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Anybody Coming After Celtic Had Better Make Sure Their Hands Are Clean.

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Celtic is not one thing. That’s the beauty of Celtic.

That’s why the last few days have been so frustrating, because some people are determined to hammer us into that mould with their simple-minded ideology and determination to provoke a fight with the club. Celtic is a lot of things, and most of those things are good. Most of those things are creditable.

I have no problem with freedom of speech.

I have no problem with people exercising their right to hold different opinions than me. But if I’m in someone’s house and they tell me “no politics, no football, no religion” I’ll adhere to that. I respect the House of Celtic as much as any other, and the thing is, almost everyone at Celtic Park does.

Celtic is not one thing. Celtic is a broad church.

Not an all-encompassing one; I covered this yesterday in exhaustive detail and I won’t be going over it again. But it’s a much larger institution than just a handful of fans. There are 60,000 of us at Parkhead every week and you would find a wide range of opinions and views there, as you would anywhere else.

Which is why I think Dolev Haziza – and yeah, I had to look him up as well – should keep his damned mouth shut about Celtic instead of trying to drive a further wedge between the club and Liel Abada.

Celtic is not one thing.

But I’ll tell you one thing Celtic is; a vastly bigger club than Haziza has ever played for or ever will. (He was linked with a move to Ibrox some years back; they didn’t follow through on their interest. Say no more, right?)

So if I were in Abada’s shoes I might listen to Brendan Rodgers and the people at our club rather this guy whose “talents” have never taken him outside of Israeli football.

I’ve done all the criticising a group of our supporters than I’m going to do this week. 10,000 words on it already, and if there’s anything left to say someone else can do it.

My issue right now is with the people – many of them completely ignorant as to what our club is, like this football nobody – who would seek to paint Celtic in a bad light because they disagree with some of our fans.

We know that some of them have agendas.

We know that some of them will use anything against us that they can.

Others are just simply talking guff.

If you’re coming after Celtic, our broad church, know that Celtic is not one thing. And know something else too; your hands better be clean.

Dolev Haziza is, according to our appalling media, “one of the most outspoken sportsmen in Israel.” I can’t find any reference to his political views except that he’s had a rant against Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan for condemning the Israeli government’s savage response to the weekend’s massacre, a response which threatens the wellbeing of over 2 million civilians, many of whom will certainly die as a result of Netanyahu’s government and especially what it is about to do.

Other than that, and some stories linking him to Ibrox, I’ve only found one story about Haziza’s past comments, and that’s when he and another star-struck team-mate sent the equivalent of an Instagram begging letter to Neymar and other PSG players asking for their strips prior – prior – to a game between the Parisian club and his Israeli team.

So he has priorities right there, eah?

Maybe one rant about a world leader whose wholly legitimate, and accurate, opinions you don’t like – and I can’t stand Erdogan by the way, he’s another leech, another wannabe tyrant – qualifies you as outspoken, but I just wonder if there’s more, a lot more, out there and our media simply won’t print it because it might present him in a somewhat different light than they’re trying to do here.

Every single article carries the same wording, identical wording about his being outspoken without actually giving us more than just that one example, which makes me wonder who disseminated this stuff to all of them at the same … because somebody did.

How embarrassing it would be if his “outspoken” political commentary up until now wasn’t exactly egalitarian and principled.

Tell you what, I’ll leave that to the vast army of internet researchers amongst our support who will almost certainly run that down if it happens to be the case …. and then we can see about giving that a wider audience and putting his comments in some context.

But from what I can see from his comments at the moment … highly unimpressed.

He’s never going to play in Turkey he says.

Really? Well, I guess that’s Turkish football’s loss, yeah?

The thing is, if his national team goes there and he doesn’t, that would suggest a greater commitment to his own ideas than he has for his country.

And whilst you ponder that one, I have a sneaking suspicion that as the number of dead in Gaza mounts in the next few weeks that Erdogan isn’t going to be the only world leader talking about human rights violations.

What Israel is doing in the siege of Gaza is a crime under international law; the right to self-defence does not translate into a right to hold hostage an entire people, or a right to bomb residential areas, or a right to cut off humanitarian aid.

And the International Criminal Court wouldn’t have to work terribly hard to prove these things, as the defence minister and others in the Israeli government openly boast about them. When that grossly unpleasant fact can no longer be denied by the world there will be much more criticism along those lines.

Anthony Bilken, the US Secretary of State, has already started with the coded warnings to Israel about what it’s planning to do; “How Israel defends itself matters,” he said today, which is as close as a US official has come so far to saying “Just don’t.”

