Last Monday, Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny tweeted in solidarity for Palestine and its people, currently facing Israeli organized violence.
The Egyptian posted on his Twitter account: “My heart and my soul and my support for you Palestine.”
The Palestinian people are suffering under illegal Israeli occupation, backed by US’s resources, for 73 years now.
Israel attacked the state of Palestine in 1948, and then illegally occupied it. Not only this, but in 1967, they invaded West Bank and Gaza, which they’d allotted to the indigenous Palestinian civilians. Despite UN’s disapproval Israeli settlers started encroaching on these Palestinian lands.
Now too, Israeli forces are enforcing evictions, attacking Palestinian buildings via air strikes, and performing other atrocities.
It is not anti-sematic to point out that such Israeli violence of decades must stop. Past sufferings of this community do not justify present crimes against people who don’t even have an army budget.
And this is exactly what Elneny did when Elneny tweeted in solidarity for Palestine.
Arsenal Sponsors Furious
However, Arsenal had a negatory response to Elneny, as they did when Mesut Ozil spoke about the persecuted Uighur Muslims.
While Ozil was outcast then, now, the club’s Jewish sponsors are pressuring them to pressure Elneny, in turn.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, some Jewish fans were angered by the Egyptian’s post.
They didn’t like a picture featuring an outline of Israel with pro-Palestine images within it.
Then, Ofer, Lavazza Group (a Jewish-owned coffee enterprise), one of Arsenal’s official sponsors, said they would talk urgently with them.
“We’ll immediately reach out to Arsenal to remark we are concerned about the club associated with such a message,” a spokesperson for the coffee brand said.
“Content of this post is totally not aligned with our company values. Lavazza Group is fully committed against racism and antisemitism,” Ofer’s spokesperson further said.
Arsenal defended the player, but said that the club would hold talks with him about the post, in their statement: “As with any employees of Arsenal, our players are entitled to express their views on their own platforms.
“That said, we are speaking to Mo about this so he understands the wider implications of his post.”
Fans Support Elneny
While Elneny’s tweet caused some Jewish fans to hit back at him, this hit-back and Arsenal’s own timid stance, created an even wider backlash among football fans and social media communities.
Users called out Ofer for pressuring Arsenal to distance itself from a tweet sharing solidarity.
“As an Arsenal season ticker holder, as a Jew, as the son of a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 of her family, I will be writing to Arsenal to say that Tal Ofer’s view doesn’t represent my view,” wrote former South African politician Andrew Feinstein.
“Obviously it’s antisemitic to even hint that there may be any kind of Israel lobby pressuring companies, football clubs, universities and governments to censor themselves and others in the face of Israeli atrocities,” Middle East Eye columnist Jonathan Cook tweeted sarcastically.