Tag Archives: Gaza

PALESTINIAN ARTISTS URGE – SUPPORT CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

A call has gone out from the representatives of the Palestinian cultural community to  fellow artists worldwide to support the cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

Freedom theatre logo Freedom Theatre logo

statement published on the website of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin says:

“We, cultural workers representing the majority of Palestinian performing art organizations, condemn the current Israeli attack and aggression on Gaza, and the indiscriminate killing and maiming of mainly civilians, among them many children and women.”

It calls upon “fellow artists and cultural organisations” to campaign against the Israeli assault through petitions, protests and statements.

It concludes:

“Further to that, we urge you to act by supporting the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel (PACBI), thereby refusing to be complicit in the ongoing occupation and apartheid.

Together, we can turn hopelessness into determination and the forces of division into unity. It is within our power.”

Read the full statement below and at

http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news/36377/

We, cultural workers representing the majority of Palestinian performing art organizations, condemn the current Israeli attack and aggression on Gaza, and the indiscriminate killing and maiming of mainly civilians, among them many children and women.

As artists, the most powerful weapon we have is our ability to play, dream and imagine. The oppressive forces fear this weapon because as long as we are able to imagine another kind of reality, we have the power to pursue it – a free and just Palestine.

Israel is portraying the ongoing massacre in Gaza as a war between them and Hamas, as part of an obnoxious media campaign of turning the oppressed into the villains. This latest Israeli attack against Gaza is a crime that must be understood within the context of Israeli occupation and apartheid. For over six decades Palestinians have been systematically bereaved of their lands, their water and their freedom of movement. Settlements continue to be built, a wall is erected on occupied lands and Gaza has been under a suffocating blockade for over six years. These crimes must be condemned and acted upon immediately.

Among our companions are institutions that despite all the hardships continue to work in Gaza, using music, theatre and drama to comprehend, process, educate and mobilize. We stand with them and we ask you to do the same.

While governments are once again turning their backs, people around the world are raising their voices; taking to the streets and refusing to let the people of Gaza suffer in silence. We urge our colleagues, friends and partners not to stay silent and join us in our protest.

We call upon the world to put pressure on Israel to stop the blockade of Gaza.

We particularly call upon our fellow artists and cultural organizations to condemn the current aggressions against Gaza and the occupation of Palestine through petitions, protests and statements. Further to that, we urge you to act by supporting the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel (PACBI), thereby refusing to be complicit in the ongoing occupation and apartheid.

Together, we can turn hopelessness into determination and the forces of division into unity. It is within our power.
..

The undersigned, as founding members of the Palestinian Performing Art Programme (PPAN)

Al-Harah Theatre: http://www.alharah.org

The Magnificat Association: http://www.magnificat.custodia.org

The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music: http://ncm.birzeit.edu/en

Al Kamandjati Association: http://www.alkamandjati.com

Theatre Day Productions: http://www.theatreday.org

Yes Theatre: http://www.yestheatre.org

The Palestine Circus School: http://www.palcircus.ps

The Freedom Theatre: http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org

Popular Art Center: http://www.popularartcentre.org/

El Funoun Dance Troupe: http://www.el-funoun.org

Ashtar Theatre: http://www.ashtar-theatre.org

CALL FROM GAZA TO TOM JONES – SING FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE, NOT ISRAELI APARTHEID

Palestinian musicians from Gaza have issued an eloquent plea to Sir Tom Jones, who supported the South African anti-apartheid movement and recent anti-poverty initiatives, to cancel a planned performance in Tel Aviv in October.

“Sing for Freedom and Justice, Not Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing”, the letter says. See full text below and here.

Let’s hope Sir Tom will join Afropop star Salif Keita in cancelling an Israel gig and violinist Nigel Kennedy in denouncing Israeli apartheid.