If I were Haziza, I wouldn’t bother renewing the passport for a while because he’s going to be crossing a lot of countries off his list of places to go.

England is off the list for starters.

Their FA has just announced that there will be a minute’s silence before tonight’s game with Australia to “remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine.” So not much doubt what they think of this.

I would wager that most of Europe will end up on his little list, although as long as Suella Braverman is home secretary here and wanting to criminalise the Palestinian flag, and there’s a place called Ibrox looking for players, that he can still dare to dream of these shores, even if the EPL is out, although he won’t be much good to our neighbours in the Europa Conference League.

(There is another possibility of course, and I hestitate to bring it up; maybe he just doesn’t want to play in a Muslim country that has criticised Israel. I wonder if we’d find something to back that up in his “outspoken” statements, you know all those ones that the media didn’t enlighten us about.)

And that brings me, with much regret, to Nir Bitton because whilst I sympathise with his frustration and with his anger to a certain extent, his own comments seem to tar the whole Celtic support with the same brush and he too needs to know that Celtic is not one thing.

But he should know that, because he was at the club for years.

Oh man, how majestic was his fury as it swept over our fans.

I just wonder when, or if, he intends to say something about fans a little closer to home, and what their attitudes are. Because I would suggest that a large segment of his current club’s supporters have a lot more to be ashamed of than the fans of this one do.

Let me elaborate.

In 2020, a series of articles ran in various journals, during the time when Israeli citizens were protesting against Netanyahu during his trials for corruption, which said that along with the demonstrations against him there were far right demonstrations in his favour … and some of them were augmented by the heavy presence of football fans from two clubs.

Beitar Jerusalem was one of them, and in particular their fan organisation La Familia, which is on the far right even by Israeli standards.

They proudly refer to their club as “Israel’s most racist team” and during those demos their fans chanted, amongst other things, “death to the media” and “we hate all the Arabs.” Nobody who knows anything about them can be in the least bit surprised by that or the level of their vitriol; they are quite open about it all.

The club itself is the only one in the Israeli league never to have signed an Arab player; does that sound familiar? Do they sound like a club we know? Believe me, their fans are ten times worse than the ones from Ibrox. Ten times worse.

Netanyahu himself is a Beitar fan.

The other fans who were involved in the protests, and the violence that arose from them, were the “Maccabi Fanatics”, whose club, Maccabi Tel Aviv, is where you can now find Nir Bitton. And oddly enough, there’s another ex-Celt there too; Robbie Keane, their manager.

The “Maccabi Fanatics” are an ultras group, like The Green Brigade.

Except that they’re really nothing like The Green Brigade.

In 2014, their fan group racially abused an Arab-Israeli playing for their own club.

He got death threats from them.

Graffiti was scrawled around the city saying “We don’t want Arabs at Maccabi.”

In 2019, the player himself, Mahran Radi, spoke about how attempts to reach out to them so they would accept him, which involved drafting in a club legend, utterly failed when the guy, Sheran Yeini, came back and told him, “There’s nothing we can do, they just hate Arabs.”

According to my research, no Arab player has signed for the club since.

That may or may not be the case, but it was true as of 2020, and prominent Israeli sports journalists have confirmed that the ideology of the Maccabi Fanatics is virtually indistinguishable from that of La Familia.

They simply would not tolerate the presence of one in their team.

But you know what else?

Those same journalists go out of their way to say that The Fanatics are not representative of the whole Maccabi support. Indeed, they appear to be an outlier. The club itself might not be on the left, as such, but it’s not on the far right in the way Beitar is. It seems that Maccabi Tel Aviv, as a club, is more than one thing.

But the Maccabi Fanatics are pro-Netanyahu and avowedly racist.

That’s pretty much a settled fact, and we should have an eye on how they respond to the events over there right now, whether they stop at simply commemorating Israeli dead or take a more hardline view on Gaza.

But regardless, I will take Bitton a little bit more seriously when he complains about terracing culture if he ever points that finger at the fans of his own club and says enough is enough.

Because if you’re going to be selective – and his comments on the atrocity at the weekend are already selective, with no thought given to the Palestinians at all except to accuse those who sympathise with their plight of being “brainwashed” – then maybe you should just shut up altogether.

It’s been open season on Celtic this week, Celtic as a club, Celtic as a whole, for the stupidity of a small group of people who might be guilty of no more than crass insensitivity and sheer pig-headedness.

