One of those writers was Dave Zirin of The Nation.
Even though he, and The Nation, were repeatedly contacted about the overwhelming proof that their reporting was completely wrong, there was never any response.
Three days before I published Bob's expose, Zirin published a much longer piece trying to make his earlier lies look like a consistent, long standing policy of Israel against Palestinian Arab football, using older examples. Zirin's newer piece defends his earlier reporting by disparaging those who doubted him.
I expected to get the typical barrage of hate mail from the usual suspects: the darkest corners of the Internet that believe on principle that Palestinian life is cheap if not entirely without value. At most, these e-mails are as nettlesome as spam.
The part of the response that was truly jarring however was the numerous private queries I received from prominent members of the media. I am choosing to keep their identities private because their correspondence to me was private and I will respect that. The queries contained no curiosity about Israel’s possible expulsion from FIFA. They all instead openly doubted that the shooting of the two young men had even taken place. Was I sure this really happened? When I pointed to my initial sources, the response by numerous people was, “Do you have any sources that are not Palestinian?” One person, writing for a major sports website, sent me numerous queries that I did not respond to, and then when the facts of the shooting appeared in the Israeli paper Haaretz, said to me, “Forget previous queries. I see news of the shooting on Haaretz. Never mind.” The assumption of mendacity affixed to Palestinian sources spoke volumes.
His defense of course was destroyed by the piece I published. The photos clearly showed that they were not shot in the way described besides dozens of other inaccuracies. The Palestinian Arab sources indeed were proven to be mendacious.
Zirin then attempted to prove that his earlier lies are supported by a pattern of Israeli actions seemingly aimed deliberately at Palestinian Arab football players.
Bob has taken Zirin apart again, and it is devastating.
Yes it is certainly true that I don’t have a document signed by Benjamin Netanyahu calling for a systematic attack on the Palestinian national team. What I do have are names: real people, with real families, whose lives and deaths are testament to a story that needs to be told.
He was a 34-year-old member of the Palestinian national soccer team. Alkurd was killed during the 2009 Operation Cast Lead when a missile was sent into his home in Gaza.
another national team member. He was killed in his home during Operation Cast Lead as well. He was only 24.
national team member who suffered the same fate.
All three, in fact, died within seventy-two hours of one another.
They reminded many, at the time of their deaths, of Tariq Al Quto, described by the BBC as “a talented midfielder,” who was killed by the IDF in 2004.
“The worst incident occurred before the qualifiers for Korea/Japan 2002 when a number of players were prevented from leaving their land. That disappointment turned to shock when news arrived that Tarek Al Quto, a talented midfield player, had been killed in a clash in the West Bank.”
Then there are the imprisoned. We can start with Omar Abu Rios, the former starting goalkeeper for the national team. He was arrested at age 23 for being part of an attack on Israeli troops at the Amari Palestinian refugee camp near Ramallah.
There was also Muhammad Nimr, a top 23-year-old striker and national team member, who had his house destroyed by the IDF and was then jailed without charges being filed.
Nimr’s story echoed that of another striker, Zakaria Issa, who had been jailed for sixteen years before being released in 2013 when he was struck with terminal cancer.
Then there was Mahmoud Sarsak. Sarsak was a defender on the national team who was arrested and jailed without charges while trying to cross a checkpoint in order to join his teammates.