Soccer Hooligans: Egypt’s vs Israel’s

A Clockwork OrangeAfter reading about Egyptian soccer hooligans’ mayhem, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius makes a compelling comparison between Egyptian soccer hooligans and the “droogs.” They’re the young toughs Anthony Burgess depicted in A Clockwork Orange. (You might be more familiar with Stanley Kubrick’s movie.)

Unfortunately, Ignatius also ties in an Israeli comparison that’s much less apt.

The revolt of alienated soccer youths is hardly confined to North Africa. In Israel, a soccer team called Beitar Jerusalem is supported by racist young fans who chant “Death to the Arabs” and recently unfurled a banner that proclaimed “Beitar Pure Forever” to express their opposition to recruiting Muslim players. “When talking about Beitar, it’s actually showing a mirror for Israeli society,” Nidal Othman, director of the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, told the New York Times.

Soccer hooliganism is endemic, as well, in Britain and many other European nations. Racist chants can be heard on soccer pitches across the continent.

Ignatius cites Beitar because it’s a relatively fresh story. And Beitar Jerusalem’s racist soccer fans are easy condemn because they’re disgusting and do deserve our censure.

But recentness does not an apt comparison make.

The Beitar fans in the news don’t represent all the team’s fans, and certainly not a significant segment of Israeli society. While last week’s Beitar-Bnei Sakhnin match required a beefed up police presence at Teddy Stadium, nobody worried about nationwide riots or Israeli soccer fans toppling the government.