McGowan’s Piece On Abada Was Appalling. Celtic Fans Should Not Lend It, Or Him, Credibility.

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Last night, Mr In The Know published his latest piece of stunning ignorance. I know there are a lot of Celtic fans who “respect” Stephen McGowan, as someone with good contacts but I’ve always thought of him as just another “lobby correspondent”, one of those hacks who wouldn’t make a living if he had to go and find stories instead of being fed them.

In short, I regard McGowan as little more than a useful idiot for several clubs and people within those clubs who want to get out stories and push the party line. It’s not for nothing that this site used to call him Lawwell’s pet hack, and we only stopped doing that when Lawwell was no longer in a position to feed him scraps from the table.

He now spends much of his time criticising Lawwell, which is not a mark of any Damascene conversion to what some of us have been writing all along, but a reaction born of spite at being cut out of the loop. You may have gathered that I’m not a fan.

And quite why any Celtic fan is giving credence to his latest piece I do not know because it stinks to high heaven. The subject is Liel Abada and it’s basically an article saying Abada will have to leave Celtic for his own sake if he wants to maintain his relationships back in his native Israel. It’s a disgusting article, to be frank, and I’m going to tell you why.

First and foremost, it’s a disgusting article because it presumes that Abada is both weak and stupid. Weak that he’ll bow to pressure from a handful of rabid dogmatists back in his native land and stupid because it presumes that he’s had some recent and rude awakening as to the politics of a small section of the Celtic Park crowd. Neither of those things is true.

For openers, Israelis telling Abada that he’s at the wrong club isn’t new. People have been telling Abada that since he signed for us, including that mouthy national coach of his who has called our fans anti-Semites. Abada knows that’s absolute bollocks and he signed a new deal in the summer when some of those same people were urging him to move on.

Celtic made headlines in Israel for the Palestinian flag protest in 2016.

As such, there is a section of the Israeli football public which detests Celtic. Nir Bitton had been at Celtic for three years at that point and he stayed another four. Abada, of course, has signed since then and played in front of those Palestinian flags many times. All the while people back home have been telling him Celtic is the wrong club.

Abada is a strong character.

He is not some mental weakling who can’t recognise the truth when its all around him. He’s learned to shut it out. He feels welcome and respected and at home inside Celtic and he’s not going to pay a blind bit of notice to the kind of people who have passed judgement on our club and our fans without understanding either.

There is a streak of bigotry in what some of those more rancid individuals in the Israeli national team and on its periphery are telling him. Support for the Palestinians isn’t anti-Semitic and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Any Israeli citizen who thinks what their country is doing over there is right and proper and will allow no dissent is guilty of the sort of sectarianism they decry.

There are hard-line Israelis who want to wipe out the Palestinian people. He’s not one of them, although he quite obviously shares a dressing room when on international duty with several players who are.

But Abada is also surrounded by people who know better than that.

McGowan’s biggest presumption is that the important people in Abada’s life right now are just as close-minded as that section of Israeli society which is ultra-nationalist and hard right. It’s not true. Most Israelis don’t believe in that stuff, most of them understand that there’s no rainbow and happy ending at the bottom of all the violence that’s been unleashed in recent months. Most of them realise their country is not safer, but in greater peril, as a result of all that chaos.

And many of them, a great many of them, sympathise with the plight of Palestine and its imprisoned people and are heartily ashamed of the policies of the government. I don’t know what Abada’s politics are, but I do know that the number of people in Israel who will hold him up as some sort of traitor because he wears a Celtic strip is vanishingly small and he is not the sort of person who will bow to their sort of “pressure” at all.

For any journalist, venturing into subjects you’re not qualified to talk about, or intelligent enough to tackle competently, is pretty stupid.

It’s worse when, like McGowan, you are writing for a deplorable right-wing hate rag which is probably filled with people who detest our club and think the worst of it and would be glad to see Abada leave and brand Celtic as an Evil Empire.

But see, I can write that because I do know what I’m talking about, I am on safe ground when I write about the politics of The Daily Mail and I follow political events all over the world closely, so I am qualified to write what I’m about to.

Today, the Israeli government has accused the South African government of acting as “the legal arm of Hamas” for daring to suggest that their actions in Gaza constitute genocide. You might think the South African claim is overblown but Israel’s response to it is the sort of Trumpian unrestrained raving that that no credible nation state should ever resort to.

