As Israel tries to gain its place in the international arena, it faces more difficulties than other nationalities do. An Israeli soccer team, Hapoel Petah Tikva were attacked after a practice in Sochocin, Poland.
The Israeli team were playing a practice game against the local Polish club MKS Ciechanow 45 miles from Warsaw, and requested police protection for the match. When the practice ended, police promptly left. Afew minutes later, 25 skin-headed [Neo-Nazi] men some masked attacked three players.
One player was injured after three attackers punched him in the face, causing his lip to bleed. In addition, two other players were injured. After calling for help, the attackers fled to the woods and only one was caught by police.
Doron Galant, the team’s owner, ordered his group not to leave the hotel until the flight back tjhe following day. A player added: “It was very scary, and reminded me of movies we sometimes see on TV. We returned to the hotel, but no one has any will to do anything whatsoever. By miracle it ended just in bleeding face, but it could have ended much worse. An Israeli group abroad is always a target.”
An Israeli Knesset Member Yoel Razbozov asked the Polish ambassador to Israel to urge the Polish leadership to condemn the grave case. “The violence in sports is a global problem, but it appears as this attack was antisemitic, and racism is a problem we expect your government to condemn and act against.” He concludesd: “Poland and Israel have built a positive relationship in the last years, and in this spirit we expect the Polish police to find those incharge.”
A Polish Government spokesman did respond, saying that “Legia Warsaw fans attack players of opponent groups without connection to their ethnicity.” Leaders were upset as they did not believe the statement addresses the antisemitic nature of the attack.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the world’s largest Jewish rights organizations, called for disciplinary measures against Legia Warsaw for the assumed connection to the case. They declared that their fans had nothing to do with the attack. Assumingly out of lack of evidence, the Simon center apologized and withdrew its accusation. The case is being investigated.
It is a familiar phenomenon that sports group fans attribute to the game national meanings, as their home team represents national pride. Therefore racist chants and symbols are common, however unjust they may be. However, this case of intended violence only shows the true consequences of tolerance toward exaggerated nationalism, which borders with neo-Nazism and antisemitism.
Sources: Ynet, Washington Post, radio Poland
By: Roni Zedek