Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Israel-Palestine conflict confronts football: from Aouate’s “son of a bitch” to Benzema to Weissman’s “200 tons of bombs on Gaza”

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has permeated all layers of society. It is a new demonstration that politics and sports are completely united. The events experienced in recent days have mobilized the players. This is the case of Karim Benzema, a player for Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia, who posted the following message on social networks: “All our prayers for the people of Gazawho once again are victims of these unjust bombings that do not spare women or children.

Among the multiple responses that the communication from the former forward of the real Madrid one arose from David ‘Dudu’ Aouate, a former Israeli player who played for several Spanish teams such as Racing de Santander, Deportivo and Mallorca. “You’re a son of a bitch,” the goalkeeper responded to the striker. He did it in Hebrew, French, English, Arabic and Spanish.

Dudu Aouate, during his time as a player for the Israel national team. MIGUEL A. LOPES / EFE

“Israel would kill every last one of Hamas”

Since the start of the war against Hamas, Aouate has been very active. A few days ago he published the following message, in a tone similar to the previous one: “They didn’t kill people, they have murdered and dismembered babies. They have raped women. Israel is fighting terrorism, whatever the cost. We promise that Israel will kill every last Hamas son of a bitch and any terrorists who are on their way. Game over”.

Aouate was a temperamental player, who during his time at Deportivo was involved in an incident with his locker room and position partner Gustavo Munúa. The brawl resulted in a wound that required eight stitches on the Israeli’s face. Currently, only one Israeli footballer plays in LaLiga: Shon Weissman, Granada forward and international for his country, whose matches have been suspended. With domestic football stopped, the federation of this country announced that its players will not leave the country until further notice.

While Weissman’s Instagram account is private, in ‘X’ his last message is apologizing to the Granada fans for not playing during the matchday. Yom Kippur, “the most important event in Judaism: my beliefs lead me to respect it and that is how I have conveyed it to the club, the coaching staff and the locker room, who have respected my decision.” However, their favorites section has been filled these days with messages that led a group of Granadan and Palestinian citizens to formalize before the Prosecutor’s Office filed a complaint for a possible hate crime.

The image that tops Weissman’s social networks. Drafting

Achraf, Pogba, Mahrez, Diakhaby…

Among the evidence provided by the complainants, a tweet by Weissman stands out in which he responds to another that shows an Israeli soldier pointing at two alleged naked and unarmed Palestinian terrorists with a comment that says: “Why doesn’t Ezael shoot him in the head?”. This message was deleted by the Israeli player, but it joins others in which he encourages revenge and bets on launching “200 tons of bombs on Loop.

The complainants consider that “there are indications that a hate crime is being committedboth for the publication of that message and for the content of those that the player is helping to spread” and ask that such messages that “generate hatred and break coexistence” be stopped.

On the other side, Achraf Hakimiof Muslim confession, like Benzema, who was his teammate at Real Madrid, put in his networks Palestine free”with a broken heart next to it. Paul Pogbarecently suspended for doping, wrote that “the world needs peace and love: pray for Palestine.” Diakhabyfrom Valencia, expressed himself in a similar sense. Mahrezanother of the elite players who signed this summer for a team in Saudi Arabia (Al-Ahli) denounced what he considers ethnic cleansing.

In the Premier, the Egyptian Mohamed Salahof Liverpool, called “on all world leaders, including the Prime Minister of the country that has been my home for the last few years (the United Kingdom), to do everything in their power. Make sure that violence and murder of innocent people stops immediately.”

Frederick Kanouté displaying a t-shirt in support of Palestine for which he was sanctioned. / EUROPA PRESS

Several footballers killed in the conflict

Closer, in LaLiga, Nabil Fekirfrom Betis, denounced “the apartheid that our brothers and sisters in Palestine have suffered” and asked for “justice and peace to return.” A player with a past in the Spanish competition, such as Frédéric Kanouté, expressed his opinion against “the enormous propaganda of the media and Western politicians” about the conflict, which, in his opinion, “is only exposing the increasingly blatant hypocrisy and double standards.”

The former Sevilla player ended his criticism by assuring that “Palestine will be free”. In 2009, the Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation sanctioned the French striker, of Malian origin, for displaying a shirt with the motto ‘Palestine’ that he displayed in a Copa del Rey match.

More serious than the accusations are the consequences in terms of human lives that the conflict is having. Some, belonging to the world of football. Lior Assulin, a former soccer player with a career in Israel since 1997, lost his life in the Hamas attack that triggered this new phase of the confrontation. This past weekend, the Palestinian men’s national soccer team mourned the death of Dabour Rashid as a result of the attacks by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.


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