Watch: ESPN documentary exposes Israel’s racist football club

A new and excellent 15-minute documentary by the American cable television network ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, aired last week on ESPN’s award-winning primetime sports show E:60, sheds light on the Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem. Fans of Beitar Jerusalem, a member of Israel’s Premier League and enjoys a large fan base in and around Jerusalem, are well known for their notorious racism and ultra-nationalism.

During and after their football matches, Beitar Jerusalem fans are likely to be chanting chants like “Death to Arabs” as a form of celebration. Earlier in March this year, a mob of Beitar Jerusalem fans attacked Arab shoppers and workers in Jerusalem’s Malha Mall which is next to Teddy Stadium, Beitar Jerusalem’s home stadium. This football club in specific has never had any Arab player on its ranks and, judging from ESPN’s report, doesn’t seem intent to enlist any player of non-Jewish origin.

Two Palestinian citizens of Israel who play on Israeli teams describe to ESPN the racism and violence they are subjected to by Beitar fans. Alaa Abu Saleh, who plays for Bnei Sakhnin, says “It’s like war.” ESPN’s footage includes video of Beitar fans who have a special chant for footballer Salim Tuama:

This is the Jewish state!

This is Israel, Salim Tuama!

I hate all the Arabs!

I hate you Salim Tuama!

I hate all the Arabs!

The documentary, which opens with a disclaimer warning viewers of disturbing content, also shows small children chanting “Death to the Arabs!” after a Beitar practice.




This is sickening. We are living in the 21st century, this type of treatment deserves strong condemnation by the rest of the world. Israel needs to be accounted for this as well as its injustices with the treatment of Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank.


There's a bit more to the conflict than the lack of Arab players on the team. Ayman Fadel's caveats on his blog are well put.

Nonetheless, this is remarkable for American sports journalism and worth supporting.


"We don't hate them because they are arabs, we hate them because they want to kill us."
As a Jew when I meet an arab, a feeling comes over me: "Will this person hate me once they find out I'm Jewish?"
Jews have had to fight for their survival in their young history five wars against arabs. Can you blame them when this is how they think?
When Arabs show clear and concrete acceptance of the Jewish state and respect for Jewish people, then I think Jews will begin to drop their fear of the Arabs, but that is a long long time away, I'm afraid not in our lifetime.
Racism isn't right.. but I can understand and Arabs should not be surprised because it is hypocricy to show an isolated club in Israel when in Middle East for arabs it is the norm to hate Jews and to chant death to Israel.

Jalal Abukhater

Jalal Abukhater's picture

Jalal Abukhater is a Jerusalemite, he is a graduate MA(hons) International Relations and Politics from the University of Dundee, Scotland.