Hanin Nasser is an Israeli high-jump champion. She is currently representing the Jewish state at the U23 European Championships, and for that she has been labeled a traitor by some fellow Arabs.
Among her most vocal critics are members of an Arab youth organization based in Haifa, which has accused Nasser, who is Muslim, of betraying the “Palestinian people,” and which petitioned to keep her from competing this weekend.
On the group’s Facebook page, it urged Nasser to reconsider her participation in the European championship as a representative of Israel. They claimed that Nasser would be making herself a tool of the Zionists, and be exploited to whitewash what they and other Palestinian apologists called Israel’s “institutionalized racism.”
After the group failed to contact Nasser personally, they issued a public letter that was later picked up by the Israeli news portal Makor Rishon. It read:
“We have received information that you intend to represent Israel in an international sporting event in the coming days. While we are proud of you as an athlete, we are nevertheless shocked that you would represent the occupation regime, and we hope that you will reconsider so that the occupation regime is denied an opportunity to exploit your talents to improve its image.”
Those opposed to her competing this weekend tried to offer Nasser incentives to spurn her Israeli identity:
“Please reconsider, dear Hanin, before you are presented as an ‘Israeli athlete’ who supports a colonialist system that builds tall cement walls to separate us as a Palestinian people in this occupied land. In return, if you choose not to participate, we are ready to assist you in your athletic career and do everything possible to fulfill both your and our dream.”
The Facebook posts were discovered by the Israeli organization Im Tirzu, which insisted that the Arab group had crossed a red line with its subtle threats against an Israeli athlete, and called for legal action. “Youth organizations should spread the message of coexistence, but instead they spout empty slogans for separation, hatred and boycott,” read the Im Tirzu response.
The Israeli Athletic Association said in response that there was no room for politics in sport, which it called “a platform for uniting and bringing people together. We are proud of Hanin and happy that she represents us abroad, and wish her much success at the championships.”
The group “Together – Vouch for Each Other”–which exists to connect the Arab sector to Israeli Jewish society and consists of Muslim, Christian and Druze youth–has published a photo in which it expressed unwavering support for Hanin Nasser as a representative of Israel this weekend.
We can only agree with Together’s message, and wish Hanin much success, and the courage to continue standing strong in the face of intimidation and threats from those who don’t want to see Jews and Arabs live in peaceful coexistence.