The campaign details can be found on this facebook page

 To Tom Jones from Gaza: Sing for Freedom and Justice, Not Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing

 28/08/13

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

Dear Sir Tom

We are a group of Palestinian musicians, academics and students from the besieged Gaza Strip in Palestine. Despite Israel’s blockade of our land, air and sea borders we have continued to enjoy the soul, vibrancy and passion of your songs. Israel has deprived us of our homes, our olive groves, our families and communities, our freedom to travel and even our musical instruments. It is for this, from the crowded streets of Gaza’s refugee camps, we are calling on you to cancel your performance in Tel Aviv, the Sun City of the Middle East, this October. We ask you to honour the global call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli apartheid regime, in the same way you and other famous, principled artists refused to entertain apartheid South Africa.

After the United Nations approved cultural boycott was imposed on apartheid-ruled South Africa in 1980, you pledged not to perform there again. It is to your credit that you were persuaded “without much difficulty not to go back to South Africa” by the Welsh anti-apartheid movement.[1] It is in this tradition of refusing to entertain apartheid and racist subjugation that we are asking you to heed the call to boycott Israel until they stop denying us Palestinians our most basic human rights.

 

What Israel is imposing on us has been described by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as, “tantamount to Apartheid”.[2] Israel has violated more United Nations Resolutions than any other country, and a recent report from the UN Human Rights Council recommended sanctions until Israel adheres to international law.[3]

After visiting the West Bank, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that Palestinians are “being oppressed more than the apartheid ide­o­logues could ever dream about in South Africa.”[4] After their long experience in the fight against inequality and racism, is it not enough that Archbishop Tutu and other anti-apartheid heroes are calling for a boycott of the Israeli apartheid system?

If you perform in Israel, be aware that most of your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army. For those of us in Gaza, no matter who we are, we are denied the chance to see you perform by armed Israeli soldiers, Merkava Tanks, Drones, and F16s. We are punished because we belong to this land and hold its identity. Due to these restrictions the vast majority of us have never left the Gaza Strip. The area of Gaza is fifty times smaller than your homeland Wales. Yet our population is half the size, meaning that we are trapped in one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

In the horrific and destructive bombings over eight days last November, Israeli forces killed over 170 people (including 33 children) and injured over 1700.[5] Their crime? Being born Palestinian.

Can you accept 1.7 million of us in Gaza, over half of whom are children, are being collectively punished in what major Human Rights Organizations call, “the world’s largest open air prison?”. Can you accept that Palestinians make up the largest community of refugees in the world, ethnically cleansed from their land but denied the legal right to return home? Can you accept that Israeli policy included banning the entry of musical instruments, such that so many splendid voices of our young could never be heard by the outside world?

 

In June this year in the agit8 concert you joined the call to end poverty, singing “lord help the poor and needy” and “go help the motherless children.”[6] These are worthy aims, and we ask you to join our call to not entertain the country that systematically inflicts abject poverty on our people in Gaza and routinely makes orphans of our children. The 2005 call for the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel is endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society organizations,[7] and has been heeded by a large number of artists and singers around the world such as Roger Waters, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Vanessa Paradis, The Pixies, Faithless and Carlos Santana.[8]

 

What we are asking for is based on international law, endless United Nations resolutions and an expectation to live with the same basic freedoms as anyone else in the world. We demand an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and full equality granted for Palestinian citizens living inside Israel. This is not utopia; it is a call for equality that has been denied to us since Israel was founded on the ruins of Palestinian refugees.

 

When asked, you drew a line on apartheid South Africa. We ask you now to maintain the pressure already set by an increasing number of musicians refusing to perform in Israel until Palestinians get the same human rights and dignity as anybody else would expect. From the Gaza Ghetto, we ask you to heed the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions and to cancel your concert this October 26th in Tel Aviv, the Sun City of the Middle East.

