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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

‘I have to support my people’: Israeli men’s soccer goalie says soccer is his safe space

FAU men’s soccer senior goalie Rotem Fadida, an Israeli, sheds light on how the Israel-Hamas war is impacting him at FAU.
Rotem+Fadida+draping+the+Israel+flag+before+the+Owls+2-0+win+against+the+University+of+Alabama+at+Birmingham+on+Oct.+8%2C+2023.
Zachary Odza
Rotem Fadida draping the Israel flag before the Owls’ 2-0 win against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Oct. 8, 2023.

Hamas killed about 1,400 Israeli citizens when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in Israel killing 9,700 Palestinian civilians in retaliatory attacks, according to a live tracker of the war by the Associated Press

FAU men’s soccer goalie Rotem Fadida grew up in Haifa, a port city located in northern Israel. All of Fadida’s family is in Israel, including his parents and grandparents, and he has friends who are serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). 

He played professional soccer in Israel with Hapoel Haifa F.C. in the Israeli Premier League. When the opportunity came knocking for Fadida to play soccer in the United States, Fadida came to the University of Hartford to obtain his bachelor’s degree in business analytics.

In 2023, Fadida came to FAU to earn his master’s degree. He opened up about how the war has made him feel and how he uses soccer to cope with that.

“It wasn’t easy for me at the beginning, for sure, but we have to keep going in life and stay focused and everything,” said Fadida. “Being part of the soccer team here, soccer was kind of like a safe place for me where I could go, practice, play a little bit and clear my head.”

He also showed his support for his homeland by draping the Israel flag during the Owls’ 2-0 win over the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Oct. 8.

It was very clear for me, and even if it’s the minimum that I can do here, I have to support my country,” said Fadida on the decision. “I have to support my people, my family, everyone that is related to Israel. It’s kind of a message for everyone and for the world to know that we are here and we are here to stay and we are stronger than ever. It was the least that I can do for my country and I am really happy that I was able to do it because I’m proud of my country. I’m proud of my people.”

Adam Kolett, the executive director of Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, sent the UP a statement about what has happened on campus since Oct. 7 and how Hillel has organized events to show support of Israel. 

“The Hamas attack on October 7 was more brutal than anything the Jewish community and Israel have experienced in decades and that our students have experienced in their lifetime,” Kolett wrote. “Amid this trauma, Jewish students on campus found themselves assailed by hostile voices decrying Israel’s effort to respond to this horrifying terrorism, even going so far as to blame Israel. On campus, our events have created space for students to mourn, process the horrors they witnessed, and celebrate their personal connection to the State of Israel and the global Jewish community.”

Miriam Sanua Dalin is a history professor specializing in Jewish Studies at FAU, who is an expert in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Sanua Dalin feels Israel’s reaction towards Hamas is justified, and that Israel is protecting itself from possible genocide.

“[Israel’s] goal is to completely eliminate Hamas as an organization, to make sure it has no control over Gaza, that it completely loses its ability to feel terrorists and perpetuate any violence, and they’re committed to doing that.”

After going in depth about the history of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, she understands why those who support Palestine want a ceasefire after seeing Israel fire back at Hamas.

“The rest of the world, what they do is they see the bombing of Gaza and they see Palestinian civilians being killed, and they say, ‘No, cease fire immediately.’ But if there’s a cease fire immediately, that means Hamas has won. And Hamas has promised it’s going to keep doing October 7 over and over and over and over again.”

Fadida disagrees with students’ actions in recent weeks in support of Palestine, which he views as tacit support of Hamas.

“It’s not easy, I would say, especially when you see all of the things that are going around the U.S. I get to see a lot of Pro-Palestinian rallies,” Fadida explained. “Like, we get to see that in the last [couple of] days more than usual, which is something that I don’t like to see but I’m happy to say this, I won’t get into it but, if you support a terror organization, it doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m happy here, especially here at FAU. We have a really big Jewish community and we have the Hillel organization, so it’s really helpful.”

Fadida wants people to remember the violence that Hamas displayed when it attacked Israel.

“I want people to understand that they have to support the right side, and they have to listen to the facts and they need to listen to the history and don’t be full of hate without any reason,” said Fadida. “Because they see a lot of people supporting the wrong side, and it’s impossible when you support a terror organization and you support people that are murdering and kidnapping people from their houses. So when they see people supporting this side of the conflict, it makes no sense to me.” 

Editor-in-Chief Jessica Abramsky contributed to this report.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. Email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04 for information regarding this or other stories.

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About the Contributor
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.

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