Finding 1 ‘Arab’ in Israeli basketball, NY Times espouses Zionist racial theory

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On March 13, The New York Times Sports section ran a long article about an Israeli basketball player under the title, “In Israel, an Arab Chooses Baskets Over Goals.” Karam Mashour of Nazareth plays for the team Bnei Herzliya. Reporter Sam Borden made this claim for him:

In a league full of Israeli Jews, top Europeans and talented Americans, Mashour is the only player of Arab heritage. Perhaps more pointedly, in a country where more than a fifth of the eight million residents are Arab, Mashour is one of only two to play in the top division in more than decade.

This is both inaccurate and obnoxious. The Times is stating baldly that “Arabs” cannot be Jews, when the truth is that many, many Jews are Arabs. They speak Arabic, or they are of Mizrahi heritage, coming from Arab countries. Israeli Mizrahi Jews are said to number about 3 million and are the largest ethnic group in Israel. That’s why Israeli Jewish names often strike American Jews as foreign. Their ancestors have Arab heritage.

The New York Times article’s premise that Arabs cannot be Jews thereby accepts a Zionist definition of Jewish nationality. “Arab” is generally a linguistic/cultural definition: it refers to people who speak Arabic. The article barely mentions Palestinians, but this is the actual distinction at work here: Mashour is a Palestinian, not a Jew.

There are actually many basketball stars of Arab heritage, including Doron Jamchi and Oded Katash. Thanks to our friend Ronnie Barkan for the info; here’s a list of all-time scorers. Many of them are Arab Jews.

Mizrahi basketball stars
Mizrahi basketball stars
Photograph that includes Mizrahi surnamed ballplayer in top scoring stats, standing third from right. Shot appears to show others of Mizrahi background
Photograph that includes Mizrahi surnamed ballplayer in top scoring stats, standing third from right.

The New York Times article only uses the word “Palestinian” twice, to refer to the Palestinian territories– when Palestinians inside Israel prefer to call themselves Palestinians, not Arabs. No, the article accepts the Israeli distinction, between Jews and Arabs:

According to Hagay Segal, a communications official with the Israel Basketball Association, about 10 percent of the 35,000 registered basketball players in the country are Arab.

No one doubts that there are sectarian divisions in the Middle East. But the New York Times is espousing Zionist dogma when it states that Jews cannot be Arabs.


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Well, at least they didn’t (judging by the quotes) trot him out as an example of Israel’s wonderful ethnic diversity and lack of state-sponsored racism. Although he does seem to be somewhat characterized as a “good Arab”, one who doesn’t care about politics.

This assumption is almost universal. And sadly, Mizrahi Jews in Israel mostly seem to adopt it too, with some of them being the most virulent Arab-haters (recall the incidents during Protective Edge). It’s the phenomenon of the disadvantaged punching down at those who are more disadvantaged, the second-raters revelling in… Read more »

Mizrahi Jews are racially Arabs, and were ethnically Arabs for most of their existence prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948. As such, I can never see them as the enemy of Palestinians, because they are practically brothers, even though some may exhibit problematic racist behaviors that were internalized… Read more »

Here are the rules Israel plays by, on/ off the basket ball court . Rule 1: Israelis have the right to play on both sides of the court, but Palestinians can only play on their own side. Rule 2: For security reasons Palestinians do not have the right to pass… Read more »

Great comments cannot disagree with any of them.

They clearly term the natives “Arabs” at all costs