 

Jafra of Gaza Band
Mohammed J Akkila (Singer)
Ismail Harazine (Flute Player)
Rami Abu Shabaan (Musician)
Ahmed Irshi (Singer)
Bashor Bseiso (Musician)
Iyad Abu Lilah (Drummer)
Mohammed Said el-Susi (Rapper)
Osama Said El Susi
Iyad Zumlut (Musician)
Haidar Eid

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTAP)

One Democratic State Group

 

References

[1] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wales-role-ending-apartheid-recorded-4803372

[2] http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5588/un-committee-2012-session-concludes-israeli-system

[3] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/un-inquiry-calls-for-sanctions-against-israel-over-west-bank-settlements.premium-1.500565

[4] http://www.rabbisletter.org/endorsement-by-south-african-archbishop-demond-tutu/

[5] http://www.dci-palestine.org/documents/dci-concludes-investigations-%E2%80%93-children-make-approximately-23-percent-fatalities-gaza

[6] http://www.one.org/us/2013/06/14/jessie-j-tom-jones-and-baaba-maal-amplify-the-call-to-end-extreme-poverty-at-agit8-in-london/

[7] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

[8] http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/roger-waters-calls-for-boycott-of-israel-20130320

 

RED CARD ISRAELI RACISM CAMPAIGN TARGETS UEFA CONGRESS

PROTEST at UEFA’s Annual Congress in London on May 24
SUPPORT Mahmoud Sarsak’s UK tour in May-June 2013
PARTICIPATE in the Goals for Peace tournament on May 19
BUILD the campaign to Red Card Israeli Racism
image
The Red Card Israeli Racism campaign is escalating its activities as the June 5-18 dates for UEFA’s under-21 men’s football final in Israel draw near.
The London-based campaign is now part of a European coalition of groups working to expose the folly of staging a major competition in a state which shows contempt for the rights of Palestinian football players and supporters.  Beyond June, Red Card has the potential to develop into a long-term challenge to Israel ’s membership of UEFA – the overarching body for European football.
The June tournament will probably still go ahead, but the case against it has gained prominence over recent months.  Frederic Kanoute and 51 other leading professional players issued a statement deploring Israel ’s attacks on Gaza in November, saying they called into question holding the games in Israel . In January, a well publicised action at the UEFA offices in Nyon , Switzerland , forced UEFA president Michel Platini to give pro-Palestinian protesters a hearing after two years of turning a deaf ear to the campaign.
In March, the congress of the French trade union CGT-INRA passed a resolution contesting UEFA’s decision to stage the competition in Israel and a former French minister of sport, Marie-George Buffet, wrote to Platini calling on him to hold it elsewhere.
In the UK , football media are opening up space for discussion of the issues, such as this piece on the FootyMatters website, written by members of the student group Football Beyond Borders. It prompted a reaction from the Jewish Chronicle, insisting that UEFA would “stand firm” against our campaign.
FBB has held two well-attended public meetings in London to mobilise support for the campaign.
The Red Card petition now has 6,500 signatures, and rising.
The UK will become the focus of intense campaigning action as UEFA holds its annual congress in London on Friday May 24. A major demonstration is planned for the occasion.
The men’s and women’s Champions League finals will be taking place around the same time and Friends of al-Aqsa are organising a 16-plus anti-racist tournament in east London – Goals for Peace – for up to 20 six-a-side teams.
Mahmoud Sarsak, the national Palestinian team player whose release from unlawful detention we campaigned for last Spring, plans to be in England at that time as part of an extended European tour. He aims to visit Norway , Spain , France , Italy , the UK and Ireland between April and June, meeting players, officials, fans, politicians, journalists and activists.
The intended dates for the English leg of his tour are May 16-26, visiting Scotland until June 8 and moving on to Ireland before returning to his home in Gaza later in the month.
The campaign is working to build support for the tour through mainstream organisations such as FARE (Footballers Against Racism in Europe), Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card, trade unions and faith groups, as well as pro-Palestinian and human rights bodies.
Red Card Israeli Racism was established in London in 2011 by members of PSC, Friends of al-Aqsa and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. It currently (March 2013) has a steering group representing those organisations but is inviting much wider participation to build a sporting boycott campaign alongside other BDS groups around Europe .
Contact: info@rcir.org.uk

TOP FOOTBALLERS CHALLENGE UEFA TOURNAMENT IN ISRAEL

A statement signed by 52  European football players has dramatically raised the profile of the campaign challenging European football’s governing body UEFA for staging its 2013 under-21 finals in Israel.

