New political heavyweight Yair Lapid shares the anti-Arab ideology of the fans of Jerusalem’s Beitar soccer team, Meretz head Zehava Gal-on charged on Monday.
The attack on the Yesh Atid head came two days after fans of the team, known for their nationalist views, were lambasted for chanting anti-Arab slogans ahead of the expected acquisition of two Chechen players, who would be the first Muslims to ever join the team
Gal-on lamented the tide of “serious racism” apparent recently in Israel, mentioning last week’s report that border policemen abused a mentally ill Palestinian man, and a weekend incident at the Beitar Jerusalem soccer game against Bnei Yehuda, which ended with three fans arrested.
The Meretz head said that she was “appalled, but hardly surprised” at the events.
“Racism has long since become everyday. So everyday that we hardly notice it, everywhere,” she said. “So everyday that it just seems natural that Yair Lapid, who was elected to represent a huge portion of the public, rules out in advance the Arab parties as [coalition] partners.”
Lapid, whose freshman Yesh Atid party won a surprising 19 seats in the January 22 election, is expected to have a key role in a centrist coalition government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Yisrael Beytenu faction.
Lapid elicited criticism late last week when, in ruling out sitting either in a coalition or in the opposition with anti-Zionist Arab parties, he asserted that he wouldn’t cooperate with “the Zoabis.” The statement was a reference to MK Hanin Zoabi of the predominantly Arab Balad party, a controversial figure who has been singled out by right-wing parties for censure due to her participation in the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident.
“The distance between Lapid’s refusal to be on the same side as an Arab player in the political game and the refusal of Beitar fans to have an Arab player on their team is very small,” Gal-on said. “In the coming years, we need to fight for real equality, democracy and for the eradication of racism in our everyday life.”