Regev and Anelka: A Meeting of Minds

The populist politician is doing exactly what she rails against: sullying sport with politics.

Itay Meirson
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Itay Meirson

As expected, MK Miri Regev wasted no time in issuing a statement condemning Nicolas Anelka for his “quenelle” gesture on Saturday. On the one hand one wonders why Anelka, a second-generation immigrant, would adopt a gesture often associated with the extreme right. On the other hand: Miri Regev.

Regev is a populist politician. Wherever there is need for a heroine to defend Jewish honor, the former IDF spokesperson shows up, carrying the flag. Demonstrations against immigrants, chants of hatred and rage and burning torches – all these come naturally to Regev.

One can assume Regev didn’t watch the English Premier League game, but was later informed of his gesture. One can assume she never even heard of the French striker, but she was as quick as lightening in calling to “suspend the player for his [Nazi] salute,” and stating that “sports shouldn’t be used for incitement.”

Later in the day Regev was seen at Beitar Jerusalem’s eastern stand at Teddy Stadium, and one must ask: If Regev truly believes that sports shouldn’t be used for incitement, how on earth could she remain indifferent to the anti-Arab chants in the stadium? Not one song, but many; not a few hundred kids, but thousands of fans; not only once, but throughout the whole game; and not only against Arabs in general but also against her Knesset colleague (“Ahmed Tibi’s dead!”)

One more question concerning her call to suspend Anelka that even MKs who use soccer to promote themselves will find hard to answer: If FIFA, the international governing body of world soccer, has announced a policy of zero tolerance concerning politicians intervening in the way soccer is run in their countries, how will FIFA officials react to a parliament member who interferes in the soccer affairs of another country?

Miri Regev, now minister of culture and sport, waving the flag at a women's panel.
Miri Regev, now minister of culture and sport, waving the flag at a women's panel.Credit: Amir Avramovich