If you would believe the politicians and most of the media covering the Barcelona FC event the past couple of days in Israel, you would have thought that arguably the best team in the world was coming to the Holy Land to negotiate peace between Israel & the Arabs. Of course this is what the Shimon Peres Center for Peace would want you to take away from what really went on!
Barcelona FC arrived on Saturday afternoon at Ben Gurion airport during the Sabbath, the Jewish People’s day of rest as mentioned in the Bible, the Torah that was given by G-d to the Children of Israel. Could Barcelona have respected the Sabbath? They could of for sure, but I guess to the Peres Center and the government the Sabbath was not that important, as the great Barcelona had arrived to pay Israel a visit and nothing would stop that from happening.
From the airport it was off to the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem and then from there a quick trip to the Authority in Ramallah, then to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and finally Dora stadium near Hebron.
At Dora Stadium a festive atmosphere was being celebrated as the Authority decided to charge 50 NIS per ticket and anyone who wanted to attend could by purchasing one. Though Barcelona had wanted tickets handed out to children free of charge that didn’t quite happen.
Then of course the Authority had to use Barcelona’s visit to further their own cause saying how they live under the occupation and suffering every day. Fatah official & soccer association head Jibril Rajoub had to use racist and anti-Israel rhetoric instead of using Barcelona’s visit as a way to advance peace. If the people of Hebron were under such scrutiny I don’t think this visit would have happenned. Instead of taking advantage of an olive branch of peace, the other side had to use and twist this opportunity for their own sake.
The story was no better on Sunday as Barcelona visited the Western Wall and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had to make sure to use this chance to promote himself in an election year. He posed in the group photo and made sure that he had his picture taken with Messi and posted it almost immediately on Facebook! Really? Maybe you should have made sure that children from your city of Jerusalem had the chance to greet the players at the holy site.
From the Western Wall the dog and Pony show continued to the President’s residence where all the pomp and circumstance was rolled out on a red carpet to greet the “special” guests.
You would have thought that President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu and others were hoping that Barcelona and Leo Messi would hand over a signed peace treaty between the two sides they were visiting. However, Messi was too busy on his phone playing games instead and most probably dying of boredom as the politicos continued with more and more nonsense.
Later in the afternoon Bibi Netanyahu posted a photo on Facebook of him in uniform going off to Kfar Maccabiah with his wife to have a game with Barcelona players and children with Cancer. As Messi & Co. hit the make shift “pitch” they were mobbed by Bibi, Sarah, journalists and photographers as the children were placed on the side for a group photo. After a few photo ops with the PM the players were rushed off to Bloomfield Stadium where a supposedly 14K children were waiting for the best of Barcelona!
Well they found 14K children between the ages of 9 months to 99 years old! Tickets for this event were handed out by the Ministry of Education, though it looked as if many of the people in attendance were far from the school age unless they were students of life. No one is quite sure how the tickets were allocated, however, many people had tickets who should have never had! And for some reason someone like Avi Luzon, head of the Israel Football Association only received a ticket minutes before the event.
And an even greater issue to point out was that as the Barcelona practice went on thousands of people headed for the exits well before the festivities were finished. Another embarrassment! How can the stands have emptied out so early and that a number of “fans” had to run on the field to get up close and personal with their heroes. Another shame and blight on the organizers of the event.
All in all if one thought that Barcelona was going to get the two sides back together, Jews & Arabs for an event like this one, well, they were sorely mistaken.
The Peres Center for Peace, should be taken to task for this visit which was anything but a “Peace Tour”.