Yesterday, a football (soccer) match in Glasgow, Scotland, took place between Glasgow-based Celtic and the Israeli team Hapoal Beersheva in the Champions League qualifying round. Celtic won 5-2.

There is a history of anti-Israel Celtic supporters politicizing events. In 2014 where Celtic fans waved Palestinian flags leading to warnings this time against a repeat performance.

While based in Scotland, it’s important to understand that the

Celtic football club grew from Scotland’s marginalized Irish communities and it draws on struggles for social justice and workers’ rights in Glasgow.

The group explained that the protest is opposed to the participation of Israeli teams, “who under UEFA’s own rules should not be allowed to participate in this competition due to the system of apartheid laws and practices including religious and ethnic based colonization, military occupation and segregation of what remains of Palestinian land.”

Members of the group distributed free Palestinian flags for Celtic fans as they arrived into the stadium for the match.

Celtic fans have consistently taken a strong stance in support of Palestine. Two years ago, UEFA fined the club 16,000 pounds, more than US$20,000, after fans flew Palestinian flags during a game against Reykjavik.

The intense hatred of Israel among some Celtic fans reflects the Irish-political identification of some supporters of the club. Irish anti-Israel activists are among the most deranged on the planet, something we hilighted years ago The Irish anti-Israel sickness:

On March 11 [2012], Nicky Larson wrote a column for The Independent (Ireland) hitting on virulent anti-Israel sentiment in Ireland:

I used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard. Now I see the Left can be Right — as in right-wing…

Israel is a refuge — but a refuge under siege, a refuge where rockets rain death from the skies. And as I made the effort to empathise, to look at the world through their eyes. I began a new intellectual journey. One that would not be welcome back home.

The problem began when I resolved to come back with a film that showed both sides of the coin. Actually there are many more than two. Which is why my film is called Forty Shades of Grey. But only one side was wanted back in Dublin. My peers expected me to come back with an attack on Israel. No grey areas were acceptable.

An Irish artist is supposed to sign boycotts, wear a PLO scarf, and remonstrate loudly about The Occupation. But it’s not just artists who are supposed to hate Israel. Being anti-Israel is supposed to be part of our Irish identity, the same way we are supposed to resent the English.

There has long been hostility towards Israel among a segment of the Irish, something highlighted in The Telegraph in 2002 at the start of the Second Intifada, IRA ‘is teaching Palestinians how to blow up Israeli soldiers’ in West Bank:

THE IRA has been teaching Palestinian terrorists to build booby-trap bombs for use against Israeli soldiers, according to a British explosives expert working in the Jenin refugee camp.

Paul Collinson, a former Royal Engineers bomb disposal officer working for the Red Cross, said that the devices he had found were identical in every detail to those he had encountered in Northern Ireland.

He told The Telegraph that he had discovered more than 200 explosive devices while working in the camp in the West Bank after the recent Israeli invasion. He said that he was convinced that the bombs were either supplied by the IRA or made under their supervision.

He said: “When I saw the bombs it was like a flashback to Northern Ireland…..

As The Telegraph disclosed last month, the Israeli intelligence service Mossad asked British security agencies to check on the movements of known IRA killers to help identify a sniper who shot dead seven soldiers and three civilians in 25 minutes – using 25 bullets from a bolt-action rifle.

The IRA and PLO had a long relationship of cooperation:

For example, in June 2006, [Aengus] O’Snodaigh described Israel as “without doubt one of the most abhorrent and despicable regimes on the planet.” Two months later he claimed that the Second Lebanon War was the result of “continued Israeli aggression, expansion and occupation in the region” and called for UNIFIL’s deployment on the Israeli side of the Blue Line. During Operation Cast Lead he demanded the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and compared him to Josef Goebbels. Sinn Fein repeatedly calls for the suspension of the EU’s preferential trading agreement with the Israeli “rogue state” on the grounds of its “horrific crimes against humanity” and, in February, [Gerry] Adams himself launched the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ “Israel/Palestine Report” in Northern Ireland’s parliament buildings, which calls for an economic, political and cultural boycott/divestment/sanctions campaign against Israel.

That IRA hostility to Israel reflects itself in the Celtic fan base, as Vice reported in 2014:

The solidarity of Celtic supporters with Palestine made for a wave of headlines in Arabic media when Celtic played Spanish giants Barcelona in a 2012 Champions League group stage match. Celtic followers waved Palestinian flags after it was revealed that Barcelona hosted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit—who had been held captive for more than five years by Hamas before being freed in a prisoner exchange—at a match at Camp Nou against rival Real Madrid earlier in the season….

Sean Huddleston, a university lecturer in Scotland and an avid supporter of Celtic believes the answer has to do with Celtic supporters’ historical identification and understanding of Palestinian issues.

“The more Republican inclined Celtic supporter will feel affinity with the Palestinian cause due to the perceived links between the Irish Republican and the Palestinian struggle.”

“With regards to supporting nationalism and liberation, the more overt supporters of the Palestinian cause that you would see at Celtic Park would be inclined towards being supportive of other left-centre, revolutionary struggles in a global sense anyway,” says Huddleston.

Many of the Celtic supporters who Huddleston is referring to are sympathetic to the Irish republican Army and believe that the IRA’s fight against the British is similar to what Palestinians are going through with Israel. The IRA viewed the British as the occupiers of Northern Ireland as the Palestinians view Israel as the occupiers of Palestine.

