An Edinburgh University student elected as the institution’s delegate to the national student union has found himself the centre of attention, after calling Zionists “sub-human rats” in a social media rant.
Daniel Yahia, a Celtic Football Club supporter who describes himself as a “student, Communist and unrepentant Fenian b*stard,” was reacting to images posted on Facebook by the club’s Israeli player Nir Bitton in support of the IDF and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In comments reported by The Tab, he wrote: ““Sick of seeing Celtic fans creaming themselves over Nir Bitton. We are a club open to all, that cannot be disputed, but by all, we mean humans, of difference creeds, races and religions. Zionists are subhuman and, Nir Bitton is a filthy, Zionist rat.”
A friend subsequently responded to Yahia’s comment supportively, saying Bitton should be “gassed,” but the elected National Union of Students delegate defended this as a Belfast term for terminating someone’s employment.
Asked to explain his comments, Yahia, who has not taken up his NUS role, said: “Bitton’s political views do not align with the fans’, Zionism contrasts with equality, solidarity and many other factors which make up the Celtic support.”
He said his comments were “intemperate and perhaps a little much,” but denied they were racist or anti-Semitic, and described the Israeli regime as one of “apartheid” and called Netanyahu a “war criminal”.
He added: “Zionists are a political movement. They do not have one religion or nationality. You can have Christian Zionists, and Japanese Zionists… Zionism is the practice of genocide in Palestine. If you’ve never been to Gaza, I suggest you go… I have no problems with Jews or Israelis, just zionists.”
Bitton, who served in the IDF while playing for FC Ashdod, has previously provoked an angry response from Celtic fans for posting prayers for Israeli soldiers to “strike down” Palestinians in Gaza during the conflict in 2014.