‘It’s what happened in South Africa': Palestine seeking sanctions against Israel at FIFA Congress

Israel/Palestine
on 37 Comments
Kick Israel out of FIFA (graphic Stephanie Westbrook)

Kick Israel out of FIFA (graphic Stephanie Westbrook)

As FIFA’s upcoming Congress draws closer ahead of this summer’s World Cup, the relationship between Israel and Palestine has only gotten worse. Palestinian Football Association Chairman Jibril Rajoub says Palestine will be moving forward with their plans to seek sanctions against Israel when the Congress meets in San Paulo on June 9-10. 

Speaking at the Soccerex Asian Forum on the Dead Sea on Tuesday, Rajoub said Palestine had made efforts; “we tried to change” but that Israel had not been cooperating with a Task Force established last year by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Rajoub explained, “They cannot keep behaving like the neighbourhood bully, violating all the statutes of FIFA and the Olympic charter and rejecting any good intention either from UEFA, FIFA, the AFC, Palestinian FA or any other interested third party”.

According to Reutersfollowing the arrest of yet another Palestine footballer earlier this month (Sameh Moraebe, 22, which we reported hereand the unconscionable attack (and subsequent arrest) by Israeli forces on footballers  Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, Chairman Rajoub “gave little hope for improvement” between now and FIFA’s Congress:

“There have been two disastrous events. Last week our national team was in Qatar in camp preparing for the Asian Cup and when they came back the Israelis arrested one of the players and now he is in jail with no reason,” he said. 

“I am sure they will release him in a week or two so why arrest him in the first place? 

“The other event was the famous story that they shot and injured two athletes who had to go to Jordan for treatment for three months. Then they came back and arrested them,” Rajoub added. 

“I don’t think that such a policy should pass without sanctions, without being punished. 

But the final straw came when Israel sent a letter stating they were “ready to develop sport in Palestine”, but only under their purview!

Rajoub is also upset the Israelis recently sent a letter to Blatter which said: “We are ready to develop sport in Palestine but this should be done through our channels”. 

It was the final straw for Rajoub who told Reuters: “That implies we were affiliated to Israel. 

“It means they are not recognising the very existence of Palestinian sporting entity. This is the substance of the problem and for us I don’t think anything will happen. 

If you could see their national sport you might be less keen to see their cricket by Anti-Apartheid Movement London, UK, 1970 or possibly late 1969 (Graphic: African Activist Archive)

“If you could see their national sport you might be less keen to see their cricket” by Anti-Apartheid Movement Poster
London, UK, 1970 or possibly late 1969 (Graphic: African Activist Archive)

 

Rajoub continued; “It’s what happened in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. It means this is an excuse and I think this is enough for us to ask for sanctions” 

It’s about time. Yes, it’s apartheid.

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

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37 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    May 14, 2014, 2:21 pm

    How odd that Palestinian FA should seek sanctions BEFORE PA goes to ICC. But one small step at a time, I guess. And maybe “sport” sanctions TODAY will catch Israeli attention in a different and more profound way than ICC condemnations of politicians DAY AFTER TOMORROW.

    • Les
      May 14, 2014, 7:01 pm

      You may not be aware that Abbas has chosen not to apply to join the International Criminal Court.

      • wes
        May 15, 2014, 5:16 am

        Les says

        “abbas not to apply”

        Abbas cannot go to icc due to the suicide bombing campaign against israeli citizens in 2001 onwards.the slaughter of innocent civilians both israeli,arab and foreign tourists will always be a stain on the plo.not saying that israel is any less guilty of war crimes,imho.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 16, 2014, 10:59 am

        Abbas cannot go to icc due to the suicide bombing campaign

        hmm, is this your hunch or are you just speculating?

      • Hostage
        May 16, 2014, 11:45 am

        Abbas cannot go to icc due to the suicide bombing campaign against israeli citizens in 2001 onwards.

        Let’s try this one more time. 1) The ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction over any crimes committed before July 2002, when the Rome Statute entered into effect; 2) When Palestine filed its own self-referral in 2009, Abbas already accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction for any crimes committed on the territory of Palestine since July of 2002 by any anyone, including himself. Read the Declaration of the Palestinian National Authority recognizing the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, executed for the Government of Palestine by Ali Khashan, Minister of Justice, January 21, 2009. link to iccforum.com

      • Naftush
        May 15, 2014, 6:58 am

        For good reason. If he joins, he will expose his government to liability for every rocket out of Gaza, every subsidy paid to families of suicide bombers, and every theft of donor funds, to think of only three.

      • Hostage
        May 16, 2014, 12:00 pm

        For good reason. If he joins, he will expose his government to liability for every rocket out of Gaza, every subsidy paid to families of suicide bombers, and every theft of donor funds, to think of only three.

        Not to spoil your fantasy, but making welfare payments to families of criminals is not an ICC offense. In any event, Abbas already accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC for any crimes he committed, back in 2009. So please explain why you think he won’t do it again? Needless to say, the flood of Israeli lawsuits never happened back then and they are pretty much a hasbara no show nowadays too, because there is no such thing. In order for the government of Israel to make a referral, it would have to accept ICC jurisdiction for any crimes committed on territory that’s subject to its jurisdiction or committed elsewhere by its own nationals, just like Abbas did. I don’t think Livni would advise them to do that, since there is no immunity or legal challenge available under the law in Great Britain against an ICC arrest warrant.

      • Hostage
        May 16, 2014, 12:24 pm

        You may not be aware that Abbas has chosen not to apply to join the International Criminal Court.