“Although Celtic as a club is formally a non-political institution, its origins are intimately bound-up in the Irish struggle,” says Sean O’Congaile, a former IRA member who spent 15 years in the infamous H-Blocks prison in Northern Ireland for being a protesting Republican. “Were it not for the Irish famine and the political circumstances that existed in Ireland during the mid-late 1800s, it is unlikely Celtic FC would exist as it does today.

“Indeed, today Celtic continues to draws its support predominantly—but not exclusively—from the antecedents of the Irish Catholic diaspora [to Scotland] who left Ireland during the Great Hunger. Thus there is an organic connection with Ireland that goes back over several generations and there is a natural affinity with the politics of Ireland on the terraces of Celtic Park.”

So it is no mistake, or “love” for Palestinians, that motivates those Celtic fans who object to Israeli participation in football matches — it’s a reflection of hate and historic support for terrorism against Israel.

shout down by BDS supporters at NUI-Galway in 2014 of a professor who supported Israel’s right to exist reflects how the historical animosity plays itself out in the Irish BDS movement:

(Language Warning)

In preparation for the match, a Facebook event page was started to organize protests, Fly The Flag For Palestine, For Celtic, For Justice:

As you all know Celtic have been drawn with an Israeli football team who under UEFA’S own rules should not be allowed to participate in this competition due to the system of apartheid laws and practices including religious and ethnic based colonisation, military occupation and segregation of what remains of Palestinian land and over 90 laws which discriminate against indigenous Palestinians who make up 20% of the population of current day Israel.

Come gather at the entrance of The Celtic Way where we will be distributing free Palestine flags to those who will fly them. We will not be pushing them on those who do not want to participate, we respect your choice as fans to simply watch the game and support our team. We hope in return those fans will respect in turn that for many, when someone is representing Israeli state institutions it is sadly never merely a game, football, UEFA and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel ‘s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until it’s impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached.

In support of the Palestinians we Celtic fans invoke our democratic rights to display our opposition to Israeli Apartheid, settler – colonialism and countless massacres of the Palestinian people, such as the one carried out in besieged Gaza in the summer of 2014 by showing the Palestinians and the world where we stand. We stand for justice, for freedom and end to all forms of racism and oppression. Our combined histories of people drawn from Ireland, rural Scotland and the many other places were New Scots hailed from into a city in which we Glaswegians fought long and hard for workers rights and social justice are the spring from which our internationalist solidarity with the Palestinians flows like it did with the Spanish people fighting fascism in the 1930’s or black South Africans oppressed under white supremacy and Latin Americans under US backed dictatorships in the 1980’s.

Throughout these years the Palestinians struggled and died while the world looked elsewhere. No more is this the case and around the world the inspiring and unstoppable Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has grown and grown and global civil society, people like us, are finally making Israel accountable. We are part of that movement and until there is end to the brutal occupation and medieval siege of the West Bank and Gaza, until the Palestinian citizens of current day Israel have the chains of apartheid lifted from them and until all Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to their homeland we will always be visually and openly in support of the Palestinians and opposed to their Israeli colonisers and oppresses. We are with you Palestine ..You Will Never Walk Alone.

At the match, fans waved Palestinian flags and chanted. A huge banner of a skull wrapped in a Palestinian Keffiyeh — the dress code for Palestinian terrorists like Yassar Arafat — came to symbolize the tone:

Not surprisingly, the disruption received cheers from disgraced British politician George Galloway and anti-Israel social media users:

As usual, Al Jazeera’s AJ+ quickly rolled out a slick propaganda video extolling anti-Israelism as cool and hip — it’s how AJ+ does things:

Many of the photos, however, were deceiving, making it appear that the entire stadium protested the Israelis by zooming in for close shots.

In reality, as this photo demonstrates, only the small triangular corner section of the Celtic Football Club engaged in such antics:

Nonetheless, it was an ugly spectacle. Supporters of the Israeli team had to be escorted by police into the stadium. Israel Hayom (h/t Honest Reporting) has details:

Protests and violent clashes erupted in Glasgow before Wednesday night’s UEFA Champions’ League match between Scottish club Celtic and visiting Israeli side Hapoel Beersheba.

Hundreds of Celtic fans waited outside Celtic Stadium in Parkhead for the few dozen Israeli fans to arrive. When they did, several Celtic fans tried to attack them. The police forces securing the game separated the groups, and provided the Israeli fans with a security escort to their seats.

One Hapoel Beersheba fan who attended the game said: “It’s not pleasant to come to a soccer match and feel that type of hostility from the crowd. Fortunately, there were policemen there who restored order and got us in safely. Parents came here with their kids, and they certainly have nothing to do with political matters.”

The atmosphere began heating up several hours before the opening whistle, when Celtic fans launched a pro-Palestinian rally in the center of the city. Some even approached the hotels where the Israeli fans were staying. From there, the demonstrators made their way toward Parkhead carrying bags containing Palestinian flags, which they distributed to every fan entering the stadium. With every passing minute, more fans draped themselves in the flag of the Palestinian Authority.

There apparently is another match between the teams in Israel, but it’s doubtful those chicken-hawk Celtic fans in Glascow will show up and protest:

Celtic may face sanctions after the distruption, but that’s besides the point.

That the banner raised was a Palestinian Grim Reaper was a clear message threatening violence.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.