As Yannick Kamanan, Maccabi Herzliya’s black striker, steps out on to the field at Bloomfield Stadium, he appears very tense. The French soccer player had a great season, but now the game is the least of his concerns.
Nothing had prepared him for the horrible treatment he endured at the hands of rival team Maccabi Tel Aviv’s fans.
“Racist chants would greet me from the direction of the Maccabi stands each time I touched the ball,” Kamanan painfully recalls. “At first,
I tried not to pay attention to it. But after a few minutes, it was apparently too much for me, and I broke down.
“I said to myself: ‘I can’t believe that my skin is a problem in this world.’ We all come from the same source. You can be white; you can be yellow; you can be any color. But at the end of the day, we came from the same place. We’re all Adam and Eve’s descendents.
“I think that it’s simply terrible that skin is a problem,” he observes bitterly.
Racist Israeli soccer fans are nothing new. For example, in the early 1990s, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Cameroon-native Cyril Makanaky would routinely be taunted by other teams’ fans. However, most players never dared complain.
But Kamanan decided that the time had come to take a stand. “I knew that if I didn’t speak up, no one would speak up. I couldn’t understand how specifically in Israel, a country where millions of its sons were murdered because they were Jewish, these kinds of things could happen.”…
“It mostly affected me because it happened in Israel. Jews died because of their appearances during the Holocaust. After all, almost every family here had some sort of distant relative that died during the Holocaust, and that’s what I don’t understand.
“How can you make these noises after all you went through? In Europe, it’s different, because there, they don’t have your history. I couldn’t understand how people here don’t respect other people because of their skin color.
“I would like to think that these things will never happen again, but I know that’s not how it’ll be.”…
“To be honest, nothing will change. After all, despite the Maccabi Tel Aviv fans’ apologies, the following week, they played against Hakoah Ramat Gan, where my friend Pappy Kimoto plays. He’s also black, and there were racist chants against him on the field as well.…
“I went to Yad Vashem in order to get to know your state better and to honor your history, what you went through. I placed flowers. If just like I tried to understand you, you would stand in my shoes, you would better understand what it feels like to be a black player here.”
This is the same racism Ethiopian Jews undergo every day. Why does it happen? In Israel, of all places? I want your opinions.
As for me, I think the Ashkenazi attitude of superiority and their mistreatment of Sefardim that grew from that attitude, is the root cause of this racism.
We see this unease with dark skinned Jews in America, as well. Whether it is an Orthodox American university professor (with close ties to Chabad), or the late head of Agudah Moshe Sherer (and also this link), or the late Lubavitcher Rebbe (who, to his credit, was close to and supportive of Sefardim), looking down on darker Jews is the norm. (An exception to this rule was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Another was Rabbi Aron Soleveitchik.)
Anyway, what say you?