Youssouf Kamso Mara is a Muslim soccer player from Guinea. Two weeks ago, he came to Israel and joined the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team. “There’s a big stadium and wonderful fans here,” he said on arriving. On Monday, at a game against Hapoel Tel Aviv in Bloomfield Stadium, he realized that not all the fans are wonderful.
During halftime, when Mara began warming up, some of Beitar’s fans began cheering and applauding him. This gesture toward a Muslim player didn’t please members of the La Familia organization, who consider the rules to be clear – it’s forbidden to cheer for a Muslim player, or even to cheer for the team if a Muslim player is on the field.
Fans who refused to obey La Familia’s racist code paid a heavy price for it. Some of them needed treatment at a hospital. La Familia members broke one fan’s ribs, another’s tooth and a third’s nose. A female fan on crutches was thrown to the ground and beaten because she wouldn’t cooperate with the ban on cheering.
This space is too small for a complete survey of La Familia’s acts of violence, racism and nationalism. This organization – which, during May’s fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, sought to vent its anger on Arab citizens of Israel and leftists – is responsible for attacking one fan of Hapoel Tel Aviv with an ax, assaulting cleaners at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, assaulting Arab workers at the capital’s Malha Mall and torching the souvenir room at Beitar Jerusalem’s training complex because it included autographs from Muslim players. It has a habit of proudly brandishing signs at the stadium with slogans like “Beitar, forever pure” and “the country’s racist team.” And that’s just a partial list.
What happened at Bloomfield was simply one more act in the reign of terror the organization imposes on everyone around it. Beitar Jerusalem fans said “they kicked people who were lying on the ground, used fists, trod on their heads,” “broke a combat soldier’s face and sent my sister, a 23-year-old girl, to the hospital” and offered other, similar descriptions of a pogrom that took place before the eyes of thousands of people in the stands and while hundreds of thousands were watching the game on television.
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The police deserve praise for deciding to open an investigation even though no complaint was filed over this behavior (apparently due to fear of La Familia’s vengeance). But as the club’s owner, Moshe Hogeg, said Tuesday, “If the authorities don’t wake up, a commission of inquiry will be set up in the not-so-distant future. Read the writing on the wall.”
The writing on the wall is murder. And to prevent it, neither a police investigation nor “wall-to-wall” condemnations will suffice. La Familia’s ideology is racist and inflammatory, and the way the organization implements it is through terror. La Familia should be forcibly dismantled. Not only must it be ousted from soccer fields, but it must be outlawed as well.