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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ankara: Terror on the basketball court

With Turkish President Erdogan blasting Israel for its defensive actions in Gaza, it's not too surprising that the crowd at a basketball team in Ankara would be hostile to the visiting Bnei HaSharon team from Israel. But what went on in the Turkish stadium last night makes the Pistons and the Pacers look like a walk in the park. Let's go to a raw videotape and then I'll have the story behind it.

But first, if you haven't voted in the last 24 hours, please vote for this blog, Israel Matzav, as Best Midsize blog in the 2008 Weblog Awards by going here.

Here's the story behind what went on last night.
Moments before the tip-off of the Israeli team's Eurocup encounter against Turk Telekom some 3,000 Turkish fans shouted 'Allah Akbar' and, by some accounts, 'death to the Jews' in protest against the IDF's actions in Gaza.

Other fans threw bottles at the Israeli players and stormed the court, forcing the Israelis to flee for the dressing rooms.

The players and staff were only able to leave for their hotel thanks to a massive police escort after being stranded for two long hours in the locker room.

Bnei Hasharon chairman Eldad Akunis described the terrifying moments.

"We arrived at the arena under heavy security. There were 1,500 policemen in the arena, 500 of them in plain clothes. The fans waved Palestinian flags and shouted abuse towards Israel," Akunis said.

"As the game was set to begin they stormed the court and we raced towards the dressing rooms. Our players are in shock and all we want at the moment is to return back home."

Team captain Meir Tapiro said only the police's intervention prevented the players from being attacked.

"The fans raced on to the court and ran towards us like madmen, but the police stopped them. It was really scary," he said.
Now if this had happened in the NBA, the home team would have forfeited the game for failing to supply security. But not in the crazy world of European basketball and not when the visiting team is Israeli.
Amazingly, the game referee demanded that Bnei Hasharon play after all the supporters were cleared from the arena, but the team refused and is set to receive a technical loss.

"After a delay due to on-court disturbances before the game, the Turk Telekom vs Bnei Hasharon game was not played due to Bnei´s refusal to play despite clearing the arena of fans," a ULEB press release read.

"The situation will be reviewed by the disciplinary judge to give the final ruling. Under league rules the refusal to play a game by a team can be sanctioned and the game can be given to the opposing team 20-0."

Earlier, a pro-Islamic group earlier set an Israeli flag on fire outside the arena.
Israel Radio has just reported that the team is back in Israel. They said that the team 'encountered protests' at last night's game. They were not more specific.

The foreign ministry ought to deal harshly with Turkey. Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis (it's less than a 2-hour flight and things are much cheaper there than in Israel). The Turks make a huge amount of money every year off visiting Israelis (whose visits are - of course - not reciprocated) who arrive on both commercial and charter flights. Maybe it's time that we take our tourism elsewhere.

By the way, the good news is that the basketball federation has ordered the Greek team Olympia Larissa to show up in Jerusalem on Wednesday night for its game with HaPoel Jerusalem. The Greek team is claiming that it's not safe to travel to Jerusalem because of what's going on in Gaza - about two hours from here by car. Something tells me that there won't be a riot at Malha Stadium tonight.

Maybe they should play in Ashkelon?


At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical behavior in an EU country.

Oh.... not yet.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Oh yes, Shy Guy. Hatred of Jews throughout the EU is widespread. Why are people surprised when it shows up in Turkey?

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I simply meant that Turkey sounds no different than other EU countries, even though it has not yet be accepted into the EU.

Maybe this was a qualification test.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Jez said...

Come on, Turkey is mostly well known not for its European links but for being an Islamic Middle Eastern country, and the attempt to collapse it with Europe specifically in reference to this ugly protest, no matter that Europe's Islamic population has increased to maybe 5% and despite Turkey's status as an EU applicant, is pretty outrageous.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its pretty outrageous in view of Turkey's Ataturkic secularism and friendliness towards Israel. Now that its run by an Islamist government, that attitude is changing.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Şoreşger said...

I was in the protest but I am not an anti-semitist. Open your eyes, you know very well why your team is protested. but you used to believe that every israel protest must mean anti-semitism.

Your "defensive" actions killed hundereds of Gazans and your airforce killing 251 childeren, you are bombing even schools but when someone wants to criticize your geneocidal actions your ansver has already been ready: "you anti-jew"

Believe me I have many jewish friends in my town. Those "anti-semitist" also criticize you...

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Şoreşger said...

and I advise you not to believe those shitty news... No one shouts "death to jews" instead "killer Israel" we said...
"defensive actions in gaza": completely bullshit.....!!!!!!!

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

ornekali, if a huge mob of people shouting racist epithets at a visiting basketball team, preventing them from playing, and having to be prevented from attacking them by a trained police force, is not anti-semitism, then what, in your opinion, IS anti-semitism, you moron?

why jews even put themselves in such danger by traveling to islamic countries is beyond me. statistics may show that jews are smarter than average, but their basic common sense never seems to reflect it...

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Come spend a week in Sderot and then let me know if you still feel it isn't a defensive action.


Turkey is actually the most popular vacation destination for Israelis, although they go mostly to Antalya and then to Istanbul.


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