Celtic Fans Were Far From The Only Ones Glad To See Israel Crash Out Of The Euros.

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Over the last week, I saw a lot of stuff on social media where people were openly mocking Israel’s national team for the way they crashed to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Iceland in the Euros. The game was played in Budapest. The Israeli players and their manager must have felt very far from home. That’s a feeling they’ll need to get used to.

Iceland’s manager, Age Hareide, was uncompromising in the run up to the game. He expressed his clear view about the match. He didn’t want to be there either, but for different reasons; “because of what is happening in Gaza and because of what they have done to women, children and other innocent civilians … we shouldn’t be playing this game if you ask me.”

He is not the first person to express this sentiment. He will certainly not be the last.

In the aftermath of the match, the Israeli national coach, who had accused Celtic of basically being an antisemite club at the height of the Abada affair, was foaming at the mouth as usual, objecting to a perfectly reasonable question with a rant. “”You spoke about a topic you don’t know much about,” he said to one journalist. “Do you regret that? In Israel we have faced massacre, murder, rape, hostage taking. Why do you have your political bias?”

Political bias as expressed by his weird, and perhaps bigoted, myopia is all you ever get from this guy. But much of the world disagrees, strongly, with his position and is appalled by the behaviour of his country and so he, and his players, should actually be pretty glad that they won’t be at the Euros where every opponent they face would probably express their own disgust.

The Palestinian flags he was so infuriated by in Scotland would have stalked their every step and that would only have been the start of it.

That tournament would have been extremely uncomfortable for them and when you think about it, that is a pretty extraordinary thing to write.

On 7 October it was his country which was attacked, it was their civilians who were murdered, it was his people who were in shock and in mourning at the horror of it.

And on that day, the world was united in condemnation of the atrocity that was visited on them. Almost every country on the planet expressed its support for them and the disgust at Hamas was virtually universal across the political sphere except in that handful of places where you do find the genuine antisemites.

It should have been impossible to destroy so much goodwill as thoroughly as Israel has done, but that’s what happens when you’ve spent decades treating the Palestinians like animals until you no longer think of them any other way.

There are elements of that Israeli government that were just thirsting for this. That, in fact, might have been Hamas’ calculation from the beginning.

It’s not crazy to suggest that Netanyahu and his brutal government might have played the role of the Idiot to perfection here.

Israel now stands accused of “collective punishment.”. Of violating the UN Charter. Of genocide. Israel. The country established in the shadow of that most monstrous crime.

The UN has just passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire. Israel’s deranged statement has said it’s an antisemitic organisation with an antisemite at its head.

He should file suit for that; this is an allegation that is too freely thrown about, and everyone who is unduly accused of it should take legal action over it until it’s no longer used with abandon, and to stifle any and all dissent.

They have lost all sense of proportion. The government of Israel is burning the nation’s moral standing to ashes. There is little left of their claim to be the one country in the region which embraces the rule of law; it was a dubious claim to begin with but they certainly have no real claim to it now, behaving like an outlaw nation, refusing aid convoys access, bombing civilian areas, imprisoning two million people and on and on and on.

Their national coach must have thought he was speaking from a position of strength when he attacked our club so recklessly, so stupidly, so ignorantly.

But more and more it is clear that it is the position held by Celtic fans which echoes around the world, and that response would have been waiting for the Israeli national team the moment their players got off the plane for that competition, had they gotten past Iceland and made the finals.

I am not saying that teams would have refused to play them, but many of them would have expressed their frustration at having to and many, many players would have condemned them in their statements to the media. I wrote a piece some weeks ago about how football could take a lead here and effectively freeze Israel out of the game in Europe; that looks more and more like something that not only should happen but will happen.

The Icelandic manager went out of his way, after the game, to express his sympathy for Israel’s footballers, and he was entirely correct to do that. They are not personally at fault for the policies of their government, although some of them have echoed the bigotry edged rhetoric of the manager over the course of this crisis.

But Russian footballers were not responsible for the outrages perpetrated by their government over Ukraine, nor were South African sportsmen and women responsible for theirs; all paid the price regardless, and it must be so if those governments which behave in this way are to be punished.

More of them should be.

There’s an argument for saying that we could and should have been over the scandal of Iraq. It is one of the ways the world confers pariah status on countries which act in a manner which cross the line and act as renegades.

Celtic fans by and large were pretty satisfied with the result.

It would have been better had UEFA suspended Israel entirely, but seeing them defeated on the pitch was something at least.

But had they made it, had they got there, I think all of Europe would have let them know well in advance of the competition that they might have qualified, but they were not welcome. That’s the message that I’d have liked to see sent. I still think in some way it will be.

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  • Charles Donaghy says:

    Resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire was passed by the UN today. America abstained.Biden like Netanyahu has blood on his hands. As a Roman Catholic he should be ashamed. But he won’t be . As long as the bloodthirsty rich Jews are lining senators pockets nothing will change. Murdering bastards all of them

  • SSMPM says:

    The murderous bastards deserve all of the condemnation they get.
    October 7th was absolutely shocking and people around the sane world rightly sided with Israel for the events of that and the following days, weeks and months.
    It was convenient to them that the same world was forgetting the land grabs of so called ‘settlers’, false imprisonments and atrocities they had committed against the Palestinians for the decades of years prior to that.
    Sadly it didn’t take them long to remind the world of their benign proclivity for outright utter cruelty. I fear there is atrocity after atrocity yet to come.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    This is one that I cannot really comment on James as I haven’t watched the international news for almost four years now and I don’t regret that one little bit neither I do…

    I don’t even watch the Scottish News either – only the one in Ireland from time to time –

    I honestly don’t know what is going on out there and to be honest it’s too stressful to get involved in and too far away as well to influence and I prefer to go out on daily nature trails to see eagles, buzzards, sandpipers, barnacle geese, lapwings and the like and a bit of sea fishing off rocks and fly fishing as well while listening to 60’s – 70’s and Irish music – Both folk and rebel on the iPod while out and about on the said pastimes…

    But I am learning a bit on here about things (I never went to school much and when I did I was sometimes suspended or they were on strike and I just went to the underage pub and played pool) !

