Palestinian sports community appeals to UEFA to stop 2013 football tourney in Israel

The following statement is from Palestinian football clubs, organized under the name, Red Card Israeli Apartheid:

“Sports contact with any country practising apartheid in sports condones and strengthens apartheid” - International Convention Against Apartheid in Sports

ON JUNE 22, UEFA President Michel Platini received a letter signed by 42 football clubs and dozens of team captains, managers and sports personalities in Gaza, demanding that European football’s governing body reverse its decision to allow Israel to host the 2013 international under-21 tournament. The current tournament is drawing to a close in Denmark on June 25.

Occupied Palestine – June 22 2011

Mr. Platini,

We, Palestinian footballers, athletes and sporting organizations and officials, are dismayed that Israel has been rewarded for its continued impunity and violent oppression of our people with the honour of hosting the UEFA Under-21 tournament in 2013. This decision is a drastic reversal of your brave stand just last year against Israeli attacks on Palestinian sport and its persistent violations of universal principles of human rights. You said: “We accepted them in Europe and furnished them the conditions for membership and they must respect the letter of the laws and international regulations otherwise there is no justification for them to remain in Europe. Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour”. We write today to remind you of the facts that no doubt informed this brave stance and to urge you to take steps to ensure that the 2013 tournament does not take place in Israel.

If this tournament goes ahead as planned, football fans from all over Europe and beyond will be given the impression that Israel is a country like any other, rather than one that practices a unique combination of occupation, colonization and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian population. Games may be played at the Ramat Gan Stadium, which was built on land seized under the Absentee Property Owners Law of 1950, from the Palestinian villages of Jarisha and al-Jammasin al-Sharqi. Football should not preclude the refugees from these villages from returning to their lands, as is their UN-sanctioned right.

Israel’s violations of international law are numerous and continue unabated and impact Palestinian football and the people of Palestine more generally. The infamous Israeli permit system, which has been used to deny so many Palestinians the right to travel, is reminiscent of the “pass laws” of Apartheid South Africa, and is used to deny footballers the right to travel to international tournaments, or even participate in local practices, in violation of Article 33 of the Geneva Conventions barring collective punishment.[1]

The use of overwhelming force in Operation Cast Lead in winter 2008-09 was responsible for leveling large swathes of Gaza including the Rafah National Stadium[2], and killing football players Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshate, as well as over 1,400 other Gazans.[3]

Israel’s Apartheid Wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, runs its eight- meter-high solid concrete course less than 100 meters away from the Faisal Al Husseini Stadium in Al-Ram, the current national stadium of Palestine.[4] The arbitrary arrest of thousands of Palestinians, including Gazan Palestinian National Team member Mahmoud Kamel As-Sarsak, held without trial or indeed public explanation for their arrest, is a routine tool of Israeli occupation.[5]

Israel’s system of occupation, colonization and apartheid impacts Palestinian football and all Palestinians.

In the face of South African Apartheid, Ruud Gullit dedicated his 1987 European Footballer of the Year Award to Nelson Mandela. We call upon you to make a similar stand against Apartheid, by ensuring that Israel is not allowed to host the 2013 tournament, rather than allow the organization that you lead to reward Israel for its violent repression of Palestinian rights.

We look forward to your reply,

SIGNED BY:

42 CLUBS

Alwehda (unity) Club-Rafah

Alasteqlal (independence) Club-Rafa

Jamaa’i Rafah Club

Alnuseirat Services Club

Deir Elbalah Services Club

Deir Elbalah Union Club

Alsalah Charity Club

Alwehda Club- Jabalia

Jabalia Youths Club

Beit Hanoun Civil Club

Beit Lahyia Club

Albureij Services Club

Alaqsa Club-Alnuseirat

Almaghazi Services Club

Alnuseirat Sefrvices Club

Alzawaida Youth Club

Jabalia Union Club

Ansaar Jabalia Club

Alkarama Club

Gaza Sporting Club

RafahYouths Club

ALtarabot Club- Deir Albalah

Albureij Civil Club

Alredwan Club

Hetteen Club

Alta3awn (Cooperation) Club

Alwefaq Club

Aljazeera Club

Alyarmouk Club

Alrayaan Club

Albureij Youths Club

Alrebaat Club

Alzawaida Union Club

Almaghazi Youths Club

Alqarara Club

Alataa’ Althahabi Club

Alshaf3′ Club

Alshareqa Club

Canada Club

Alqadessia Club

Tel Alsoultaan Club

Sports College—Al-Aqsa University

18 Club Managers and Players

Ibrahim Abu Salim (Vice President-Football Union)

Captain Hasaan Salah (vice president of soccer players veterans)

