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‘Footballer’ Mahmoud Sarsak and Israel’s plot “to eradicate Palestinian sports”

A 2012 Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood ‘Palestinian footballers hunger strike sparks fears for his life‘ informed readers that Mahmoud Sarsak was “a former member of the Palestinian national football team” who “remain[ed] on hunger strike over his imprisonment by Israel without charge”.

“A former member of the Palestinian national football team remains on hunger strike over his imprisonment by Israel without charge…

“Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, has refused food for 80 days, since 19 March. He began his hunger strike after his “administrative detention” order was renewed for the sixth time.”

“He was arrested in July 2009 while on his way from his home in Gaza to a national contest in the West Bank.”

“Sarsak’s family deny that he is a member of any militant organisation.”

However, as we noted at the time, the Guardian failed to inform readers that Sarsak – when he wasn’t playing football – was allegedly an active member of the military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and that the Israeli Supreme Court had upheld his detention out of concerns he would rejoin the terror organization if released.

Even more remarkable than this omission was this risible quote by Sarsak’s father provided by the Guardian.

“The father of the Palestinian footballer, Mahmoud Sarsak, tells us…how he believes his son’s imprisonment is an effort by Israel to destroy Palestinian football“.

Though Sarsak was released in 2012, his legend – as well as the Palestinian narrative concerning a furtive Israeli plan to annihilate Palestinian sport – lives on within the UK media.

An article in the Sport section of Times of London (Palestine Push Back Football Boundaries, Dec. 28th) about the emergence of Palestine’s football team as force within the Asian Football Federation included this passage:

There are countless examples, so many that, in 2013, the Palestinian Football Association went so far as to issue a booklet detailing hundreds of alleged cases. The most famous was that of Mahmoud Sarsak, the player detained by Israel who stayed on hunger strike for 90 days, attracting global media attention and the support of Amnesty International, before being released.

Interestingly, while the Guardian at least acknowledged terror ‘charges’ against Sarsak, the Times of London reporter doesn’t so much as note the ‘footballer’s alleged links to the PIJ terror group. 

The report also included this passage:

Jibril Al-Rajoub, one of the most senior members of the Fatah political party and the president of the Palestinian FA, for one, declared in November that Israel had a “systematic” policy designed “to eradicate Palestinian sports”.

However, Times of London omitted the most incendiary part of Al-Rajoub’s allegations.

Here, per Palestinian Media Watch, is the full quote:

During a press conference at the Association’s headquarters immediately after the raid, Rajoub said that… the raid on the Association’s headquarters was an open confirmation and proof of Israel’s systematic policy, which aims to eradicate Palestinian sports and destroy all means for its spread and development through its daily crimes against sportsmen in Palestine.

He added: ‘[No such thing] has ever occurred in human history, not even in Hitler’s time. Not even Nazism, which everyone spurns, ever interfered and attacked sports and sportsmen, as is being done to the Palestinians.’”

Though no one familiar with the tendency of Palestinian officials to engage in such Holocaust libels and misappropriations would be shocked by Al-Rajoub’s Nazi comparison, Times of London readers deserve better than such serious omissions regarding a highly offensive allegation by the Palestinian minister and the terror background of a ‘footballer’ from Palestine.

14 replies »

  1. Hitler’s pet dog and Palestinian NAZI leader, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem

    Arabs Fly Nazi Flag near Hevron
    Residents of Gush Etzion astounded to see Nazi flag flying near the mosque of Beit Omar.
    Gil Ronen

    Hundreds of residents of Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, were astounded Monday morning to see an oversized Nazi flag flying next to a mosque in the Arab town of Beit Omar.

    The residents notified the IDF.

    A resident, Uri Arnon, told the Tazpit News Agency: “I felt we were going back 75 years, losing our hold on the land. The Arabs no longer feel the need to hide their murderous tendencies, announcing out loud that they wish to annihilate us.”

    An IDF spokesman said that the flag was hung on an electrical line, and that they were waiting to professionals to come and remove it.

    Again: Arabs Fly Nazi Flag Near Road
    The flag was hung high above the highway between Halhoul and the Etzion Bloc.

    For at least the second time in five months, Arab residents of Beit Umar in the Palestinian Authority (PA) have placed a Nazi flag over a major thoroughfare where Jews pass in their vehicles.
    Beit Umar is located a half hour south of Jerusalem, between Halhoul and the Etzion Bloc, not far from Hevron.

    Soldiers from the Haruv battalion in Kfir Regiment tried to take down the flag Saturday, but encountered difficulty because it was placed very high up.

    A similar event took place at Beit Umar in May, when hundreds of residents of Gush Etzion who drove down Highway 60 were astounded to see an oversized Nazi flag flying next to a mosque in the Arab town.

    In a recent key seech, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quoted numerous historical sources showing that the leader of the Palestinian Arabs in the first half of the 20th century, Mufti Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, was “one of the initiators of the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe,” and that he was constantly encouraging the Nazi leadership to annihilate the Jews, throughout the war. He cited evidence that the Mufti even visited the gas chambers at Auschwitz with Adolf Eichmann.