KANOUTENews of the statement, published on Friday November 30 on the website of former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute (pictured above), was picked up by the Guardian online and then by many other media worldwide (see references below).

The group of UK premier league footballers and players in other major European leagues said that holding Euro 2013 in Israel was tantamount to rewarding it for the assault on Gaza which killed 170 Palestinians in November, including boys playing football. Israeli aerial attacks also destroyed the Palestinian Paralympic Committee offices, along with a stadium and sports complex where the Palestine team prepared for the 2012 Olympics.

The Guardian story explained:

The signatories, who include Eden Hazard of Chelsea, Abou Diaby of Arsenal and five Newcastle players – Papiss Cissé, Cheick Tioté, Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba – also criticised Israel’s continued detention without charge or trial of two Palestinian footballers.

 Several former Premier League players have also signed the letter, including Didier Drogba and Frédéric Kanouté, both of whom now play in China. Players with QPR, Stoke, Blackburn and Ipswich are among the signatories along with footballers in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey.

The statement roundly condemns the Israeli assault on Gaza, describing it as “yet another stain on the world’s conscience” and expresses “solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom”.

It then focuses on the destruction of a football stadium which the Israeli military said had previously been used by Hamas as a rocket launching site but which at the time of the bombing was not.

The statement had originally been signed by 62 players. Ten, including Drogba, dropped out, possibly due to Zionist pressure.

The statement was welcomed by the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign which has been working with activists around Europe to challenge the staging of the U-21 finals in Israel since UEFA announced its decision in early 2011.

Last Tuesday, ahead of the draw for the competition in Tel Aviv, the campaign circulated the text of a statement from a group of public figures including filmmaker Ken Loach saying:  “it is inappropriate for European football’s governing body to be staging international competitions in a country responsible for systematic discrimination against Palestinians.”

Twenty-two British Members of Parliament  have signed a motion (EDM 640) in the House of Commons registering “with profound disapproval . . . that the FA is prepared to participate in the European Under-21 football tournament to be played in Israel in June 2013, even though Israel is geographically not in Europe and is a country which has policies of racial apartheid against Palestinians.”

ACTION:

Call on your MP to sign EDM 640

Sign the petition calling on UEFA to move the Euro 2013 final away from Israel

Links to some of the extensive media coverage:

http://www.agencemediapalestine.fr/blog/2012/12/01/bonne-couverture-mediatique-de-lappel-de-footballeurs-en-soutien-a-gaza/

http://www.tdg.ch/monde/afrique/Les-footballeurs-ne-veulent-pas-d-un-Euro-en-Israel/story/28143281?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

http://www.saphirnews.com/Kanoute-Drogba-Menez-Mandanda-Des-stars-du-football-soutiennent-la-Palestine_a15800.html

http://www.insideworldfootball.biz/worldfootball/asia/11647-gaza-conflict-damages-vital-sporting-infrastructure.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/sport/football/article3616788.ece

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/news/9715577/Premier-League-players-call-on-Uefa-to-remove-Israel-as-European-U-21-hosts.html

http://www.france24.com/en/20121130-top-footballers-urge-rethink-israel-venue

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/1246310/didier-drogba-among-stars-declaring-support-for-palestine?cc=5739

http://itisallaboutfootball.tumblr.com/post/36899657123/european-football-players-declare-support-to-palestine

http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/freddie-kanoute-is-joined-by-hazard-diaby-papiss-cisse-tiote-demba-ba-in-condemning-plans-to-hold-u21-euros-in-israel/

http://www.twtd.co.uk/ipswich-town-news/21988/ellington-amongst-players-in-israel-protest

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-299857-football-players-stand-in-solidarity-with-palestinians-amid-recent-israeli-aggression.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/sports/soccer/soccer-players-protest-european-under-21-championship-tournament-in-israel.html

