For the second time in six months, an Arab soccer team is holding a ceremony in honor of ex-MK Azmi Bishara, founder of the Balad party, who escaped from Israel after the Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shin Bet) discovered that he had advised Hezbollah on where to bomb Israel during the Second Lebanon War.
This time the team honoring Bishara is Ahi Nazareth, which will play Maccabee Tel Aviv in the National League Semifinals Wednesday evening, in Jerusalem. As part of the preparations for the game, the team from Nazareth will hold a special ceremony in honor of Bishara, at the Ambassador Hotel.
The team's Jewish players said they will boycott the ceremony.
The ceremony is a continuation of the honors the team is paying to its sponsor, the Emir of Qatar, who has also supported Bishara.
In October, another Arab team, Bani Sakhnin, honored Bishara, who supports the team. The event was viewed as a provocation and the team was slapped on the wrist by the Israel Soccer Federation, which fined it 15,000 shekels.
Ahi Nazareth told Ynet that it decided to conduct the ceremony inside a hotel “so as not to stir things up like what happened with Bani Sakhnin.” Bishara will be awarded an honorary plaque in absentia.
Nationalist Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir said that he intends to demand a tough response from the Israel Football Association (ISA) but does not have high hopes in the matter.
It is time for the ISA “to wake up,” he told Arutz Sheva. “If it does not awake, we will discover that we live in a surreal world, in which a team that plays in the Israeli league, receives benefits and plays on behalf of the country, carries out a surreal ceremony in which it supports a terrorist, a man who directed missiles on Israel.”
The ceremony, he said, is “a poke in the eye of every Israeli. These are not innocent ceremonies. They make a statement. I have gone to Teddy Stadium with my friends Baruch Marzel, Dr. Michael Ben Ari and Bentzi Gopshtain and I can tell you that in the bleachers there are thousands who shout 'slaughter the Jews', wave PLO flags and promise blood and fire.”
In the face of all this, he noted, the IFA does nothing – and so does the State Attorney's Office. “There is a criminal aspect to this and I want to know – where is the State Attorney's Office, which is quick to file charges against Jewish kids in Judea and Samaria? Why are they silent in the face of this incitement?”
While there, Channel 2 reported, the three met with Bishara. A Balad statement announced the trip to Qatar was for media purposes, and hinted that Bishara was present in the meetings.