Monthly Archives: February 2014

YOUNG PALESTINIAN PLAYERS ATTACKED AS GLOBAL PETITION TELLS FIFA “SUSPEND ISRAEL”

 
Red card fifa Petition imageAs is so often the case, horrifying events overtake us as we are in the process of planning our campaigns. While Red Card Israeli Racism was setting up an international petition (see below) to support Palestinian calls for the Israeli FA to be suspended from FIFA, two young Palestinian players were badly injured by the Israeli military. At the same time play had to be suspended at the Faisal al-Husseini stadium because of tear gas fired by the same Israeli forces.
Johar Halabiyeh, 19, Player in Abu Dis Club. Shot by Israeli soldiers and assaulted by dogs on 31/1/2014

Johar Halabiyeh (left), 19, Player in Abu Dis Club. Shot by Israeli soldiers and assaulted by dogs on 31/1/2014

Pictures from xssportpal.blogspot
 
Johar.7
 
 
The Red Card campaign is developing a long-term strategy targeting Israel’s membership of international football bodies, at the Brazil FIFA World Cup, at next year’s UEFA competition (which has Israel playing Wales both at home and away), and beyond. The international petition is intended to serve as a rallying point for this long-term effort.
Please add your signature and pass this on by email, FB pages, Twitter etc.
 
INTERNATIONAL PETITION SAYS SUSPEND ISRAEL FROM FIFA
·       Campaigners back Palestinian pressure on FIFA
·       Two Palestinian footballers maimed by Israeli forces (Note 2)
 
Campaign group Red Card Israeli Racism has launched an international petition calling on world football’s governing body FIFA “to suspend membership of the Israeli FA until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law.”
The Red Card campaign drew support for its campaign against Israel hosting the 2012 UEFA under-21 championship from figures as diverse as filmmaker Ken Loach, Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu and footballing legend Eric Cantona.
Its new petition says Israeli state policies, implemented by its civil and military forces, deny Palestinians the right to play and compete, nationally and internationally.
 
“It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice….[to]  commercial and cultural actions worldwide … demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies,” says the petition text.
Most recent victims of Israeli policy are two young footballers shot by Israeli soldiers on their way home from training in the central West Bank on Jan 31. Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, have now been told ‘they are unlikely to play again’
Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril al-Rajoub cited the incident as evidence of Israel’s unsuitability for membership of FIFA. He has repeatedly threatened to call on the FIFA annual congress in Brazil in June to suspend the IFA.
 
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Note 1.  Petition
I call on FIFA to suspend membership of the Israeli FA until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law, thus enabling Palestinian footballers to play and compete nationally and internationally
Why?
Since 1967, Israel has maintained a brutal military occupation of Palestine, building illegal settlements and a separation wall on stolen land, despite condemnation by the UN and International Court of Justice. Within Israel, over fifty laws discriminate against its Palestinian citizens. When influential sports organizations say nothing in the face of an injustice of such magnitude they are complicit.
Commercial and cultural actions worldwide are increasingly demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies.
It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice.
The Israeli occupation specifically impacts on Palestinian football by restricting movement of players within the West Bank, between the West Bank and Gaza, and to take part in international competitions. Israel limits imports of vital sporting equipment. Players have been harassed, detained, imprisoned and killed.*
There is blatant well documented racism within Israeli football.** Players of Palestinian origin suffer insults from the terraces: Beitar Jerusalem football club is arguably worse than any in Europe with chants of ‘Death to Arabs’ and arson attacks. Any efforts made by the Israeli FA to stop this abuse have been ineffective.
In 2013 footballers like Eric Cantona, Frederic Kanoute and 50 other international players challenged UEFA’s decision to hold the Men’s U-21 tournament in Israel. Eminent human rights activists questioned how an organisation that clearly promotes anti-racism can place a major competition in an openly racist country? Yet UEFA still plans to hold the U-19 Women’s final there in 2015 and may consider Israel as a venue for preliminary matches in Euro 2020.
FIFA has recognized some Israeli abuses and created a Task Force aimed at facilitating the movement of players and equipment. But its success depends on the goodwill of the Israeli Defence Force.
When FIFA formally suspended the membership of South Africa FA from 1964 until 1992, its action contributed to an end to apartheid.
Therefore, this petition asks FIFA to follow this precedent and suspend Israel as it did South Africa until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law. The Israeli government must at some point take notice.
 
Note 2. Link to report on injured footballers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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J-BIG – THE JEWS WHO BACK THE BOYCOTT – WRITE UP IN MORNING STAR

Today’s MORNING STAR (“The People’s Daily”) carried this feature about the foundation and work of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.

DEBORAH FINK and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi are co-founders of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-Big), a group which has scored major successes as progressive Jewish people respond to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The pair met through Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), founded in February 2002 in response to the second intifada.

