- A young Palestinian citizen of Israel posted a selfie of him wearing his Israel football shirt
- Many Arabs were angry that the teen was proud to represent "the Zionist entity"
- He received hundreds of insults from across the Middle East
- Mamoon Qashoa is one of a long line of Palestinian citizens of Israel to play for Israel
Over the weekend, one teenager’s selfie has sparked debate from Tunisia to the Gulf.
On Thursday, 19-year-old Mamoon Qashoa shared a photo of himself wearing the Israeli football shirt to his Facebook page.
He captioned the post in Arabic, writing: “my success comes only through God.”
The young Palestinian citizen of Israel had recently joined the under-19s national side, despite having previously promised to represent Palestine, according to media reports.
Qashoa, who is from the Arab-majority town of Tira in central Israel, also signed to play for Israeli club Hapoel Haifa over the summer.
His post soon went viral as individuals from across the Arab world slammed what they saw as a “Palestinian playing for the Zionist entity”.
Many of the nearly 2,000 comments on the original post are insults, while others accused him of betraying his homeland.
Have you forgotten Muhammad al-Durrah and the martyrs of your country, you traitor?
Muhammad al-Durrah was a 12-year-old killed by Israeli gunfire on the second day of the Second Intifada in Gaza.
Have you sold your country? Sold your land, your honor and your dignity.
Meanwhile, on Twitter many quickly picked up on the story.
@AbdoZaid99 tweeted: “The traitor: Mamoon Qashoa from the occupied town of Tira is proud of his participation in the national youth team of the Israeli occupation, to take part on the 2019 championships.”
An Egyptian in Kuwait, @Om_3MK, wrote: “Mamoun Qashoa from Palestinian lands and he promised Palestinian fans to represent their national team. In the end he chose to represent the enemy's team. Here lies treason to the homeland.”
A tweet from @motasem_alabady in Jordan added: “Mamoon Qashoa of Palestinian origin and identity chooses to represent the Zionist entity and will play against Ireland. He says: my success comes only through God. Here is the betrayal of the homeland.”
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Despite the controversy around his choice of national team, Qashoa is by no means the first Arab to represent Israel in football. The Arabic-language Korabia website listed nearly 30 “examples” of similar cases in a piece on Friday.
Among them, Zahi Armeli, who played for Israel as early as the 80s.
The outrage still garnered by such sportspeople is an indication of the difficult line Palestinian citizens of Israel walk. While feeling strong affinity with Palestine and fellow Palestinians, many young Arabs in Israel nonetheless have a parallel sense of Israeli national identity.
This places them in a difficult position as the majority of Arabs in the Middle East continue to oppose Israel’s very existence. At the same time, Palestinian citizens of Israel often face discrimination at an official level, including experiencing resistance from Jewish Israelis to their participation in national sport.
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