Celtic, Flags and Fractures In Paradise
The week we’ve just encountered has been fraught with murder and mayhem. The spectre of death and disorder is hovering over Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Nobody is safe and nobody is responsible – so they say. This is not a new phenomenon; it’s been gnawing and grinding its ugly teeth for decades now but has finally come to a head in the last few days.
The scenes we are witnessing are devastating, infant beheadings, kidnappings, body defilements and rape. We’re seeing whole blocks being levelled, and innocents killed by bombs and bullets in Gaza whilst Israeli towns are being shelled. I could go on.
This political carnage has caused a huge rift among Celtic supporters, nothing new, but becoming more and more fractious by the hour. Social media is awash with historical commentaries, regardless of substance or depth whilst vile abuses are being bandied about, and, sadly, age-old friendships are being torn apart and discarded.
That’s just back home in Scotland, Ireland and the rest of the U.K! I’ve friends and acquaintances here in Australia, Dubai and indeed the Middle East who are at each other’s throats, disavowing those who speak a different verse about these horrors. Although I understand both versions, this is a new and sinister low in terms of unity and togetherness.
Since the advent of Brother Walfrid’s brave new world for Irish Catholics and in the history of Scottish football, there has always been division. Some board members initially stood up and voted to have an all-Catholic team on the park.
They were swiftly re-seated by righteous thinking men who sought to demand for all the equal status the recipients of their charity were being denied. Jock Stein being denied a place on the future board in the 70s only highlighted the need for a re-think in those terms.
This still irks today, but fortunately our ‘Club Like No Other’ has moved on, and, despite the ongoing legal strife which cuts like a knife, there is very little to complain about in these terms on Planet Celtic.
However, the Green Brigade, an endless source of banter and encouragement to the team together with their tireless efforts to feed and clothe the marginalized in Scotland, (for which they should be applauded,) are displaying banners which divide us all.
The Palestinian flag is being flown at almost every match and this is a major bone of contention for many other supporters, and for the right reasons.
Nir Bitton and Liel Abada are Celtic players past and present and are having these political statements thrust down their throats despite both playing and being in love with both the club and the support. This is a problem, not just for them but the whole fanbase.
Whilst supporting the Palestine cause for good and noble reasons, (Celtic supporters have always backed the underdog and the oppressed and the Palestinians are certainly that,) the group who have attacked Israel are Hamas, a radical jihadist Islamic fundamentalist outfit. Most Palestine residents fiercely oppose them!
Those in the know, and I have spoken to many, have stated that Hamas are tyrants who control everything which goes on in Palestine, demanding a cut of everything from food, drink, oil and even access to the internet. For Hamas, see ISIS – so they say. Video evidence backs this up.
Conversely, Israel has a reputation for murdering, torturing and bulldozing whole communities in a bid to ethnically cleanse the whole of Gaza in a bid to gain Zionist supremacy – so they say. Video evidence also backs this up.
Depending on which side of the political fence you are perched, you will have a strong viewpoint. Those viewpoints are being unfolded within the confines of Celtic Park, and the support is morally split. The support is also split on whether we should, or should not, sing songs about the IRA.
This has been a bone of contention for decades also. Celtic were founded by an Irish Catholic priest; therefore, we should sing songs of freedom and defiance and fly the flags which show our solidarity for the fallen and oppressed in the Emerald isle.
Or…Celtic are ‘A Club For All’: embracing all colours and creeds, making friends around the world wherever we go lest we become like others who exclude those who pray differently from us. Therefore, we should not align with the IRA and sing anti-English songs which alienate those in our club from a different landscape, belief or who may have lost a family member to previous atrocities.
You see, there are multiple components to our flag-waving and song selections, and people are being hurt and damaged as a result, our own people! I’d hazard that the majority of Celtic fans are still Catholic in their beliefs, if not in attendance.
That being the case, the Catholic command, not viewpoint, is, Love your neighbour! Not, unless you like them or agree with their political stance. If love means abusing or hating then I’ve been reading the wrong literature, but I’m pretty certain that’s not the case.
Gaza, Ashdod and countless other violent hotspots around the globe are in terrible crisis, one which may lead to a third world war. Yes, it’s a distinct possibility, therefore I will beg the question, what role will we play in all of this?
Are we bringers of peace in our own communities, or not? If not, why not? What do we wish to achieve both on the geopolitical field and at our beloved Celtic Park which was founded by a man of God and for the purposes of unity and peace and of course to feed hungry children.
There are only two answers to that, and I’ll leave you to ponder your own response to a critical situation, one in which we all may be embroiled in soon, whether we like it or not: Division, or Peace?