Topics: palestinians

Why Was Top Palestinian Soccer Star Kicked Off National Team?

Not only did Abdallah Jaber lose his position, he’s now facing a smear campaign all for signing with an Israeli club

Abdallah Jaber playing for the Palestinian national team.
EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMONI

Palestinian Arab soccer star Abdallah Jaber (pictured left) from the Galilee town of Taibe will play for the Israeli team Hapoel Hadera next season. But this decision has cost Jaber his place on the Palestinian national team.

Despite being an Israeli citizen from a town firmly within Israel’s borders, Jaber clearly identifies as a “Palestinian,” and has thus far spent his entire professional career playing for Palestinian teams. But now he’s being condemned publicly by the official Palestinian football association. More than that, Palestinians fans who recently cheered enthusiastically for him are now busy smearing Jaber on social media for his “normalization” with Israel.

As an Israeli citizen, Jaber grew up playing in Israeli youth leagues. In 2013, he signed with the Hebron team Ahli Al-Khaleel, which plays in the Palestinian League. He went to play about 50 games for the Palestinian national team, including 13 appearances in world championship qualifiers.

But his career on the international stage appears to have come to an unfortunate end (unless he can and is willing to make the Israeli national team) all because he signed with a team from the hated “Zionist” enemy. Already Jaber was unable to play in some Arab countries because of his Israeli passport. In 2016, he had an opportunity to sign with an Egyptian club, but authorities in Cairo ultimately prevented the team from adding this “Israeli” to its roster.

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