Freedom of speech and Israeli soccer

The Israeli Football Association on Thursday banned fans of Beitar Jerusalem from two home matches after they booed through a minute’s silence in memory of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“This was an outburst of a large number, hundreds, of Beitar fans in the stands on an issue that is considered a national consensus and an affront to our existence as a democracy,” the IFA said in a statement. The IFA also slapped the Israeli champions with a suspended punishment of two additional matches without a crowd.

Before kick-off in Sunday’s match against Maccabi Haifa, more than 2,500 Beitar fans refused to observe the silence, called in honour of Rabin and also to protest against violence in Israeli society and at sports stadiums.

This is utterly ridiculous. Why should people be expected to honor someone they have reason to regard as a traitor to their country? Obviously it’s not a “national consensus” or thousands of people would not have been loudly expressing their opinion on the matter.

One would think that this sort of thought-policing behavior in Jerusalem would concern Jews far more than Ann Coulter response to theological questions.

And if speaking your mind in public is truly “an affront to Israel’s existence as a democracy”, it’s pretty clear that Israeli democracy’s days are numbered.