There’s a historical irony here, of course, in that Israel was one of the few countries which was late in supporting sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid regime. On top of that, the Israelis trained a lot of the Afrikaners racist security forces. South Africa was the seventh country to formally recognise the State of Israel … and although they fell out for a time in the 1960’s, by the 70’s they were best buddies and helping each other in various ways.

According to Seymour Hersh, Israel and South Africa co-operated on their nuclear programs, which is about as close a political link as you will ever get. You know why the two countries have cooled their relations? Because the current South African government has been an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause and the ANC has branded Israel an apartheid state.

That’s the reason for Israel’s lunatic reaction today, and I bring this up because it’s symptomatic of the general hysteria which has gripped much of the government over there, many of whom would happily bulldoze all of Gaza and resettle the land on the blood of its current inhabitants.

Those are the sort of people McGowan thinks Abada should be listening to, or that he will be listening to and that he should leave Celtic to appease.

But I have more faith in the player to take a more nuanced approach to this, and I have more confidence in the majority of those in the country where he’s from that they too understand that you can support Palestine without hating the Jews.

There are always extreme emotions in a country at war.

But Celtic is not an anti-Israeli club and it would take someone of astonishing, wilful ignorance to attempt to portray us as one, and we shouldn’t be pandering, as a club or as a society, to people who see and hear and believe only what suits their prejudices.

Furthermore, supporting the Palestinians is not the same as seeking the dissolution of the Israeli state. Israel is not Ukraine, buckling under an invasion. Israel was the victim of a terrorist atrocity and is now behaving like the aggressor. Their conduct is little different to that of the US and the UK when they invaded Iraq, which I also considered a crime under international law.

So flying Palestine’s flag at Celtic Park is not the celebration of an oppressive regime or an invading power or an occupying force. Most Palestinians simply want a state of their own and the security and the freedom to run it on their own terms. And I cannot stress this enough; Israelis who are offended by the Palestinian flag flying at Celtic Park are bigots and McGowan’s suggestion that Abada could or should bow to that bigotry is disgusting even for that rag he writes for.

Celtic fans have shown support and solidarity for a people who’ve been brought to their knees by an appalling over-reaction designed more to satiate the needs of one grotesque human being, Benjamin Netanyahu, than it is to ensure that Israel has secure borders.

That thug and gangster is the only person on the planet who has sought to widen the suffering for his own benefit. He has dipped his hands in blood as a means of distracting his citizens from his own incompetence and failure in that the 7 October attacks happened at all.

And he will face a reckoning when this ends, which is why he doesn’t want it to, a fact many Israelis recognise. They also understand that the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians cannot be justified on that basis. Many more recognise the hatred it sews for their country around the world and they are genuinely concerned by that.

This is a subject which, to be brutally honest, is miles beyond a tame, spoon-fed hack of McGowan’s limited understanding and shallow intellect, and that he’s opted to write about it anyway only exposes him as a pure fool.

The entire column is nothing but an embarrassment.

Yet for all that, my inbox and social media are filled today with people telling me that the new signing is Abada’s replacement, and this in spite of the club having told several of the bloggers that this is not the case and in spite of Rodgers telling us all just the other day that Liel is in a good place mentally and the club continues to support him.

So for McGowan perhaps that’s job done.

He’s stirred up some shit and may even be feeling pretty happy with himself as a result.

Celtic fans should not be lending credibility to that article, or to that man.

It was shameful what he wrote and published.

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  • John S says:

    Liel Abada. Israel. So many distant keyboard experts who don’t know what it’s like to live in daily fear of another attack (October 7th) and anti-Semitism, which no-one can deny is coming out of the woodwork in other guises, in this and other countries. There is no ‘Palestine’, there never was. There are a number of other misconceptions in the article. “Israelis who are offended by the Palestinian flag flying at Celtic Park are bigots”. What ? Let’s have Isis flags in George Square, then. Swastikas on Glasgow Green. Indeed, how can anyone be offended by the flags flown in celebration of a massacre ?

    • James Forrest says:

      You know something, you’re pushing your fucking luck.

      The Palestinian flag and the Nazi flag?

      You better wind it in pal. I am not the only person who will find that grotesquely offensive.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      You forgot to add The Butchers Apron John S – It’s the worst massacre flag of the lot with its history…

    • Elizabeth Forsyth says:

      You are a complete fkn moron. ” Let’s fly the Isis flag and swastikas” wtf. Is wrong with you?????. Mr John S .you really need to have a word way yourself FFS

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