The brother of an Arab Israeli player in Israel’s national soccer team has come to his defense as he continues to face fan outrage for comments he made on Jewish-Arab relations months ago.
Moanes Dabour, a top player in the national team, was booed and cursed by some fans during Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria. Israel went on to win the game 5-2, with one of the goals scored by Dabbur.
His brother Farnas told Sport 5 TV on Sunday that Dabour “did not intend to hurt anyone” with a May Facebook post in which he railed against Israeli “wrongdoers” in Jerusalem during unrest there.
“Moanes did not harm anyone and would never harm anyone,” Farnas Dabour said. “I won’t go into it, but one thing is certain — his post was misunderstood.”
Dabour has come under harsh criticism by Jewish fans of the team due to a controversial Facebook post from May, just before the outbreak of 11 days of fighting with Hamas in Gaza and intense Jewish-Arab violence in mixed cities.
That violence was preceded by repeated clashes in Jerusalem between Muslim Arabs and Israeli security forces, particularly surrounding the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and plans by right-wing Jews to carry out the annual Jerusalem Day march through the Old City, seen by many Arabs asa provocation.
On May 8, two days before Hamas launched rockets at Jerusalem and caused a major escalation of the conflict, and following clashes on the Temple Mount during the Muslim Laylat al-Qadr festival, Dabour uploaded the Facebook post that got him in hot water. It included a picture of the Dome of the Rock, the more recognizable gold-plated Islamic monument located near Al-Aqsa, alongside a quote from the Quran: “Do not think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He is only granting them respite until a day when their eyes will stare in horror.”
The word “wrongdoers” is also translatable as “oppressors.” This was how the quote was widely reported in Hebrew media, and some Jewish Israelis took the post to mean that Dabour viewed Israel as an oppressor, with many lambasting the athlete for ostensibly undermining the nation he represents.
איך אתה מפרש את הטקסט שכתב "אלוהים רואה את מעשי העושקים"? מי הם העושקים, מה נעשק ומה המעשים אליהם התכוון דאבור? pic.twitter.com/9eMHViPckT
— Oroku Saki (@_oroku_saki) September 5, 2021
Dabour later said that his post “expressed pain and had nothing to do with politics.” He said he was “expressing my protest and anger for the egregious use of force toward women and the elderly, who had only come to pray on our holiest day of the year. One of them was a relative of mine who went to pray and came back injured.”
He said he had Jewish friends who “are my brothers” and that he dreamed “of a society in which everyone respects one another.”
However, some have refused to accept the player’s explanation, saying his post only served to inflame the situation in Jerusalem amid heightened tensions.
The scandal led to Dabour being kept out of national team activities for several months, but he was brought back in August.