An Open Letter to Football Legend Fernando Hierro

So rumour has it that the Spanish branch of BDS is fuming. Again. After their failed campaign to prevent Mattisyahu from taking part in Rototom music festival last summer, the Bullshit, Disgusting and Screwed up movement has a new prey: Spanish football legend Fernando Hierro. 

The recent news that the Israeli Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has invited Hierro, the former captain of Real Madrid of the Spanish national team, and winner of four World Cups and two European Championships, to become the coordinator of the National project of football, seems to have sent shivers down their antisemitic spines. And as usual, and in true mafia style, a letter full of lies and pressure has followed.

Given Europe’s extremely worrying levels of antisemitism and the media´s telling silence regarding the wave of stabbings, car rammings and attacks that Israel has been suffering since last Rosh Hashana, it is crucial to clear up their fallacies. 

This is why I would like to share ACOM´s (Association and Communication in the Middle East) brilliant response to BDS threats. What follows is a version in English, which I have had the enormous honor to translate from Spanish. Please share and help spread the truth. Also, let´s persuade Hierro – FFS it´s time for Israeli football to improve!


Dear Fernando,

It is through the press that we have learned of your recent decision to embark on a new professional adventure in Israel. As Spain’s best example of sporting excellence and the values of effort, solidarity and talent, we would like to congratulate you and wish you every success in this new journey that you will soon be starting in Israel – a sister nation with a vibrant and diverse society.

We have also learned of the pressure that, together with coercion and threats and in true mafia style, some intolerant individuals are trying to exert on your employment decision. Your personality, demonstrated by your unblemished trajectory inside and outside the stadium, makes us feel confident that you will not yield to sectarian and violent blackmail.

We are confident that the many Spanish football coaches and players working and having worked in Israel, must have told you about their experiences in a country that in many ways will remind you of your homeland. Nevertheless, you do need to know certain facts about Israel. Indeed, no matter how hard anti-Semites might seek to mask these facts with vile lies and to target those who refuse to share their goals, the truth will prevail.

1) In the letter written by BSD Judeophobes there was mention of two young Palestinians football players who were allegedly killed by Israel in 2014.

This is an allusion to Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, who were allegedly shot by Israeli soldiers as they walked home after a workout at the stadium “Faisal al-Husseini Stadium” in al-Ram.

In fact, both players were members of the DFLP, and its military wing, the National Resistance Brigades. These “players” were members of a terrorist group responsible for, among other attacks, the slaughter of a school in Ma’alot where 27 pupils and teachers were murdered.

An article clearing up this fallacy and showing photos of both “players” posing fully armed, can be found on this link.

Being an amateur footballer does not exempt one from complying with the law, nor does it constitute a sort of papal bull to commit terrorist acts. Ignoring these facts can only seek to mislead public opinion. Indeed, they are using the same propaganda tricks that we, Spanish citizens, have sadly seen our own terrorists try to pull so many times.

Fernando, in any case, there is no need to worry: both “players” and part-time terrorists are still alive and kicking. Apparently, they only had minor injuries after clashes with security forces. Their violent Spanish allies love making up stories and giving in to their worst instincts.

2) There is no such thing as a “wave of repression” against Palestinians that has been taking place since October 2015. What Israel is carrying out is an anti-terror campaign and a legitimate response to protect its citizens. Any democratic country fulfilling its role as guarantor of the rule of law would be expected to act in this manner. Jerusalem or Tel Aviv are no more unsafe than other European capitals, but they do suffer from the same Islamist terrorism that struck Madrid, London, or recently, Paris. For months, Israel has been suffering indiscriminate attacks on civilians, children, and elderly, at the hands of terrorists who, like the members of the Islamic State, stab and behead their victims. Those who criticize you for working in a democratic country would like to see these murderers act with impunity and not be legitimately pursued.

3) Israel is not exterminating the Palestinian people. In fact, if this was their intention, Israelis would be an embarrassment to exterminators given that the Arab population, both in Gaza and in the West Bank has grown from one million in 1970 to four million today! In addition, 20% of Israel’s population, 1.7 million citizens are Arabs and its population is growing faster than the national average.

In fact, the Jewish state is the only one in the Middle East in which Arabs enjoy full democratic rights equivalent to those enjoyed in Spain. Therefore, according to all polls, Israeli Arabs are not willing to give up their citizenship in favour of a potential Palestinian passport. Israel also protects other minorities like the Yazidis, the Bedouins and Druzes, and is the only Middle Eastern country where Christians are safe and can exercise their faith freely. Indeed, it is the only country in the region where the Christian population is actually increasing.

In short, Fernando, besides poisoning public opinion with their lies, what these hardliners intend to do is to restrict your freedom by pushing and shoving.

Those of us who have seen you play football know how wrong they are if they think that you can be easily intimidated.



About the Author
Born in Spain, Mazal Oaknin established herself in London in 2007, where she teaches at University College London. Since then, her head has been bubbling with stories, ideas and jokes, and she can't wait to get them off her chest on this blog.
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