At Monday night's soccer match between Betar Jerusalem and Bnei Sakhnin, a group of Betar fans unfurled a massive banner, which read, "You don't represent us, Abbas Suan."
The implication was clear: while the civilized world was rejoicing in the fact that an Arab player - the captain of the only Premier League team based in an Israeli Arab town - scored the national team's late equalizer in a vital World Cup qualifying match against Ireland last month, a phalange of Betar fans was disavowing itself of Suan's contribution to the national team. (By extension, they presumably want no part of Walid Badir's equalizer against France four days after the Ireland game.)
That must come as something of a relief for Suan. Since hitting the headlines with a wave of his boot, Suan has been turned into a symbol of Jewish-Arab coexistence by the national and international media - a heavy burden for a mere soccer player to carry. Suan has now been relieved of the extra weight of having to represent the Neanderthals at Betar who abuse all Arab players, irrespective of the colors they are wearing.
If the Betar fans' racism precludes them from accepting an Arab player as part of the national team, perhaps it is time to make a conscious decision not to invite Betar players to don the national colors. And perhaps the Israel Football Association should rule out using Betar's Teddy Stadium to host national team games.
Until such time as the management, owners and players of Betar Jerusalem take responsibility for changing the odious behavior of the their extremist fans, they should be ostracized, isolated and made to feel like the social pariahs their fans are turning them into.
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