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Israeli soccer club’s anti-racism echoes Israel’s political divide

Israel’s political divide

Storied and crowned soccer club Beitar Jerusalem was for decades a pillar of the Israeli right-wing and an often-extreme symbol of Israel’s lurch towards the right as well as its ever more uncompromising attitude towards an equitable peace with the Palestinians and approach towards its Israeli Palestinian minority. Today, in an anti-cyclical development, Beitar Jerusalem, with its acquisition by technology entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg, is at the forefront of the fight against racism, including anti-Arab sentiment and Islamophobia. Beitar Jerusalem and La Familia, the mostly working-class militant segment of the club’s fan base, long prided themselves on the fact that the club has never hired a Palestinian player even though Palestinians have long been among Israeli soccer’s top performers. La Familia still does. Raucous, fiercely loyal and menacingly racist, La Familia fans, dressed in the yellow and black colours of Beitar Jerusalem with the words La Familia stitched on their shirts, were clearly visible and vocally audible at matches in Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek stadium.

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