The New York Times has published an op-ed by Palestinian soccer player Iyad Abu Gharqoud, demanding that FIFA kick Israel out of international soccer. The Times allows Gharquod to play the role of the aggrieved victim but ignores the fact that his soccer team, the Hilal Al-Quds club, held a tournament for 12-year-olds named for terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led an attack on a bus in 1978 that killed 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children, according to Palestinian Media Watch.
Gharqoud’s main complaint is that Palestinian “coaches and referees are blocked from moving between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and frequently are barred from tournaments.” That is for the very simple reason that Palestinian terrorists are still at war with Israel.
The terrorist group Hamas, for example, controls the Gaza Strip and uses it to launch deadly attacks on Israeli civilians, resulting in restrictions on travel that necessarily apply to all Palestinians, not just elite soccer players.
When peace-oriented groups have organized friendly soccer matches between Palestinians and Israelis, the Palestinian Authority has denounced them. Last year, Palestinian officials called a game between Israeli and Palestinian boys, which was sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace, a “crime against humanity.”
The man who made that statement, Jibril Rajoub, is leading the effort to have Israel suspended from FIFA. Gharqoud mentions none of that in his Times op-ed.
The real omission, however, is the fact that his club has a history of support for terrorism–which proves exactly why Israel’s restrictions are required, and exposes the bias behind the Times decision to run his op-ed.
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted Friday, the Palestinian effort at FIFA is an attempt to deny Israel’s right to exist.
And as the Israeli legal NGO Shurat HaDin notes in its own FIFA complaint about Rajoub, Palestinian soccer has a terror problem.