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/11/30/footballers-sign-statement-protesting-israel-hosting-euro-u21-tournament-after/

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/football/israel-risky-hosts-for-under-21-euro-championships/story-e6frfg8x-1226527893532

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/30/footballers-u21-european-championship-israel

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/footballers-protest-israel-hosting-uefa-euro-u21

http://www.timesofisrael.com/soccer-players-protest-israel-hosting-uefa-under-21-tournament/

FOOTBALL STARS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINE

As Israel prepares to announce the draw for UEFA’s under-21 football finals in June next year, the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign has put out the following news release.
FOOTBALL STARS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINE
+ FREDERIC KANOUTE, MOUSSA SOW, DEMBA BA, JACQUES FATY SAY UEFA IS REWARDING ISRAEL FOR “ACTIONS CONTRARY TO SPORTING VALUES”
+ MPS AND OTHER EMINENT BRITS SAY ISRAEL MUST NOT HOST UEFA UNDER 21 FINALS
Nov 27 – On the eve of the announcement in Tel Aviv of the draw for the Euro 2013 under-21 finals next June, some of the biggest names in European football have condemned Israel ’s military attack on Gaza which killed 170 people, including Palestinian boys playing football, and destroyed vital sports infrastructure.
Former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute is among those signing a statement referring to Israel’s hosting of the U-21 championship as rewarding it “for actions that are contrary to sporting values”.   (See full statement below)
On November 8, 13-year-old Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa was shot in the abdomen by the Israeli military while playing football with his friends in ‘Abassan village, east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis . He died in hospital shortly afterwards. Four other boys were also killed.
The Palestinian Paralympic Committee offices, along with a stadium and sports complex where the Palestine team prepared for London 2012, were among facilities wiped out by Israeli bomb attacks in the days that followed.
A number of football fixtures and gatherings have been moved because of the violence.
Pressure on UEFA to change the venue for the 2013 u-21 finals is mounting as 20 British Members of Parliament have signed a motion (EDM 640) in the House of Commons  stating:
” That this House congratulates the Football Association for its Kick It Out campaign against racism in football; registers with profound disapproval, however, that the FA is prepared to participate in the European Under-21 football tournament to be played in Israel in June 2013, even though Israel is geographically not in Europe and is a country which has policies of racial apartheid against Palestinians.”
Campaigners in a number of European centres are marking the draw in Israel on Wednesday.
Red Card Israeli Racism in Britain has handed in a petition of several thousand signatures.  along with a statement from public figures including filmmaker Ken Loach, calling on the Football Association to support a change of venue for the 2013 tournament. (Text and signatures attached).
UK campaign coordinator Geoff Lee said, “ In addition to the increasing racist violence against Arabs in Israel which is well known to UEFA , the latest attacks by Israel on the besieged people of Gaza must make the UEFA delegates rethink this issue.”
In Italy, a letter has been delivered to the Italian Football Federation calling for withdrawal of the Italian national team from the competition unless there is a change of venue. On themorning of Wednesday, November 28 a protest will be held outside the nationalheadquarters in Rome during which activists have requested a meeting with management.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF FRENCH LANGUAGE STATEMENT SIGNED BY :
Frederic Kanoute, Moussa Sow, Demba Ba, Jacques Faty and others
The horrific situation faced by Palestinian civilians in recent days is deeply concerning. We have learnt that on November 10 the Israeli army bombarded a sports stadium on Gaza . Four young people who were playing football were killed. Mohamed Harara and Ahmed Harara (16 and 17 years old), Matar Rahman and Ahmed Al Dirdissawi (18 years old).
We are also aware that since February 2012 two footballers with the Al Amari team, Omar Rowis (23) and Mohammed Nemer (22) are still imprisoned in Israel without trial or charge.
In the run-up to Israel hosting the UEFA Under-21 European Championship, which will reward Israel for actions that are contrary to sporting values, we as European sportspeople wish to express our regret the turmoil of recent days, the primary victim of which has been the Palestinian people.
We express our solidarity and our support for the civilian causalities. All people have the right to a life of dignity, freedom and security. The Palestinians must be protected by the rule of international law. We hope that a just peace will finally emerge – it is simply unacceptable that children are killed while they are peacefully playing football.
  2. THE STATEMENT IN FRENCH
Palestine , le sport au pied du mur
La situation subie par les civils palestiniens ces derniers jours est plus que préoccupante. Nous avons appris que le 10 novembre, l’armée israélienne a bombardé un terrain de sport à Gaza . Quatre jeunes qui jouaient au football ont été tués : Mohamed Harara et Ahmed Harara (16 et 17 ans), Matar Rahman et Ahmed Al Dirdissawi (18 ans).
Nous savons en outre que depuis février 2012, les deux joueurs de football de l’équipe d’Al Amari, Omar Rowis (23 ans) Mohammed Nemer (22 ans) sont toujours emprisonnés en Israël sans procès et sans jugement.
À la veille où Israël doit accueillir l’Euro des moins de 21 ans, se voyant ainsi récompensé alors qu’il commet des actes qui restent contraires aux valeurs du Sport, nous, sportifs européens, regrettons la situation d’embrasement de ces derniers jours qui a pour première victime le peuple palestinien. Nous exprimons notre solidarité et notre soutien aux victimes civiles. Tout peuple a le droit de vivre dignement, dans la liberté et la sécurité. Les Palestiniens ne peuvent en ce sens être exclus du droit international. Nous espérons que le droit et la justice règneront enfin, parce qu’il est inadmissible que des enfants meurent alors qu’ils jouent paisiblement au football.
Premiers signataires: Kanoute, Moussa Sow, Demba Ba, Jacques Faty
4. Events in Israel cancelled because of the violence:

