Common Space asks us to give Israel a wee Break

Ross Ahlfeld, writing for Common Space, just doesn’t think that it was kosher for Celtic’s Green Brigade to show its support for the Palestinian people by waving Palestinian flags in the Glasgow club’s match against Hapoel Be’er Sheva. He can’t get his head around the idea that a sporting outfit might be representative in some way of the state from which it comes and the behaviour of that state towards its citizens, those under its military occupation, the victims of its human rights violations, and it flagrant disregard for international law.

Apparently the “tired old retort” that anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism doesn’t wash anymore, and that such displays of solidarity with the people of Palestine are little more than a bunch of bhoys venting their [anti-Semitic] ire at a team of “Jewish footballers in Scotland.” For Ahlfeld and this entire class of hasbara the treatment of Hapoel Be’er Sheva and the actions of the whole Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is exactly the same as the “collective punishment” visited daily on the thousands of men, women, and children held in brutal captivity by the State of Israel.

All of this of course is because we on the secular left aren’t in tune with the tradition and ancestry that guides the Israeli left – the sainted left of Labour Zionism and the Kibbutzim – and because of this we are incapable of grasping the signs and wonders of Judaism. Unable as we are to appreciate such lofty ideas we reject the two state solution and Israel’s very right to exist. His argument is eloquent. It truly is. It is such a shame that it is a whopping great load of crap.

When it comes to Israel’s much sung right to exist, it is worth bearing in mind that no state – not Israel, not even Scotland – has an inherent right to exist. States, by the simple reality of their existence exist, and no one is denying the existence of Israel. If God must be brought into this – as Ahlfeld does – then by God, doesn’t Israel let us know that it exists. This constant, boring Israeli whine about us not wanting to recognise its right to exist serves a singular purpose; to act as a smokescreen for the very real ethnic cleansing and genocide perpetrated by Israel to ensure the future non-existence of Palestine. A two state solution?! Has Ross even seen the map of Palestine as it is currently cantonised by the growing number of illegal Israeli sanctioned settlements? There will be no two state solution; there never was going to be a two state solution, and that wasn’t Celtic or Palestine’s doing.

He cleverly glosses over (actually he just ignores) the fact that the Jewish Bund wasn’t an Israeli Jewish labour movement. His famous Bund was a quintessentially European proletarian movement that was born and died before the plantation of Israel in Palestine and the Nakba of its native population; a history of imperialism and colonialism that would have had Bundists like Victor Alter, Henryk Ehrlich, and Esther Frumkin spinning in their graves.


His equation of this Israeli soccer team being subjected to the reminder of its state’s behaviour by a flegs demonstration with collective punishment is cruel, insensitive, and absurd to the point of utter stupidity. Collective punishment in occupied Palestine is the routine demolition of homes, the construction of an economy destroying, family dividing Apartheid wall, the execution of Palestinian youths (who have the inalienable right under international law to protect their homeland), arrest and detention – often of children – without trial, and the hosing of houses with synthetic excrement. In this context, Ahlfeld’s call for a “peaceful solution” is a demand that we all just quieten down and permit the violence and injustice of the status quo.

Well, as a Kilmarnock supporter, I’m right behind the Celts on this one. And, as he wants to keep bringing the Almighty to his defence, I too belong to the Christian left, and I have long experience as a delegate to and a member of the International Council of Christians and Jews, and I am not prepared to let him pull the wool over my eyes with his Christian-ish rhetoric. Peace is not possible without justice, and justice is not imaginable without truth. So, let’s keep this about the truth. The truth here, as he should well know, is that sport is politics, and teams are the face of their states. Perhaps Ahlfeld hasn’t realised that Israel is a democracy, and the State of Israel wouldn’t be able to get away with half the stuff it does without the support of the majority of Israelis.

Israel must be shunned by the international community, and this is the opinion of the majority. Governments – with their own special strategic interests – are ignoring this majority, and the Green Brigade was well in the right to do what it did. This had nothing to do with punishing “Jewish footballers,” but it had a lot to do with sending Israel a message. It had more to do with sending Palestine a message: Scotland – a nation unfree – is with you! Shanah Tovah agus Salaam.

The Butterfly Rebellion
Jason Michael
Ayrshire, Scotland