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University of Haifa

What passes for academic publication at the University of Haifa:
University of Haifa - Yuval Yonay (Dept of Sociology), anti-Israel Marxist sociologist and expert on "Queer Studies," publishes "academic" article claiming Israel silences its Arab athletes

Israeli media discourse is by and large intolerant towards views that challenge its nationalistic fundamentals. The same discursive rules are evident in the way both the sport media and fans respond to opinions expressed by Arab soccer players. While the talkbackers’ responses tend to be more aggressive and vicious than those of journalists and commentators, the spirit of the two groups studied is similar: both rebuff Palestinian players’ political statements and refuse to sympathize or engage with them in a serious dialogue.

When the Palestinian players dare to make critical statements, a very common response is to draw a strict dividing line between ‘clean’ sports and ‘dirty’ politics, claiming that the former must remain clearly separated from the latter. ... The public discourse puts them back ‘in their place’ and reminds them that they are neither qualified nor have the moral authority to represent the Arab public.

... Summarizing our findings, it is evident that the Arab-Palestinian soccer players who excel on the turf are prevented from serving as a channel to convey the voice of Palestinian citizens in Israel. When they try to fulfil such a role, they are vehemently silenced and sent back to the turf. Paradoxically, the attempts of Arab-Palestinian politicians to carry the same voice are also futile.

'Play and shut up': the silencing of Palestinian athletes in Israeli media

Eran Shor and Yuval Yonay
Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 34 No. 2 February 2011 pp. 229_247


In this paper we contrast two opposing theoretical views in the sociology of sport. The first sees sport as a field that brings together different groups and bridges social divides. In this view, minority sport stars serve both as role models and as a mouthpiece voicing the feelings and needs of their ethnic groups. The opposing view holds that the sport field reflects the tendencies of the larger society, helping to maintain the social dominance of hegemonic groups. In this view sport stars serve mostly as tokens and have no real influence on the social order. Our systematic analysis of Israeli media between the years 2002 and 2007 lends support to the latter view. We show that the expressions and behaviours of Israeli Palestinian soccer players are consistently policed and silenced by the Jewish-dominated media discourse, effectively blocking one of the few channels of expression for the Arab public in Israel.

For more details, see the original article


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