5. England could host u-21 in 2013 instead of Israel

5. Statement from Ken Loach and other eminent figures calling for UEFA to move under-21 finals from Israel .
 
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIAN FOOTBALL
As football supporters we hear with concern an appeal from Mahmoud Sarsak,http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/mahmoud-sarsak-uefa-appeal-9826 a young Palestinian national team player whose career was cut short by three years’ detention without trial in an Israeli jail.
We are aware that he regained his freedom last July 10, only after a three month hunger strike won him sympathy and support from influential voices in the football world.
Sarsak is asking us now to show our support for all Palestinians who love the beautiful game but who suffer the impact of discriminatory Israeli policies on Palestinian football and the life of the community in general.
We are disturbed by the myriad ways in which the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and the siege of  Gaza  prevent both the development of Palestinian sport at grass roots level and its representation in international competitions. These include:
  • regulations and checkpoints that block the movement of players between Palestinian towns and villages and between  Gaza  and the  West Bank ;
  • official interference preventing the Palestinian national team from travelling abroad to train or compete and making it virtually impossible for foreign teams to attend fixtures in Palestine ;
  • restrictions on the importation of equipment, even when donated by international footballing organisations;
  • prevention of the construction of facilities.
In addition to these impediments, life under occupation entails the constant threat of detention or even death. Two  West Bank footballers, Mohammed Saedy Ibrahim Nemer and goalkeeper Omar Khaled Omar Abu Rowis, were detained in February and have been incarcerated ever since.
Four footballers were among the 1,400 Palestinians killed during the Israeli assault on  Gaza  in December 2008 – January 2009.   Even children are not exempt. On June 20 this year, twelve-year-old Mamoun Zuhdi al-Dam was killed by an Israeli warplane as he played football on land near his family home in  Gaza .
Against this background, Sarsak has drawn our attention to Palestinian dismay at UEFA’s insistence on having  Israel  host next year’s under-21 finals.
He says that staging this, or any other UEFA competition, in  Israel “is legitimising  Israel ’s continued occupation, oppression and apartheid policies. There can be no place in football for segregation and oppression so prestigious tournaments cannot be allowed to take place in  Israel .”
Taking into account the high profile given in European football to combating racism wherever it appears, we agree with Sarsak that it is inappropriate for European football’s governing body to be staging international competitions in a country responsible for systematic discrimination against Palestinians.
We therefore call upon UEFA to move the 2013 U21 finals away from  Israel  and to assure Palestinians that  Israel  will not be granted such an honour as long as its discriminatory practices continue.
Signed:
John Austin
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta
Stephen Cavalier
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Bob Crow
Rev. Garth Hewitt
Ghada Karmi
Bruce Kent,
Ken Loach
Paul Laverty
Kika Markham
Karma Nabulsi
Prof. Steven Rose
Keith Sonnet
David Thompson
Jenny Tonge

