Israel's Response to Racism at Soccer Matches

ADL Letter to The New York Times

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times

To the Editor:

In a thriving vibrant democracy based on principles of equality and respect, holding up a mirror to society is a tried and true first step toward making progress against the ever-present ills of hate, bigotry and prejudice. Indeed, it is only in such democracies where it is possible to make significant advances in the fight against the forces of bigotry. 

It should be a source of great pride for all Israelis that the current President and one of its former Prime Ministers forcefully, clearly and, most importantly, publicly condemned the outrageous behavior of Beitar’s fans.  For years across the world soccer matches have been the prime venue for racist expressions and violence.  The response in Israel should be a shining example for all political leaders around the globe. 

Israel has its share of ugly prejudice and, as in most societies, more than enough of a committed and vocal minority of bigots ready and willing to incite hatred.  One would draw the absolutely wrong conclusion if, after looking at the unquestionably vile examples in your article, they thought these were representative of Israeli society.  They most certainly are not. 

It is the responsibility of political, religious and civic leaders to “hold up the mirror” so the vast majority of good people will see and be motivated to take action against the most stubborn of societal ills, hatred, bigotry and prejudice.  President Peres and former Prime Minister Olmert are showing the way. 

We are certain the good people of Israel are up to the task.


The Anti-Defamation League

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