Moeen Ali's actions yesterday, wearing "free Gaza" and "Free Palestine" wristbands was completely wrong on several levels - its really that simple, & it shouldn't need explaining. he shouldn't have done it, and after the wrist bands are removed, his wrists need to be slapped and here's why:
1. Keep it out of cricket - whether its pro-life or pro-abortion, Labour or Tory, Pakistan v India (conflicts not cricket!) - unless the ECB have approved a statement - for example wearing a poppy or Children in Need badge, no players should wear political statements whilst representing their country - not the place! I'm an England supporter - I'm English, Jewish and an Israeli citizen. I hold different views to Moeen and I will argue those differences everywhere, but please, please, don't make me do it on a cricket pitch. It is the one place where we put all differences aside except those that concern the game and team selection! Moeen made me feel very uncomfortable and divided yesterday, and thats not what cricket should bring to it's fans - and let me be clear if he plays for England, I am Moeen's fan and I want him to respect that. If these divisions are allowed to enter the game, it will ruin the game. That simple. And what if someone in the dressing room had felt the opposite? What then to team cohesion? A poor decision by a very junior player in the England squad.
2. Moeen Ali's statement is disturbing on other more important levels than cricket (yes they do exist!): Whether he likes it or not, Ali represents moderate inclusive Britain - a religious British Muslim, born to Pakistani immigrants, a sportsman who wears his faith with pride alongside the Three Lions of England, and for that I feel huge respect for him and the country. However his divisive "Free Gaza" support shows that he has failed to understand that fact. Essentially it means "leave Hamas alone" - the two cannot be separated as long as Hamas is the government of Gaza. So we have a supposedly moderate, very English Muslim, representing his country in front of millions, totally comfortable with essentially advocating and supporting a Jihadist terror organization - because the campaign is about making Israel withdraw, leaving Hamas in chare of Gaza once more. Hamas are part of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have ruled Gaza with a Taliban style rod of iron for 10 years, stealing billions of dollars of aid money from Palestinians & diverting it into buying sophisticated rockets, and building a massive network of terror tunnels using the concrete and metal they begged Israel to allow in to Gaza 2 years ago for building projects. Supporting Hamas is not supporting Gaza, any more than the British Jihadists fighting in Syria are supporting that country or it's people. "Free Gaza" is therefore an expression of extremism that will condemn Gazan Palestinians & Southern israeli residents to years more suffering under Hamas & cycles of violence such as we are witnessing now. A young man of Ali's obvious education, intelligence and supposed moderacy should be able to recognize this - He should also recognize that extremism is the cancer of Islam and British Islam in particular and that as a role model, he needs to think, learn, question and deeply understand any issue before he slaps on a wristband in public.
I invite Moeen to visit Israel - I can help organize hsi trip. He can sit down with people from all sides of this conflict, visit the places most affected, perhaps inspire some Palestinian and Jewish kids through some cricket outreach, and then be able to make intelligent meaningful statements about a complex situation. Oh and for the record - wristbands are not intelligent, meaningful statements, but foolish propaganda that have absolutely no place on the wrist of an English cricketer as he takes strike for his country.