A legendary Israeli football player became the target of harsh criticism of an on-air rant in which he denounced the infidelity of Israeli Arab lawmakers, whom they called "terrorists" and spies. Eyal Berkovic is now faced with a lawsuit against defamation, the threat of criminal charges and a lawsuit, and eventually suspended his talk show.
The controversy about Berkovic's remarks continued to be nervous with nerves and emotions high in the Israeli Arab community after passing the nation state law, which states that "the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people. "
Berkovic's attack on the Arab politicians of the country was so harsh that a subsequent apology, coupled with the announcement of the network that the show would be suspended for a week, is the furore – both in Berkovic and in the network was broadcast – brought to calm. his show to broadcast the pre-taped program.
The football player launched Friday his tirade on "Ofira and Berkovic", the show he organized together with broadcaster Ofira Asayag where the two personalities often joke and tease each other about personal and political affairs.
Asayag started the discussion and noticed how difficult it had been for Israeli Arab politicians to appear on the program by putting different names in their names. Berkovic responded by saying that it did not only bother him to emphasize that Arab Mothers are hesitant to go into the air, he did not want them there in the first place.
Berkovic said that Arab lawmakers "know that they are Trojans, sit in the Knesset and spy, and so they know what I am going to say to them: they are not one of us."
"Do not come", he explained as he looked at the camera as if to directly address the politicians. "I ask you – do not show up We're doing great without you We do not need you here If you come, I get up and go away There's no chance I would ever interview them I would give them the do not give honor, I would go. "
While Asayag tried unsuccessfully to keep the joke light-hearted, Berkovic told his confrontations with Arab politicians in the past. "Do not bring them here if you do not want me to leave," he warned her. When they come to the show, he repeats: "I will not talk to them, I do not want to see them." He stressed that "this is not a racist thing: they just hate Israel – they're just terrorists in the Knesset. I do not want to stay with them, I do not want to interview them and I do not want to see them. & # 39;
With a resigned tone, Asayag concluded: "So it is better that they do not come" and brought the show to an end quickly.
The next day, indignation about social media, directed by Berkovic and the network that broadcasted the show, exploded, prompting several legislators that Berkovic would be fired.
"It is high time for Berkovic to pay his dirty mouth," MK Esawi Freige (Meretz), who threatened with the accusation of Berkovic, tweeted. MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) tweeted that Berkovic had committed a "laying back" against Arab lawmakers. MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) tweeted that he had been invited to appear "often" on the program, but refused.
After the angry reaction on Friday evening and Saturday, Berkovic apologized and said that he "did not want to insult the Arab community or all Arab Knesset members." He added: "I have deep disagreements with some of them, but I did not intend to insult and stigmatize them all, and some of the language I used was inappropriate and so I apologize."
On the same day, the channel, Keshet, said that Berkovic's remarks should not have been broadcast, and we apologize to everyone who was offended.As in many previous shows, MKs from all over the world will spectrum will be invited to the next show. "
When the controversy refused to disappear, Keshet announced a day later, on Sunday, that due to "the gravity" of Berkovic's remarks, the company "decided to spend the next few days investigating the rules and procedures, which is why the program will not be broadcast this Friday. "
After the announcement, the columnist from Haaretz, Ariana Melamed, wrote that the action was not an adequate punishment, and she published a formal complaint she had filed with the police, and called on him to accuse him of sedition.
Berkovic is hardly a stranger of controversy. He often clashed with teammates and managers in both Israel and Great Britain. In 2002, while playing for Manchester City, he was examined for making a "throat cut" gesture with a female fan, which he claimed was a response to anti-Semitic interference. An article about the incident that appeared in the U.K. tabloid. The sun was wearing the headline: "You're right, Eyal."
Berkovic dominated the Israeli football world in the nineties and played for Maccabi Haifa and the national team of the country. From 1996 to 2005 he found successes overseas, played in several top clubs in the United Kingdom and then returned to Israel for a short period as a player.
After completing his athletic career, he led several teams, owned one and often appeared on television as a commentator, reality show participant and host.