    “The Mufti is still a greatly admired figure in the Palestinian national movement,” said Netanyahu. “These are the weeds that need to be uprooted,” he said. “The root of the conflict is the deep resistance among a hard core of Palestinians to the right of the Jewish people to its own state in Israel.”

    For the Third Time: Palestinians Fly Nazi Flag Over Main Highway
    Arab village of Beit Umar located just north of spot where murdered Israeli teens’ bodies discovered; swastika regularly flown there.
    By Ari Soffer

    For at least the third time in recent months, Arab residents of Beit Umar have flown a Nazi flag over the village facing the main highway, angering Jewish residents.

    The choice of timing is all the more appalling, coming less than a week after the bodies of three Israeli teens were discovered in Hevron.

    Beit Umar itself is located between Hevron and Jewish town of Alon Shvut in the Gush Etzion region – it was outside Alon Shvut that the boys were abducted by their killers as they were on their way home. It lies just north of the Arab village of Halhoul, where the murdered teens’ bodies were discovered last Tuesday by security forces.

    The video was filmed on Sunday, and the flag appears to have been flown to coincide with countrywide riots by Arab extremists over the murder of Arab teen Mohammed Abu-Khder, who was killed in a suspected “revenge attack” for the murder of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Frenkel.

    The riots began in Jerusalem, where police and local Jewish residents were targeted with violence by Arabs, and has since spread to other parts of the country. The violence peaked over the weekend, after Abu-Khder’s burial on Friday, and has since abated slightly, with officials vowing tough measures against Israeli Arabs who participate in the violence.

    The last time a swastika flag was flown over Beit Umar was in October. It was eventually removed after some difficulty, after Arab residents went through great lengths to place the flag in a high, relatively inaccessible point, making it clearly visible from the Route 60 highway.

    A similar event took place at Beit Umar a few months beforehand, when hundreds of residents of Gush Etzion who drove down Highway 60 wereastounded to see an oversized Nazi flag flying next to a mosque in the Arab town.

    As noted in an Arutz Sheva report last year, the use of Nazi symbolismis alarmingly

  5. Al-Rajoub: ” ‘[No such thing] has ever occurred in human history, not even in Hitler’s time. Not even Nazism, which everyone spurns, ever interfered and attacked sports and sportsmen”.

    Leaving aside the deliberate ad unforgivable malice of equating Israel and its Jewish inhabitants with the Nazis, Al-Rajoub also reveals his bombastic stupidity. It is well known by most people with even small semblance of knowledge about the Nazi occupation of areas of the the Soviet Union, that among the many crimes committed by the Nazis in Ukraine, for example, was the murder of all members of the Dynamo Kiev team at the death ravine in Babi Yar for having the audacity to beat the German side.

    Of course, Al Rajoub likes to parade his hypocrisy and ignorance to a western media that is equally ignorant about the importance of history in understanding the contemporary political context of current affairs, and laps up this puerile shit as if he had a valid point to make.

    • ” ‘[No such thing] has ever occurred in human history, not even in Hitler’s time.”
      They’re always saying this sort of stuff. It’s a rather perverse form of self-flattery.

    • To Western media, often historical facts are of no importance and therefore it’s a waste of time to study them: what is important is the ‘narrative’.
      Hell’s bells, there is at least one well known ‘history professor’ who says so quite openly.

  6. Several points of information I wanted to chip in here:
    1. The coverage of Palestinian soccer continues, both in CiF and elsewhere (the World Football Focus website and Huffington Post are particuarly fucked up in this regard), to have a POV that insists that all Palestinians are angels and all Israelis are evil. The truth is that most Palestinian soccer players are just that–Palestinians who play competitive soccer–but a large minority of individuals with ties to Palestinian soccer are like Sarsak and have terrorist ties and backgrounds, and Palestinian cheerleaders (lol) keep whitewashing that fact to make reasonable Israeli actions seem unconscionable.
    2. Al-Rajoub often comes across as someone with Haneen Zoabi Syndrome, whose symptoms involve someone bizarrely combining efforts to ruin Israeli lives and interests with demands that Israel bend over backwards to do favors for them. The fact that Al-Rajoub keeps trying to get Israel kicked out of FIFA should be a main point of how his interactions with Israel are bad, but many reporters either ignore that or engage in pro-Palestinian cheerleading (if you read the editorializing in Israel-FIFA pieces over the last year, it would not be clear at first that the boycott/expulsion efforts have completely failed, and that FIFA’s efforts to resolve I/P tensions are based on having all eligible teams playing wherever they want to, and not on an anti-Israeli/pro-BDS basis).
    3. The Palestinian team’s limited successes have come from playing against weaker Asian competition, while Israel–which has been blackballed from the far inferior Middle East or Asian fields thanks to Palestnian friends–has become a strong national team by playing against top European squads.