Thursday, May 27, 2004

Brother's Keeper, Part IV: Little Platoons

Inigo Gilmore, "Arab team wins Israel's 'FA Cup' for first time to secure place in Europe,", 23 May 2004.[A]n unfancied team from Galilee stunned Israeli football last week by becoming the first Arab club to qualify for Europe.
For the residents of Sakhnin...the victory - the first in the State Cup by an Arab team since Israel was founded in 1948 - is a source of local pride, and a filip for the 1.2 million Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship but have long seen themselves as second class citizens.

In addition to the team captain, Abbas Suan, 13 other members of the Sakhnin squad are Arab Israelis. The club also boasts seven Jewish and four foreign players, from Poland, Cameroon, Brazil and Ghana.

Nidal Shalata, 29, a defender who was born in Sakhnin and has played for the team for the past 10 years, said: "Our team is comprised of Arabs, Jews and foreigners but we're one family. To tell you the truth though, it would have been even sweeter if an Arab player had scored the winning goals."

After the win, euphoria swept through Arab communities with thousands of fans converging on Sakhnin, playing loud music, letting off fireworks, singing and dancing.

Yet the victory was also hailed as a bridge between Arab and Jewish Israelis. One of Sakhnin's Jewish strikers, Lior Asulin, scored twice and ran over to hail the support of the Arab fans.

"This was a historic day," said Abu Saleh, a club official. "The Arab leaders should come to Sakhnin and see how Jews and Muslims live together, drink and eat together and play together. We always talk about the disasters that have been inflicted on us, but this is a victory for Sakhnin and for peace."
via normblog and Harry's Place, which titled its post "Mazal Tov to Sakhnin". To be fair, shouldn't Gene also have wished Sakhnin a hearty alhamdulillah?