Jerusalem-based Beitar is the last Jewish-only team in Israeli soccer, and fans are determined to keep it that way. When word got out this weekend that the controversial team owner had recruited the two players, fans unfurled a banner, “Beitar pure forever” – just as the world was promoting anti-racism efforts on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
While Beitar is an anomaly in Israel, and a small core of virulent fans get outsized attention, the public display of hatred and discrimination illustrates a deep societal divide. Though many Jewish-Arab programs have worked hard to promote coexistence in various segments of society, they are struggling to have a broader impact, especially since the collapse of the peace process and the rise of right-wing parties such as Yisrael Beytenu.
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