Australia/Israel Review


The Last Word: “Footballing while Jewish” and other crimes

Jan 25, 2024 | Seth Mandel

Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel: Fired, arrested and deported for calling attention to the Israeli hostages in Gaza (Image: X/ Twitter)
Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel: Fired, arrested and deported for calling attention to the Israeli hostages in Gaza (Image: X/ Twitter)

The aftermath of October 7 has cured the Jewish community of any expectation of “solidarity”. Yet even by our new and extremely low standards, the fact that the world is retaliating against all things Jewish or Israeli ought to elicit a bit more outrage. 

In mid-January, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced that Israel’s under-20 men’s team would be barred from its upcoming tournament in Bulgaria over “security concerns”. Meaning: The IIHF knows that Jews are targets and it does not have the desire to protect them or other players from potential attacks. All that cost, paperwork, you know how it is. [After legal action was launched against the IIHF, the decision to bar the Israeli team was reversed on Jan. 17 – Ed.]

The NHL, North America’s pro league, had some concerns: “As we understand it, the decision is intended to be temporary in nature and rests solely on the IIHF’s overriding concern for the safety and security of all of its stakeholders… Importantly, we also have been assured that the decision is not intended to be a sanction against the Israeli Federation.”

Ah, well, in that case, gee, how wonderful. I mean, if it’s not intended to be a sanction, and banning the Jews is only temporary, we can all rest easy. 

A few days later, Israeli-born soccer star Sagiv Jehezkel returned home to Israel to great fanfare. He had been playing for a Turkish professional team before he suddenly had to flee the country after scoring a goal. Usually scoring a goal is a good thing in soccer. But Jehezkel showed the camera that he had written “100 days” with a Star of David on his wrist, to let the Gaza hostages know he hasn’t forgotten them. He was immediately arrested, had his contract cancelled, and was sent back to Israel. 

David Teeger wasn’t arrested or deported. But the under-19 captain of South Africa’s cricket team is no longer the captain. Cricket South Africa “decided that David should be relieved of the captaincy for the tournament.” Why? Because he’s Jewish, and you know how people can be about the Jews: “We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament. We have also been advised that they are likely to focus on … David Teeger.” [Ed. Note: Controversy had originally arisen after Teeger made comments supportive of Israeli soldiers at a Jewish awards ceremony.]

South Africa, you’ll note, is the country currently prosecuting Israel for “genocide”.

You’d be surprised how sensitive people can be about the possibility they will accidentally see or hear a Jewish person. In December, the UK Telegraph reported that British Airways had decided to “pause” a plan to include the Jewish-themed sitcom Hapless in its in-flight entertainment offerings after October 7. The airline said it didn’t want to “take sides”. 

The series it chose not to show is about a Jewish newspaper in London. I don’t know how to pretend this decision isn’t completely insane.

“Pause” is a word that comes up a lot these days in the post-October 7 entertainment industry. Haaretz reports that “Netflix has hit the pause button on broadcasting several Israeli series. One of them is the action drama “Border Patrol”, which it acquired in September. Another is the original Israeli comedy-drama “Through Fire and Water,” which was scheduled to premiere on Netflix in early November but was postponed. 

Netflix employees reportedly told Israeli producers, “We have to stop and wait for better days.”

Perhaps after some time has gone by, everyone will be more comfortable watching actors portray Jewish characters, or playing hockey or soccer or cricket with Jewish athletes. I don’t think we have much to worry about, though: No one seems particularly bothered by it all.

Seth Mandel is senior editor of Commentary. © Commentary (commentarymagazine.org), reprinted by permission, all rights reserved.

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