Welsh city scraps pro-Israel show ahead of soccer match
The city council of the Welsh capital, Cardiff, has called off a pro-Israel photography exhibit as protests are planned ahead of a Euro 2016 qualifying match between Wales and Israel in the city.
A spokesperson for the Cardiff Council said Friday that the body decided to close down the show after it received a complaint, adding that the decision was also affected by protests planned for Sunday’s match between Wales and Israel.
The photo show, entitled “Jewish-Arab football: diversity and coexistence through lower-league football” was apparently organized to tone down the rising anti-Israel sentiments in Wales, where people have vowed to protest Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians.
The exhibition was taken down less than 24 hours after it started in a local library, with officials saying citizens may accuse the Council of being biased in favor of Israel.
“… it was felt that running this exhibition could lead visitors to suppose that the Council was displaying bias,” said the spokesperson, adding, “The Council is aware there are protests planned around the Wales-Israel game at the weekend, and this was taken into consideration.”
Pro-Israel lobbyists slammed the move, saying the Cardiff Council has violated the rights of photographers to freedom of speech. Israeli officials also reacted to the call-off. Yiftah Curiel, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London, called the decision destructive and said it helps those trying to “de-legitimize” the Tel Aviv regime.
In 1994, Israel became a member of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), 20 years after it was expelled from the Asian football. Israeli teams have repeatedly failed to ascend to the top level of football in Europe, including the national European championship.
This year, Israel is currently third in its qualifying group as Wales and Belgium have better tally of points in group B of the competition. In the first-leg match in Haifa in March, Israel was beaten 3-0 by Wales, a team desperately seeking a direct entry to the finals after more than 50 years.