Never mind the daily rocket attacks on Sderot. Never mind the quasi-civil war raging in the Gaza strip. Never mind the thousands of Palestinians on the brink of starvation as a result of their intransigent government’s policies. Foremost on the daily agenda of the media in most of the Arab-Muslim world is none of the above. It is John Painstil, the Ghanian soccer player that dared wave the Israeli flag after his team scored against the Czech Republic. Painstil plays for a soccer team in Tel Aviv and said he did it to please his friends and fans back in Israel.

The uproar was such that Painstil later apologized for his misdeed. The spokesperson for the Ghana team said the gesture was “based on sheer naivety” and added that Painstil is being offered special therapy to ensure he “overcame his current state of mind”…

Israelis (and Jews worldwide) reacted to the admittedly exaggerated reaction in the Arab world with nothing but contempt and disdain. I’m wondering how these “shocked” observers would have reacted had Painstil waved a Palestinian flag instead of an Israeli one.

I have a different take on this “flag-gate” episode. Call me cynical, but perhaps this whole gesture was nothing but a shameless self-promoting marketing tactic, designed to boost Painstil’s standing in the eyes of his Israeli employer? You see, the flag Painstil waved is one of millions issued on occasion of Israel’s independence day last month by Israel’s leading bank, the HaPoalim bank. The team Painstill plays for is HaPoel Tel Aviv. Need I elaborate further on this “apparent” coincidence? I dare not.


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