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February 1, 2013 2:18 am

Beitar Jerusalem and the Double Standard Against Israel

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Caribbean and Orthodox Jewish soccer players in a 2011 match. Photo: Soccer for Harmony

So often there is an unfair double standard applied to Israel. When media outlets ignore the slaughter of tens of thousands of Arabs in Syria while headlining every purported Israeli infraction, it’s clear, repeated bias.

On the topic of double standards, we must not overlook the desperate “right of return” claim that only travels in one direction. Arabs seek to take what they claim was theirs prior to 1948 and then again in 1967, while Jews expelled from Bahrain, Algeria, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and plenty of other Arab countries have little noise being made for their return or compensation. Where is the liberal media condemning the unfair treatment and the racism against Jews? It is a constant hyper-focus on only one side of the conflict.

Now, there is another story receiving extensive media coverage, both inside and outside of Israel about the possibility of two Muslim athletes joining the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team. Fans of the team are loudly protesting the possibility of Muslims joining the team – they held signs this weekend at a game reading “Beitar will be pure forever” and they reportedly shouted anti-Muslim slogans. Of course, it was headline news in every Israeli newspaper.

It is quite clear that the behavior of those fans is not representative of the Jewish State. That said, why is there no media coverage of the lack of Jews or Israelis on Arab soccer teams? Or about the fact that the Jewish state has so many Arab soccer teams. Where is the feature article on how an Israeli (soccer player or not) setting foot in most Arab countries would be putting his life in danger? Once again, it is a one-way street paved solely with Israeli and Jewish accountability.

While ESPN dubbed Beitar fans “the most dangerous fans” in Israeli soccer, one wonders how an Israeli player might be treated on a Muslim team in Iran, or an Arab team in Yemen? They would be lynched of course – The spectacle would make Beitar fans look like kindergarten children, and the Jewish player would not make it out of the stadium alive.

Meanwhile, Ruby Rivlin, speaker of the Knesset and a member of the right-wing Likud party said “We support the battle against fascism and racism, and we should lead it.” The Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat said: “We cannot … discriminate against Muslim or Christian players from being in our teams. This is not just about football, but a Jewish and national interest.” Barkat and Rivlin would likely be hung if they tried to make similar statements about Jews playing for teams in Arab countries.

Twisted media reports hurt Israel, as does ignoring daily rants and acts of incitement and hatred against Jews that emanate from Arab and Muslim nations with little to no coverage or commentary by the media. As CEO of 5WPR a Public Relations agency I would urge journalists to compare apples to apples – not oranges. While Israel may not be a perfect society things should be kept in prospective.

Israel is that rare Middle East country where the streets are not named for suicide bombers and terrorist masterminds; write about that.

New-York based Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, author and philanthropist.

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