Captain Zoheir Edwan (President—Al-Wehda Club)

Captain Joma’ Alakhras (Presdeint-Al Estiqlal Club)

Captain Fathy Abu Ella (Rafah Services Club)

Captain Kamal Alashqar (Nusairat Services Club)

Captain Jamal Albuheissy (Deir El Balah Services Club)

Captain Jaber Ayaash (El Salah Club)

Captain Eissa Zaher (President-Jabalia Youth Club)

Captain Amer Alemawi (President-Beit Hanoun National Club)

Captain Sameer Albarawi(President-Beit Lahia National Club)

Captain Mohammed Abo Shoqwa (President- Bureij Services Club)

Captain Mohammed Zureid (President-Al-Aqsa Club)

Captain Iyaad Alhozoqi (President-Nusairat National Club)

Captain Jalal Abu Zayed (President-Al Zawaida Club)

Captain Mousa Abu Zeer (President-Gaza Sporting Club)

Captain Islam Qeshtaa

Ali Rabei (President-Rafah Jamaai Club)

Plus 19 other Palestinian sporting figures

Naser Dababesh, club head, Al Ahli Palestinian Club

Nather Gaber, coach, Al Repat Palestinian Club

Salah Gber, vice-president, Deir El-Balah Youth Union

Abdallah al Saqa, soccer player, Al Sadaqa Club

Mohammed abu Aita, soccer player, Al Sadaqa Club

Islam Salama, soccer player, Al Beach Club

Iyad al Jiesh, soccer player, Disabled Union

Mazen Sarhan, board member, Disabled Union

Abed Rabo al Tahrawi, board member, Al Redwan Club
Wesam Jadallah, volleyball player, Al Sadaqa Sports Club

Yasser Dawood, volleyball player, Al Sadaqa Sports Club
Asa’d al Majdalawi, volleyball player, Al Sadaqa Sports Club
Khaled Shameia, club head, Al Naser Arab Club
Ali Abu Hasheesh, club head, Al Beach Club

Saeb Jondeya, soccer player, Al Sheja’ia Club
Naim Sweerki, coach, Al Sheja’ia Club
Amer Abu Ramadan, club head, Al Helal Club
Tayseer Abed al Jawad, union head, Handball Union
Ramzi Jaber, sports teacher, Al Aqsa University

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 5 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. stevieb says:

    They should try to get an international petition with international clubs and players signing on.

    There’s no way EUFA should be having a tourney there; in 1992 EUFA used a similar argument that ended with the barring of Yugoslavia from competing in the finals in Sweden. Demark took their place.

    • stevieb says:

      Not to mention Israel shouldn’t be in EUFA anyway.

      It’s time – particularly if Israel wishes to integrate itself in it’s region – to compete in it’s own region for qualifying.

      Yes there would be an outcry if they ever qualified for the WC – but I figure that would be a positive outcome….

  2. Miura says:

    …if Israel wishes to integrate itself in it’s region–to compete in it’s own region for qualifying.

    Integrate itself in it’s region? How can you integrate yourself with those Asiatics when you feel European in your bones? Have you forgotten the words of Theodor Herzl from the 19′th century?

    In Palestine…we shall be for Europe a part of the wall against Asia, we shall serve as a vanguard of civilization against barbarism.

    Sentiments that are part of the subconscious heritage of almost all Ashkenazi Israelis still. “A villa in the jungle” is how Ehud Barak recently phrased the feeling. With such sentiments common as Uzi submachineguns in Israel, maybe they would be better served by bypassing Asia altogether and attempt to integrate instead with their sister European settler colonies Down Under:

    Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia. We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don’t have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not–we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side. Israel has not fully acknowledged the value of working together with Australia in Asia. It’s a way for us to cooperate with and enhance our position in the countries neighboring Australia.

  3. RoHa says:

    “We don’t have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not–we are basically the white race.”

    A statement which really endeared him to the large number of Australians who have yellow skin and slanted eyes, as well as to their non-yellow spouses, friends, and relations.

    Including Albert Tse, who is KevinRudd’s son-in-law.

  4. Stone says:

    Ahh, a topic closer to my heart. Recently, the Israeli government denied several Palestinian players from leaving the OT in order to play an Olympic qualifier against Bahrain. This is against the rules of Fifa. Fifa in the past has punished New Zealand for doing the same thing with some players who were playing for Fiji at the time. Actually, they didn’t allow them into the country. Ahh, but UEFA apparently, does not follow the rules of its bosses when it comes to these things. Also Mr.Rudd hopefully does not appreciate that anyway since he is a speaker of the great language that many of those “slanted-eyed” ones speak. Disgusting racism there. I hope UEFA changes its mind.