A prominent Israeli soccer commentator is being investigated by the Israel Broadcasting Authority on charges of having made off-camera racist remarks.
Danny Neuman, a former player for Betar Jerusalem, which has close ties, to Israel’s right wing and counts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu and other senior Israeli officials among its supporters, is accused of advocating the expulsion of left-wing fans of Betar rival Hapoel Tel Aviv and Israel’s Palestinian population. Hapoel is associated with Israel’s labour movement.
Neuman, a commentator for Israel’s Channel One, made his comments just before he this week commented on a match between Hapoel and Kiryat Shmone FC, according to Maariv newspaper.
Segments of Israel’s right-wing, including members of Netanjahu’s cabinet, favour resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and preserving the Jewish nature of Israel, by expelling the country’s Palestinian population.
Neuman, according to Maariv, charged that Hapoel fans were leftists and that if he was in power he would ‘transfer’ them – Israeli political parlance for expulsion – together with the Palestinian population.
“After all, Hapoel Tel Aviv is the team with the largest number of Arab fans,” Maariv quoted Neuman as saying.
Neuman, who has never hidden his political views but in the past expressed them in more circumspect language, was reported to have made his blunt comment in the presence of colleagues.
Maariv said that Neuman recognized his faux pas by the end of the Hapoel Tel Aviv – Kiryat Shmone match and denied making the remarks.
He suggested that he had been deliberately misquoted by Hapoel supporters. “The Hapoel
Tel Aviv fans hate me from the days when I used to play for Betar, so why shouldn’t I hate them?” Maariv quoted Neuman as saying.
The paper said Neuman also asserted that he had not advocated expulsion of Palestinians but had noted that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman favoured transfer and that in Israel all views should be respected.
Israeli peace activists are demanding that the Israel Broadcasting Authority fire Neuman.