Silence is filth

August 5, 2015 by Asher Kozma
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The recent treatment of Indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes is an unfortunate reminder of how we as humans can band together in nastiness against those who are different.

Asher Kozma

Asher Kozma

Whether everyone booing has racist motives or not, it is clear the issue stems from racial tensions within our society. Of course, Indigenous Australians are not alone in their exposure to discrimination, any sports minded Israeli ought to be familiar with the Goodes situation as the Israeli Premier League has seen similar behaviour.

Two years ago I spent 10 months in Israel on Betar’s shnat hachshara program. A few weeks after our arrival we were told that we were going to a Beitar Jerusalem training session to show our support for two Muslim Chechen players, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, who had just been signed by the club. Beitar Jerusalem is the soccer club with the largest membership in Israel and a portion of their fans most fiercely disapprove of Arab or Muslim participation in their beloved and until then Jewish only team.

Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes

As a group of Australians who had just arrived in the country, we didn’t fully comprehend why we had gone to the training session or what the situation was until we went to watch a match. We went to Beitar versus Bnei Sakhnin, the latter being the larger of the two Arab teams in the league. I was appalled and embarrassed to share the name Betar with the fans who not only booed and hissed every time the muslim players touched the ball, but also employed overtly racist chants and banners. The theme of their commotion was to keep the side “Muslim free” or “pure”. This kind of shameless torment is unfortunately fixed into the lives of minority groups in Israel, and in my opinion is one of Israeli society’s biggest frailties.

By no means were all the Beitar supporters behaving in this racist and elitist manner. There were some who tried to support and cheer the new additions to the squad, however as has been the case at Sydney Swans games the loud voice of hatred prevailed. The irony is that Betar was founded by Jewish liberal thinker Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who encouraged participants of Betar and Jewish citizens of Israel to accept minority groups and treat them as equals – “every man is a king… the essence of your or my royalty is that there cannot be anyone above you or me in dignity and status”. Certain Beitar fans seem to have forgotten the origin of their club.

As a nation who has suffered the perils of being a minority for thousands of years and believe so strongly in our right to land we have historical ties to, Jewish Australians are obligated to show Adam Goodes and Indigenous Australians our support and sympathy. When you’re at the footy let any racists know they’re doing the wrong thing, don’t stand silent for as we say in Betar: “silence is filth”.

Asher Kozma is Mefaked (director) of Betar Melbourne

Editor’s note:

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council’s Executive Director Colin Rubenstein said: “The booing of Adam Goodes which appears in part to be racially motivated, is entirely unacceptable. Adam Goodes is not only a great footballer but an outstanding Australian who proudly advocates for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people. We are heartened to see the public support he is increasingly receiving and now look forward to see him welcomed back on the playing field . Adam Goodes should be applauded for his good works both on and off the field, and we hope that the public discussion on this issue will promote positive initiatives in and outside of the sporting arena to stamp out racism.

As Adam Goodes said in his Australian of the year speech last year:

‘… the real reward is when everyone is talking to their mates, to their families and their children, having those conversations and educating others about racism. What it looks like, how hurtful and how pointless it is and how we can eliminate it. The ultimate reward is when all Australians see each other as equals and treat each other as equals.’”


7 Responses to “Silence is filth”
  1. Avi michaeli says:

    These are exactly the true values of Beta!
    Hadar is the of how humans should treat each other.
    Asher thank you for showing the pretty face of our community.

  2. Ortal Dary says:

    Asher, kol hakavod for addressing this matter. The racists can spread hate only if we allow them by being silent. Speaking out creates a clear message- we do not accept this behavior.
    Tel Hai!

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Drue McLaughlin,
    No doubt the New Zealanders performing the Haka would direct it at the crowd if the crowd attempted, by constant booing that departed from the norm, to bully them. Perhaps the Australian crowd are more intimidated by the Haka than Adam Goodes’ ‘war dance’! The fact is, Adam Goodes, with his ‘dance’, was merely saying, ‘you want to bring it on? Okay, here I am, this is me … bring it on!’ He found the crowd’s behaviour unacceptable. You don’t have to be Freud, or Elias Canetti with his treatise on the dynamics of crowds, how they form mobs and manipulate power, to be able to see clearly how each week the mob booing gathered momentum to become bullying.Perhaps it’s you who needs to be smarter.

    Adam Goodes is right to stand up for himself. And he was right to single out the 13 year old girl who insulted him. She got her views from somewhere and she perpetuated them. She is not too young to learn that it is wrong. All the claptrap that has been talked about this, to excuse it, to avoid the source of the problem, or assume there simply isn’t a problem … that’s the load of crap.

    If you know that there are 70 aboriginal players in the AFL, you would most probably also know that there have been aboriginal players before Adam Goodes, taunted by the crowd due to their aboriginality. Not all those booing Adam would have meant it racially, however crowd mentality being as it is, more and more joined in with those who were, until the act of booing became something other than just booing at the football for a perceived injustice by umpire or player. Some of it was racist and some of it was the unrelenting harassment of another human being. In both cases it’s unacceptable.

  4. Dan Lewis says:

    Sorry, I don’t understand how you can possibly argue “whether everyone booing has racist motives or not, it is clear the issue stems from racial tensions within our society.”

    Something is either racist, or it is not. You cannot have a bet each way.

  5. Liat Nagar says:

    The ugliness endemic in crowd mentality when allowed to snowball was evident in the Australian football fans’ treatment of Adam Goodes. From where it started, it grew to bullying. Bullying is rife in Australian schools and the workplace, now we have it in a sporting arena. It’s interesting that Australian crowds don’t object to the New Zealand Haka war dance performed by players, and yet had such a problem with Adam’s dance. Perhaps it was a shock to white Australians to be challenged by an aboriginal person. It’s white Australians who waged war anyway, over 200 years ago. This is not something to the fore of our consciousness while we assume our rights.

    • Drue Mc Laughlin says:

      load of crap…The Haka(which I find personally aggressive and violent in intention),is aimed at the opposite team. Sadly Goodes took his war dance and aimed it directly at the crowd..he was given a response.There are 70 indigenous players in the AFL..they are not booed or racially taunted but are received as every other player and respected…Adam needs to be a bit smarter!

  6. Henry Herzog says:

    So Good to see Jewish community members standing by Adam Goodes. Racism effects as all. When an Aboriginal football player gets racially abused because he stands up against racism and demonstrates pride in his own culture and heritage, it effects all minority groups. But especially since the Aborigines, who’s homes and lands the Europeans stole. And they also stole their children and caused them many hardships, including attempts at genocide. Goodey, you’re a hero and your “war dance” is absolutely awesome.

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