A tweet from Euronews showing Jews of Iranian origin cheering Iran in the World Cup:
🎥 اسرائیلیهای ایرانی تبار روز بازی #ایران و #اسپانیا در اورشلیم (بیت المقدس) دور هم جمع شدند و تیم ملی ایران را تشویق کردند
◀️ https://t.co/913NGmMYI9 pic.twitter.com/vzOZ0nf6bD
— euronews فارسی (@euronews_pe) June 22, 2018
Fans of the Iranian soccer team leaped out of their seats cheering wildly and waving Iranian flags when Saeid Ezatolahi thumped the ball into the back of the net in Wednesday’s World Cup game against Spain, tying the game 1-1 and leaving Iran a chance to advance. A moment later, groans of disappointment spread as the goal was disqualified.This scene did not take place in Tehran or at the stadium in Kazan, Russia. It was in a bar in Jerusalem, where the fans were mostly Israelis expressing their shock and disappointment at Iran’s defeat.Geopolitics set aside, many Israeli Jews are rooting for Muslim countries in this year’s World Cup, including Israel’s archrival Iran. The Israeli national team has only competed in one World Cup, in 1970, leaving local soccer fans to root for other teams when the quadrennial event rolls around.This year, Iran and four Arab states — Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt — are competing in the World Cup in Russia. This rare showing of countries from the Muslim world, from which a large percentage of Israelis immigrated in the 20th century, has prompted many in Israel to cheer on the teams of their ancestral countries. As of 2011, Israel was home to 141,000 Jews of Iranian descent, 492,000 Jews of Moroccan descent, 134,000 of Tunisian and Algerian descent, and 57,000 of Egyptian origin, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics.The Israeli government has also joined in the World Cup spirit. The Foreign Ministry’s official social media accounts have been publishing messages of encouragement to the Muslim countries competing in the World Cup even though Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Tunisia, Morocco or Iran.“So many teams from our region competing in the @FIFAWorldCup, Too bad we’re not there too! Good luck #IRN, Good luck #MAR,” the @Israel Twitter feed said last week. The @IsraelArabic account also wished Saudi Arabia good luck ahead of the tournament’s opening game against Russia.Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that Israel sought “to send a message of support to sport and separate sports and politics” through its social media statements in support of Muslim countries. “We did not receive any official response from those countries, but we do receive on social media very positive reactions from citizens of those nations,” he said.
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