As Israel tries to gain its legitimate place in the international arena, it faces more difficulties than other nationalities do. A proof to that may be found in the case that occurred on the 2nd of August, as 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 in a field 45 miles from Warsaw, near the woods. Out of past experience, they demanded the presence of local Police on the place. Yet at the second the practice ended, the police left. A few minutes later, 25 skin headed men, some of them masked, cracked out of the woods. Seeing the players left, the men, identified first as team Legia Warsaw fans, attacked three personnel men.
The team’s store man was hurt by three men who attacked him with feasts to his face, causing a lip injury. Two other staff members were injured. Someone yelled and all of the team rushed to help; the assailants fled back to the woods, and only one was caught. The hotel manager called the police, and as they arrived, they arrested one man, familiar to the police.
Doron Galant, the team owner, reported of the event to “ONE” sports channel, and ordered his group not to leave the hotel until the flight back tomorrow. A player of the team added: “It was very scary, reminded of movies we sometimes see on TV. The players proved responsibility when they protected their friends. 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 Member-Knesset name Yoel Razbozov asked the Polish ambassador to Israel to act in order to make the Poland leadership 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 concludes: “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.”
Polish Government spokesman did respond, saying that “legia Warsaw fans attack players of opponent groups without connection to their ethnicity”. Even assuming this statement is correct, it does not mend the situation and only alerts to act upon this violent group.
The story was not over. 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. Legia Warsaw declared that their fans had nothing to do with the attack, furthermore, they were busy on another town. 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 in those scenes, yet it does not make it just. This case of intended violence only shows the true consequences of tolerance toward exaggerated nationalism, bordering with fascism, neo-Nazism and antisemitism. The right immediate act should include at least condemnation coming out of the Polish government and enforcement against the committing of hate crimes.
Sources: Ynet, Washington Post, radio Poland
By: Roni Zedek