HUMANISING THOSE ISRAEL SEEKS TO DEMONISE

Click the caption to read the names and ages of the victims of Israel’s current assault on Gaza.
The letter below has appeared in the Guardian newspaper, along with several others commenting on the attacks. Initiated by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, it has been signed by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and more than 30 individuals including actress Miriam Margolyes, comedian, author and actor Alexei Sayle, writer/musician Leon Rosselson and author Mike Marqusee. (Not all the names appear in the Guardian).

Letter to the editor
As Jewish supporters of Palestinian rights, we have once again watched in horror as Israel escalates its lethal bombardment on the civilian population of Gaza.  Numerous people including children are being killed or wounded.  Israeli casualties came only after Israel, having started the slaughter by killing a 13-year-old boy in Gaza on November 8, shattered a truce by assassinating the Gazan military leader who had negotiated it. So who is the terrorist and who wants peace?

Israel’s political-military leaders cynically escalate the conflict, trying to justify their blockade on Gaza and acting tough in the run-up to government elections. Having turned Gaza into an open-air prison, they again punish the Palestinians for electing leaders who attempt to resist the illegal Occupation.

Too much of our media, the BBC in particular, collude with the official Israeli version: that the attacks are ‘targeted’ retaliation for rockets launched from Gaza. Despite hand-wringing by some Western governments, they encourage Israeli belligerence by labelling Hamas as a terrorist organisation, supporting the Gaza siege and denying Palestinian rights, both within and outside Israel. We support the peaceful campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) designed to help achieve those rights.

ERIC CANTONA JOINS CAMPAIGN TO FREE PALESTINIAN FOOTBALLER ON HUNGER STRIKE

A modest boycott campaign set up a year ago to challenge the awarding of UEFA’s under 21 football championship in 2013 to Israel, has successfully mobilised high profile support for Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, close to death after a long hunger strike in an Israeli jail.
Sarsak, 25, has been refusing food for almost three months in protest at his detention, without charge or trial, since July 2009.
Over just a few days, the Red Card Israeli Apartheid campaign, working together with award-winning filmmaker Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty, mobilised support for a letter berating European government and football bodies for ignoring Sarsak’s plight and allowing Israel to get away with persistent human rights abuses and violations of international law. By Tuesday the legendary Eric Cantona had come on board, along with the UK’s Show Racism the Red Card campaign and several respected patrons of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
A comprehensive news release sent to the media on Tuesday is reproduced below.
From the Red Card Israeli Apartheid CAMPAIGN
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – TUESDAY JUNE 12

