Australian football star holidays in the Middle East" "Those guys are gangsters."
Posted by Morrissey on February 25, 2021, 10:21 am
There are thoughtful and well informed athletes, like the Irish rugby footballers who spoke out about and visited besieged Gaza. And then there is West Coast Eagles star Nic Naitanui .... |
'When people think of a holiday they think of an amazing island... For me, I try to get the complete opposite,' he said. 'Sometimes I go to the extreme level and I go to places you probably shouldn't travel.'
The Eagles star said he was 'safe' in Israel but found himself in some 'sticky situations' once crossing into Palestinian areas.
'I remember one time I had to lay down flat in the car and put a jacket over my head because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,' he said. 'Because I looked like an American and I was screaming 'I'm from Fiji!'.'
Naitanui said the trip was a 'big eyeopener' and a 'different world' to his reality at home in Perth.
'Yeah it was different. When you're seeing missiles flying over your head at night time or people walking around with machine guns like AK-47s in the street, things like that,' he said. 'You see militant groups running wild on the back of their Toyota hiluxes.'
Naitanui said he wouldn't recommend visiting that part of the world, appearing to have learned his lesson.
'The club didn't really like me going there, but I'm a free man, I'm a free spirit and free to travel where I can, when I can,' he said.
Naitanui said he was only able to venture to far more dangerous areas by convincing Julie Bishop, who was the foreign affairs minister up until August 2018, to grease the wheels.
'She was the number one ticket holder for a while at West Coast, and she helped me get in contact with a few people and put me in the right places,' Naitanui said. 'Growing up here in the [notoriously rough] Perth suburb of Midland, a lot of people think they're gangsters. You're not gangsters. You go over there, those guys are gangsters, they are real thugs.'
The great Israeli journalist met Julie Bishop in late 2017. Unlike Nic Naitanui, he was not impressed...
In Canberra last week I met some Australian members of parliament. It gave me hope, because until I heard them speak I had always thought that Israel’s right wing politicians were the worst. —-(LAUGHTER)— I’ve never heard any Israeli politician speak about the Palestinian people the way that those Australian politicians did. But they are Australia’s problem, not mine. (LAUGHTER) I spoke with the Australian foreign minister; she talked and she was very nice but we could not agree on anything. (LAUGHTER)
---Gideon Levy, speaking in Auckland, 3 December 2017