Celtic is not one thing. But Celtic is strong.

Some of you have had your fun, but hunting season on us is over.

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  • Patmchugh says:

    Well said that man supporting a people does not make you a sympacicer of terrorism lsreal should no better than to persicute a nation after what they have been through

  • Seamus O'Broin says:

    Yep, I agree with your comments. Putin has been condemned as a mass murderer when a rocket kills a small number of civilians being used as human shields by Zelensky’s forces in Ukraine. Israel just indiscriminately bombards residential areas and the world is silent.

    • Goodghuy says:

      Putin is an animal.. he is like a Bond villain remember Alexander litvenenko, all he did was disagree with his politics. We are all Ukraine, Ukrainians are now refugees because of the piece of garbage. The green brigade said they stand up for the oppressed, were is there Ukrainian flags, is it only Palestinians they care about ? . Ukrainians have been housed in countries all over the world because of his Dr evil out of Austin powers” I want to take over the world”. I’m a supporter of the west, all Celtic fans are not left wingers by the way, we are a club open to all. It’s about time people tempered that. Hamas are murdering terrorist scum, and it’s them who is to blame for the poor Palestinians for what’s happening just now.

  • Stephen says:

    Abada should confirm he will never play for Celtic while the Scum GB is still in the stadium or he wants a transfer,..utterly disgusting behaviour from them

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      I doubt he or his partner and family if he has children would want to live on dole money for too long Stephen as I don’t see Celtic putting a clause in his contract that he can down tools if he is ‘hurt’ by the words of fans…

      However I do agree that political banners should be reigned in, not to so much curb free speech, but more for the damage it’s causing to our beloved Celtic –

      Having said that the board themselves brought politics right to the very core of Celtic with the serious error of plastering poppies across the sacred Hoops and just for to please the general Scottish public which was a gross error of judgment for sure…

      However if Liel or any other Celtic player was gonna down tools on what is spouted in their direction at Liebrox and elsewhere then Celtic simply wouldn’t have a player available for selection going by that idea !

    • 18871888 says:

      Can ye no read?

  • Paul Murphy says:

    People in glass houses etc. unfortunately our MSM is so warped in its quest for self preservation it cares little for facts or feelings, just gets its story out there without bothering to check on accuracy as long as it gains a few sales or clicks. No one wants anyone to be killed in this conflict but politicians are putting populism over death tolls (including their own). Nir and others are just pawns in a hypocritical media war hat would sell its own family for a click or two.

  • ALLAN M MCINTYRE says:

    I totally agree with one mans opinion is free and democratic, I believe what Hamas did was horrific and was not in the name of their people, who now face Annialation under the FACIST JEWISH NATION ,possible Genocide of Innocents. I know not Jewish people support the ZIONIST running their country just as the people of GAZA dont support what has been done in their name. If peace is not a factor then it will prove there is more than ONE GOD because my GOD would not condone these actions. He would also not condone Celtic Heirachy telling people to be quiet, acting Cowardly like the worlds politicians, who for years have cow-towed to the INHUMANE treatment Israel have given their neighbours, calling it defending their security ,SOUNDS ALL TOO FAMILIAR ESPECIALLY WHEN ITS CLAIMED THE RECENT ACTIONS BY MURDEROUS HAMAS REMINDS THE JEWISH PEOPLE OF THE HOLOCAUST ,MAY THOSE VICTIMS R.I.P, BUT I REMIND YOU ALL OF GROUP CALLED JEWISH AVENGERS- ONE OF THEIR IDEAS WAS TO MURDER MILLIONS IN THE NAME OF REVENGE!!! Someone be brave protect your people but seek Peace as a solution…..

  • BM says:

    The GB are an embarrassment to the club and decent supporters. We are all getting tarred with the same brush because of them.
    The Board should refund their season tickets and tell them they’re not welcome anymore.

  • John says:

    Not sure Nir was having a go at Celtic supporters in general. As I read it he was criticising these morons in the North Curve who held that banner up. He had every right to do so. If I were the Celtic board I would cancel their tickets for Athletico game and refund their money otherwise we are heading for a huge fine or possibly closure of part of the ground if not all of it. Get rid of these clowns as soon as.

  • Bunter says:

    A good article again on this James. Your analysis of the GB banner and subsequent fallout has been excellent. For me, who has lifelong friends who vote Conservative regularly, has friends who are Jewish, friends who are Scottish Nationalists, friends who are SSP members – all of these guys are red hot Celtic supporters and have been for over 30 years. Not everyone at Celtic Park on a Saturday is on the left. The GB have forgotten that.

