skills on the field that rile these fans, but the fact that the two players are Muslim.
Let there be no mistake, no matter how small this extreme group of fans is, the sad truth is that in Israel 2013, racism and violence are an every-day occurrence, not only in football, and not only against Arabs.
The club management and the police, who previously turned a blind eye at the activities of this group, are now set on eliminating it, probably because of the growing scrutiny by international and European football associations.
The remedy for this epidemic is in the education system, starting from first grade. The poor penal systems for minors and adults alike are also at fault. Beitar Jerusalem is not the problem, but it successfully mirrors Israeli society.
March of the Folly
I could not believe my ears, or eyes to be more accurate, when I read that Israel is considering creating a buffer zone reaching up to 10 miles into Syria to secure itself from fundamentalist rebels on the other side of the border. The proposal, which has been already presented to Netanyahu, is intended to secure the 47-mile border against a growing Islamist threat if Assad’s embattled regime loses control of the area.
Am I the only one with a strong sense of déjà vu? The Lebanese security zone that was set up in 1985 and lasted until 2000, bled Israel both materially and emotionally, and ended with a debatable retreat leaving in its wake an emboldened and very much strengthened guerrilla organization that is now listed high enough on Israel’s list of threats.
I served in this security zone for over a year – and witnessed the crippling defensive bogging down of the finest military in the Middle East. I am no military strategist, but surely our experience in Lebanon, added to other past and present examples such as Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, are proof enough of the folly in trying to deal conventionally with guerrilla warfare? Do we really want to become the focal point for world jihad?
I seriously hope that the low level of media coverage of this idea reflects its insignificance rather than its significance.