ERIC CANTONA JOINS CAMPAIGN TO FREE PALESTINIAN FOOTBALLER ON HUNGER STRIKE
– Football legend Éric Cantona and world pro footballers association call for release of Mahmoud Sarsak, detained three years in Israel without charge or trial
– Footballer near death after 80+ days without eating, one of 308 Palestinian “administrative detainees”
– UEFA criticised for awarding Israel right to host 2013 Under-21 tournament
– Cantona, Show Racism the Red Card, Chomsky, Loach and others slam official silence over Israeli human rights abuses, noting contrast with condemnation of Euro 2012 host Ukraine
Leading sporting, cultural and academic figures, including football legend Éric Cantona, have thrown their weight behind a campaign in support of Mahmoud Sarsak, a Palestinian footballer from Gaza who is close to death after more than 80 days on hunger strike.
Sarsak, 25, was seized by Israeli authorities in July 2009 when he was a promising young star of the Palestinian national team attempting to travel to the occupied West Bank for a game.
The world professional footballers’ association  FIFPro said in a statement  Sarsak, who had lost about 30 kilos in weight, should be released from jail. He had been detained for three years without charge or trial. His family have not seen him since his initial arrest.
The organisation said it is “also very concerned about the situation of many other professional footballers in Palestine. . . .There are stories of other players who have been harassed, arrested or even killed.”
In a letter sent on Tuesday to UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and UEFA President Michel Platini, football legend Éric Cantona, the UK based Show Racism the Red Card campaign, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, John Dugard, Former Special UN Rapporteur on Palestine and film director Ken Loach, among others, called for the same concern to be shown over racism and human rights abuses in Israel as has been expressed over Poland and Ukraine, the Euro 2012 hosts.
They noted that human rights abuses and violations of international law occur daily in Israel, and ask: “why are these same (government and football) groups silent when Israel is to host the U.E.F.A. Under 21s competition in 2013?”
42 Gazan football clubs wrote a protest letter  to UEFA President Michel Platini  a year ago. They have received no reply.
Israeli jails house around 4,000 Palestinian political prisoners, violating Articles 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of occupied peoples (Palestinians), to the territory of the occupier (Israel). More than 300 are “administrative detainees” like Sarsak, held without charge or trial.
The letter concludes: “It is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states”.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1.   Full text of letter addressed to Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, UEFA President Michel Platini and other European government and sporting bodies:
‘We are all shocked at the racist chanting at football matches in Poland and Ukraine where Euro 2012 is being played. Footballing bodies and politicians have been outspoken in their condemnation. Indeed some government officials are boycotting group stage matches in Ukraine because of perceived human rights abuses in that country.
So why are these same groups silent when Israel is to host the U.E.F.A. Under 21s competition in 2013? Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country.
Israeli government ministers respond to mob attacks on black refugees by denouncing them as ‘infiltrators’ and calling for them to be imprisoned in military camps.
Israeli jails house around 4,000 Palestinian political prisoners, more than 300 of them “administrative detainees” held without charge or trial. One of these is a footballer from Gaza, Mahmoud Sarsak, aged 25. He has been imprisoned for nearly three years. No charge, no trial. In desperation, he has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days and is now close to death. He, and all victims of abuse by the Israeli state, need our support.
It is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.’
FULL LIST OF SIGNATORIES, SIGNING IN PERSONAL CAPACITY UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED:
Éric Cantona, actor and former footballer
Noam Chomsky, Professor MIT, USA
John Dugard, Former Special Rapporteur of UN on Palestine, South Africa
Trevor Griffiths, Writer, UK
Paul Laverty, Screenwriter, UK
Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK
Michael Mansfield, QC, UK
Miriam Margolyes OBE, Actor, UK
John Pilger, Journalist, author, film maker, Australia
Show Racism the Red Card (http://www.theredcard.org/news/news-and-events?news=3410
Ahdaf Soueif, Writer, UK
2. Statement from the international federation of professional footballers
http://www.fifpro.org/news/news_details/1954
3. VIDEO: Mahmoud Sarsak’s mother speaks about her son, his imprisonment and his hunger strike
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhF3AUaKgX0
5.  Background information from human rights groups about Palestinian political prisoners 
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/05/israel-still-holds-1000s-of-political-prisoners-including-27-palestinian-members-of-parliament.html
6. Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai denounces black victims of mob violence as “infiltrators” and says refugees should be imprisoned, “all of them without exception.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/31/israeli-minister-racial-tensions-infiltrators
7. Racist football fans on the rampage attack Palestinians in a shopping mall,http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/mar/23/israeli-football-fans-attack-palestinian-shoppers
8. UK and other European governments boycott games in Ukraine because of human rights concerns.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/07/euro-2012-boycott-ukraine-uk-government
9. Appeal from Sarsak’s father and brother, May 24
http://stopthewall.org/2012/05/24/appeal-save-life-mahmoud-sarsak