Last month, Human Rights Watch released a damning report emphasizing that soccer’s governing body, Federation International du Football (FIFA), should render a decision on Israel Football Association (IFA) teams that are being played on occupied Palestinian land. FIFA was expected to render a decision whether to suspend or expel six Israeli teams at at an executive meeting earlier this week, but in true FIFA form, the executive committee fouled and postponed their decision despite suggestions from special committee members, open letters from UN officials, and from academics and activists, an Avaaz.org petition that garnered over 150,000 signatures, the HRW report, and an on-going digital campaign that calls for justice in sport. The oppression of Palestinian football by Israel is a hot-button issue for FIFA- which makes a profit from the matches and sponsorships of the IFA teams. While Israeli teams flourish, Palestinian football is hardly thriving due to a lack of resources, crumbling infrastructure, and unjust mobility restrictions on teams.
It was presumably intended as an Israeli history lesson to the world. A video posted to social media by Israel’s foreign ministry shows an everyday Jewish couple, Jacob and Rachel, in a home named the “Land of Israel”. A series of knocks on the door brings 3,000 years of interruptions to their happiness. First it’s the Assyrians, followed by the Babylonians, Hellenists, Arabs, Romans, Crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans – all straight out of Monty Python central casting. The chauvinism in portraying Jacob and Rachel as the only normal folk, stoically enduring barbarians butchering each other in their living room, is ugly enough. But it is harder still to take seriously an account in which the Palestinians suddenly appear out of nowhere in 1948, as Britain departs.