Kessel’s missing excerpt

An article published in memory of Jerrold Kessel, who died last week at 65.

Last year, Jerrold Kessel, a former Jerusalem Post sports editor and news editor who also worked extensively for CNN and Haaretz, published a book entitled Goals for Galilee, along with his longtime colleague Pierre Klochendler.
As the book’s subtitle made clear, it followed “the triumphs and traumas of the Sons of Sakhnin, Israel’s Arab Football Club.” Sakhnin is an Arab village in Galilee which has defied immensely long odds to produce a high-flying soccer team, whose greatest moment of glory was victory in the national State Cup in 2004 – a success that led, in turn, to the club’s participation in the following year’s European UEFA Cup.
Racism beyond the 90 minutes
Kessel and Klochendler made a documentary about the club in 2007 – We Too Have No Other Land – and followed that with the book.
To do so, they spend a considerable amount of time in the village and with the club, and invested a considerable amount of passion – to the extent that, at Kessel’s funeral last Friday, one friend from Sakhnin eulogized him as someone they had grown to respect and love “more than a brother.” The book used the improbable success of the Sons of Sakhnin to probe the essence of Arab-Jewish relations here, looking deep into the rifts within Israeli society and exploring the extent to which soccer could help close divides.
The book included a chapter entitled “Racism, anthems and national flags,” from which, to its authors’ abiding regret, a key section of the original manuscript was excised from the published volume.
At Klochendler’s suggestion, and as a mark of a respect for Kessel, we today publish that missing excerpt.
Toward the end of the excerpt, mention is made of the destruction of Sakhnin’s old soccer ground, which did not meet Israeli Premier League standards, and its replacement with a new ground. “In our book,” says Klochendler, “the stadium, that little patch of lawn, became a symbol of the determination of the Arab minority to be accepted by their country, Israel – simply by hosting the country on their home ground.”
The new stadium was completed in the summer of 2005, Klochendler notes, “with financial help from the office of prime minister Ariel Sharon and even more substantial funding from the Qataris.” Indeed, says Klochendler, “the ‘Doha Stadium’ in Sakhnin was the first ever, and only, investment in Israel by an Arab state.”