The controversy about the campaign to boycott Israel in general and Israeli sports in particular suffers from the absence of empirical data about the political character of the Israeli sports sphere, as well as the way Jewish Israelis see a possible boycott. Supporters of the boycott hope, among other things, that the campaign is registered among Israelis, and maybe even contribute to political change. Liberal opposition relies on the argument that sports is a beacon of inter-ethnic tolerance that should be cherished rather than targeted. Through a survey with a representative sample of internet users among the adult Jewish citizens of Israel (N = 600), this study provides the following related observations: (1) there is no evidence that Jewish Israeli sports fans are more likely to question the regime of Jewish supremacy than non-fans. (2) Among Jewish Israelis there is a small, but non-negligible minority who justifies the boycott of Israeli sports, and this minority is even larger among people who attend the soccer stadium and/or are politically active. (3) A significant majority of Jewish Israelis (69%) are concerned about a possible boycott of Israel in general, but this majority is less clear among men who are sports fans. The findings question the liberal expectation that Israeli sports serve as a model for inclusive citizenship and at the same time they indicate the potential of sports to amplify existing political tendencies among fans. These observations should be considered in future debates about sanctions and boycotts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)