  • Johnno says:

    Tough one here James, when you seem to be leaning towards the role of politics within football?
    I know both are of huge interest to yourself and knowledgeable on both, but personally like to try and keep them separate as much as possible, even if an impossible task to achieve with being a Celtic supporter.
    Our football rivalry with the scum has always and will possibly always run much deeper than just a football match, will do with myself anyway.
    So of course there remains a massive political issue within such a so called football rivalry.
    Will also accept it stems and still remains hugely from Ireland with the level of history involved within it.
    As I try to work upon finding the right balance within life, easier said than done, there also remains issues that the right balance can never be found, and politics remains possibly the biggest still, and rampant within Scottish football in how it conducts it’s all round affairs.
    We currently have ultra groups within football that are bringing politics within football to a whole new higher level than I can recall within my lifetime.
    So how far is it currently before there is crossing the line to a totally unacceptable level?
    Can’t be answered without being so hypothetical, well for myself that case remains.
    Believe our mantra of “A club for all” is more relevant today than ever, with so many in line to hammer us currently upon any political agenda that can be seen within the club at this moment in time.
    This is also where I also believe the GB are so wrong with trying to bring and promote such a political agenda into the club, and adding extra one’s that we currently have to deal with?
    Remain proud of what our club represent, yet don’t believe we need to sail into uncharted waters either.
    The GB and there petty ongoing fights with the board and now adding uefa to the list is not the best representation and a total unwanted look upon the club at present.
    Starting to wonder is there such a thing as a football supporter these days, as remains a massive problem still within Scotland especially Glasgow as a city?

  • Your Triumphant Victor says:

    Teach me a lesson oh mighty one!

    Show me your POWER!

    • James Forrest says:

      See what I did there?

      You getting it now? There’s no debate here fella.

      One of us has the power. The other does not. And with that power I can make you DANCE. I can make you SQUIRM WITH YOUR OWN EMBARRSSMENT. Not only do I NOT have to discuss ANYTHING with you but I can, if I want to, WARP YOUR POSTS into whatever shape I want and make you look like an even sadder bastard than you already are.

      You think you’re WINNING THIS? You’re lucky I’ve got two minutes to spare writing this. You post on here, or try to, DOZENS of times a week, in various guises … and 99% of what you try to get online NEVER makes it past a first glance. Not a reading. A first glance. And then it goes in the bin.

      I’m indulging it here to mock you. To demonstrate who has the whip. To show you what I can do to you every day IF ONLY YOU WERE WORTH THE EFFORT.

      But you’re fucking not. You’re nobody.

  • Effarr says:

    Celtic were good enough to allow. s Abada time off to celebrate a Jewish religious festival. He should remember that. If they had done the same for the catholic players among the Lisbon lions they would have lost the game in Lisbon since it was played on a Holy Day of Obligation. As for Bitton, he had plenty of opportunities to complain when he was at Celtic Park but, as he himself stated, he was quite happy to sit out his contract at a time when they would have been happy to unload him.

  • Gerryfr62 says:

    Celtic have inadvertently given a platform to a political group to spout their beliefs on many a topic week in week out. They’re not there to watch the football and there’s supporters who can’t get a ticket for any away matches.
    It’s time to nip them in the bud.

  • JOHN BURNS says:

    Let’s stop ‘beating about the bush’, The GB we’re celebrating at the exact time that Hamas were carrying out their slaughter of children, kids, women, men and the elderly and infirmed.

    The GB are not animals – animals do not act as they did.

    Some of our people are turning into contortionists in an attempt to shut their eyes to the massacre – ten times worse than 9/11.

    Hamas are the worst kind of terrorists – they want to destroy Israel and murder all Jews – in doing so they crush the Palestinian people underfoot.

  • Christina says:

    Superb piece of writing James, one of your best ever and I agree with every word! Your defence of our club and our ideals is a joy to behold. More power to your elbow/ keyboard!

  • William says:

    Really like reading your blog , unfortunately it will fall on deaf ears as far as the media in this country is concerned, but keep up the excellent work, look forward to your next piece ??

  • Mr G says:

    A true celtic fan..(probably far and few between)..would have been outraged with the Banner at Celtic Park that said Free Palestine,…w.t.f that has to do with the actual club is beyond me,…but hey,…what do you expect from a club steeped in Pedophilia, and the rest

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