    But Celtic supporters seem to be allies of Palestine…
    And Celtic Bhoys and Ghirls are very very good folks from good very very good stock indeed…

    So of course then I’ll side with oppressed folks…

    Just as long as it doesn’t get Celtic into trouble…
    Which it won’t as I am no longer a paying customer / fan (self suspended) !

  • Dee says:

    speak for your self. Not all Celtic fans are anti Israel zealots

    • Stephen Mc Dowell says:

      Not all Celtic fans are anti Israel, not all Celtic fans are zealots, not all Celtic fans are anti Israel zealots but the vast VAST majority of Celtic fans are anti land-grabbing racist murdering bas*ards.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      I’m not exactly sure if it is me you are referring to or not in your post (clarification would be handy should it be me)…

      However I certainly ain’t an anti Israel zealot for sure…

      I stated and stand by what I said in that I know nothing about the country, nor Palestine, nor the conflict either…

      However – I given that I am an ardent supporter of Independence for Scotland and Freedom for Ireland to be Gaelic, Peaceful, United and Free, perhaps I could be labelled as Anti British…

      And given it’s (Britain) sordid and wretched history, steeped in blood, pillage, theft, and war crimes it might even be fair game to label me an Anti British zealot, but as I say I’m not an anti Israeli zealot as I know nothing about the country at all !

    • Keith says:

      99.9% of us are vehemently against genocide,no matter who’s doing it

  • Chris says:

    Israel is not in the continent of Europe,and should not be in UEFA competitions,simple as.

  • Nick66 says:

    I’ll be honest James, this may be one of your best articles. You have captured the thinking of many right minded people regarding the current genocide in Gaza. I’m not going to elaborate, I’ll just agree and make further comment later. However, keep highlighting the story, the horrors and ultimately the truth..

  • Stevie Bhoy says:

    They shoildnt even be competing in european competition James, isnt Palestine based in the middle east after all? Keep politics out of sport they tell us eh. Most of europe would have let them know how they feel (only to get called anti semite? ? Most if europe anyway apart from the hosts. Germany has proven to be a pathetic nation once again on the wrong side of history calling anyone who criticises israel as antisemites. And i say that with a heavy heart because i had a lot of time for germany and in particular fc sankt pauli as i followed that club for the best part of 20 years until the start of this massacre when they nailed the jolly roger firmly to the star of st david. Incidentally, i wonder how st david would feel about all of this

    • William Melvin says:

      I don’t think Saint David has anything to do with the star on the Israeli flag.
      Iirc,the Star of David refers to King David,the ancient King of Israel.

  • Effarr says:

    Why are they allowed to play in the Euros anyway when they are as European as Chairman
    Mao (or Kyogo)?

  • Martin says:

    Nobody will be happier than UEFA, who can continue to be spineless and inert.

    Israel should have been ejected weeks if not months ago. And shame for their footballers, but we as a society need to show that certain things cannot be tolerated by civilised countries.

  • John says:

    I get the comments about IDF but please a bit of balance. Hamas has held Palestinians hostage and weaponised that population and are keeping hostages as a weapon. How do you negotiate with a regime that wants to destroy you.

    Balance please.

  • Gerry says:

    A fine article James, with many pertinent points. One of them is their continued involvement in football/sport, whilst other nations have suffered sanctions, due to hostile actions/policies of their governments!The historical Israel/Palestine problem is, as we all may know, one which is far too complex to discuss in a few lines.
    The people running Israel,
    Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir, & Smotrich,
    are attempting to erode democracy and the judiciary, with their extremism. They don’t ever want there to be Palestinian self-determination. They believe in Biblically granted Jewish sovereignty.
    Which goes against everything when the UN resolution 181 was affirmed in 1947. ( Some more wonderful work done by our British governments over the years!) The Palestinians still wait for their piece of that Resolution !!!

    We say politics and sport shouldn’t mix, but how many times has this been disproved and ignored.

    The bottom line, regardless of politics, extremism, and insanity, is that thousands of innocent, peace loving people, EVERYWHERE, have lost their lives and that is the most tragic thing on our planet. Very, very sad!

    They used to say that world leaders ( tyrants/despots/dictators) who initiate wars and conflicts, should be put in a ring with each other and fight it out themselves. I’d vote for that.

    Anyway, back to the football, and hopefully our team can overcome the ‘zealots/bigots,’ in our own wee backwater, and win this title ! Starting this Sunday ! HH

  • SSMPM says:

    This is not about simply taking an ant zealot viewpoint. The slaughtering of innocents all over Gaza by Israelis isn’t difficult to see.
    What’s the common feature to all these powerful nations? They all say they’re religious and that God is on their side and guides them. Netanyahu, Biden, Putin, Ayatollah, etc, whereas Hitler and Trump are more cult like and think they’re actually God.
    Feckin religious people are only kidding yourselves

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    PS – The above post from me was in relation to that one posted by Dee on March 25, @ 11.08 PM !

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