Fink joined in July that year. Coming from a conservative, pro-Israel background, she found it reassuring to meet fellow Jews who were against Israel’s policy in Palestine.

She sees JfJfP as an important organisation.

“It shows the world that Israel does not represent all Jews, that it cannot count on all Jews for support,” she says.

“And to a certain extent it protects non-Jewish critics of Israeli policy from bogus charges of anti-semitism.”

Anti-semitism is often the accusation thrown at Israel’s critics, with the aim of intimidating them into silence.

Fink felt there needed to be a specifically Jewish voice supporting the campaign to boycott Israeli goods, so with Wimborne-Idrissi she founded J-Big in 2006.

They chose the tongue-in-cheek slogan “it’s kosher to boycott Israeli goods,” highlighting the fact that many Jews are involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, so it’s “kosher” to take part.

Wimborne-Idrissi comes from a left-wing Jewish household. Her father used to sell the Morning Star’s predecessor the Daily Worker, so solidarity with oppressed peoples is something she grew up with.

She discovered JfJfP in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003.

A speaker at a Stop the War demo was speaking, as a Jew, for Palestinian rights. Wimborne-Idrissi signed up there and then.

She felt that JfJfP, while doing great work in the Jewish community, did not go as far as she and others wanted in the boycott campaign. A further step was needed.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had set up a Boycott Israeli Goods campaign and was showing an interest in getting a specifically Jewish voice involved.

Wimborne-Idrissi and Fink pulled together some like-minded people and set up J-Big. A founding statement was published, a banner sporting the “kosher” slogan produced and J-Big set about mobilising support.

Wimborne-Idrissi says it wasn’t long before the expected deluge of venomous accusations flooded in.

They were denounced as “self-hating Jews” and “traitors to the Jewish state of Israel.”

“We had no illusions that the campaign would bring the Israeli economy crashing down,” she says.

“Boycotting avocados and peppers grown on illegally occupied Palestinian land and then sold as Israeli would not bring the country’s economy to its knees, but the immorality of how and where these goods are produced is an important message to get across.”

J-Big became more interested in boycotting Israel at an institutional level — by, for example, boycotting cultural events such as when Israeli musicians come to Britain under the Israeli flag to perform here while Palestinian artists are suffering under the occupation.

Here Fink’s musical training — she’s a bachelor of music and a trained soprano — came to the fore.

Working with others in the BDS movement Fink debuted by interrupting the Jerusalem Quartet at the Wigmore Hall in 2010, singing a parody of Jerusalem, Holy City.

J-Big was involved when the campaign tackled a more high-profile target, encouraging as many as possible to join in the protests when the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra played the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.

There were many disruptions to the orchestra’s performance, the first of which involved 13 activists in a choir led by Fink.

Sue Blackwell, a prominent member of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine who had written the words to the Wigmore parody, wrote a new version of Ode to Joy as Ode to Boycott, including the words “Israel end your occupation, Palestine must now be free, ethnic cleansing and apartheid should belong to history.”

Protesters, who came from as far afield as Edinburgh and Brighton, were strategically seated around the auditorium and their interventions carefully timed.

During a quiet musical passage protesters in vacant choral seats stood up with cloth banners which together spelled Free Palestine.

The protesters were eventually escorted out of the hall, but the protest made global news.

Fink explains the controversial action by pointing to the way the orchestra operated as a cultural ambassador, making Israel appear civilised.

“As a musician I find it hard to disrupt beautiful music,” she says. “But basic human rights are more important.

“It’s not just about influencing the audience at a prom, but about influencing world opinion. You can’t do that by handing out a few leaflets.”

Wimborne-Idrissi adds that the protests were planned to disrupt the beauty of the music as little as possible.

The Bruch violin concerto was part of the programme, for instance. So “free Palestine!” would be shouted when the conductor was raising his baton at the start of a piece, but not once the violin had started playing.

The disruptions were done to be in keeping with the performance, turning it into a weapon for the Palestinians.

The concert was not aborted. It was the BBC that cut the broadcast — which had never happened before in the history of the proms.

It was an even more successful protest than the previous action at Wigmore Hall.

I suggested that what this party of 30 or more people had done that night at the Albert Hall was not so much to disrupt Beethoven, who featured, but to be true to his spirit.

Fink and Wimborne-Idrissi agree: “Beethoven was a revolutionary.”

Wimborne-Idrissi stresses that the global boycott movement, started by the Palestinians themselves, does not target individual Israelis — and certainly not Jews as Jews.

It targets institutions and aims for equality for Palestinians living in Israel, freedom for Palestinians living in the occupied territories and justice for Palestinian refugees, including the right of return for all those forced to flee their homes since the Nakba (“catastrophe”) of 1948.

Together, these movements hope to win justice for Palestinians — something the UN has signally failed to achieve.