        He doesn’t have too. The parties to the Rome Statute granted third party states the right to accept the jurisdiction of the Court on an Ad Hoc basis under Article 12(3) and did not grant the Prosecutor statutory authority to decline or reject written declarations on their behalf or without obtaining their consent, in accordance with the rules contained in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

  2. jon s
    May 14, 2014, 2:45 pm

    As I recall, South Africa at the time practiced apartheid in the realm of sports . Whites and blacks could not compete , or play on the same teams, which was a compelling argument for banning SA from international events. That’s not the situation in Israel.

    • Inanna
      May 14, 2014, 8:22 pm

      I think the fact that the usual hasbara brigade can respond to a story like this defending Israel rather than having any kind of condemnation for the treatment of Palestinian athletes (and Palestinians in general) by Israel shows that their credibility, moral, intellectual or otherwise. is zero.

      • Hostage
        May 15, 2014, 4:26 am

        I think the fact that the usual hasbara brigade can respond to a story like this defending Israel . . .

        For those who are interested in the whataboutery employed by Hasbara Central and its operatives regarding labor conditions in Qatar, host of the 2022 football World Cup, that government has ended its system of sponsoring foreign workers and proposed the adoption of reforms recommended by the international labor organizations. See Qatar to end sponsorship system for foreign workers link to saudigazette.com.sa

      • Ellen
        May 15, 2014, 9:45 am

        Hostage, it will be ended, but has not been ended yet. It still has to go through a ratification process and no time frame for this is given.

        Also, based on the information to date, it is to be replaced by a system of five year contracts between employees and employers. But the details of this are still being worked out.

        In spite of an increased number of “inspectors,” enforcement of laws is hardly existent.

        Foreigners in Middle Eastern Countries, including Israel, remain vulnerable to abuses.

        But things are getting slowly better.

      • Hostage
        May 15, 2014, 11:06 am

        Ellen I was merely pointing out that it’s our turn to engage in whataboutery. Qatar went through the motions and responded to criticism directed toward its situation, while Israel has not made a similar proposal to ease the travel restrictions and eliminate abuse and discrimination it directs towards Palestinian athletes. The key reform in Qatar will allow workers to leave the country, within 72 hours, without the need to obtain their employer’s consent. Many complained that they were being worked without pay, in return for their room and board, and that they couldn’t leave to find work elsewhere to support their families without obtaining permission from the companies that were exploiting their condition of servitude.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        May 15, 2014, 11:51 am

        ”that government has ended its system of sponsoring foreign workers”

        While I agree with you on the whataboutery, that is simply not true. The government has made a vague proposal about ending the sponsorship system, pending ‘approval by the parliament’. In other words, they are probably hoping that they can string this out for a while, and when international attention shifts elsewhere – which it will – give up the whole thing.

        Having lived in two Gulf countries, including Qatar, I highly doubt that there will be any significant change to the sponsorship system, as that is the basis of employment law not only in Qatar, but in most if not all of the Gulf states. This sounds to me like just another PR tactic concocted by one of the expensive London law or PR firms the Qataris hire to spin things on their behalf. I of course hope that it leads to genuine reforms, but knowing the Gulf states as I do, I highly doubt it will.

      • Hostage
        May 16, 2014, 12:38 pm

        While I agree with you on the whataboutery, that is simply not true. The government has made a vague proposal

        If you read the link that I supplied above, you’ll see the portion of the proposal to end involuntary servitude to the employer is not vague:

        The Qatari reforms, which need to be submitted to the emirate’s consultative council and chamber of commerce and industry before being adopted, will also end the longstanding requirement that foreign workers obtain their employer’s consent before leaving the Gulf country.

        “The current exit permit system, which requires the employer’s consent for an employee to leave the country, will now be replaced with an automated system through the Ministry of Interior,” the statement said.

        The new system will automatically grant an exit permit to an employee “after a 72-hour grace period prior to departure,” it said.

      • Hostage
        May 16, 2014, 12:53 pm

        I highly doubt that there will be any significant change to the sponsorship system, as that is the basis of employment law not only in Qatar, but in most if not all of the Gulf states.

        Yes, the article notes that Bahrain abolished the system in 2009, but Kuwait dropped reported plans to follow suit in 2011.

    • eGuard
      May 15, 2014, 7:12 am

      jon s: As I recall, South Africa at the time practiced apartheid in the realm of sports . [...] That’s not the situation in Israel.

      1. So you are saying: no apartheid by Israel in sports. Then, outside sports, they do? Thank you for confirming.

      2. Read the post. Q: Why cannot a Palestinian football team play a friendly against Israel? A: Because Israel prohibits it for being non-Jewish.

  3. seafoid
    May 14, 2014, 3:03 pm

    I wonder when comedians are going to target Israeli apartheid

  4. chet
    May 14, 2014, 3:11 pm

    Without question, the average Man On The Street in any country in the world except the US and Canada will have more interest in the Israel – Palestine – FIFA issue than in any number of TV spots, articles and op-eds about the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.

    The worldwide media will cover the dispute and hopefully in doing so, will bring to light the general brutal Israeli treatment of the Palestinians in addition to those specific to soccer — although the story regarding the two Palestinian players maliciously having been shot in the legs will generate the most coverage.

    • jon s
      May 15, 2014, 7:45 am

      If you want to ban all the countries with poor human- rights records – by all means, good luck with that.
      On the other hand, athletes from Iran and from some other countries consistently refuse to compete with Israelis, in defiance of international rules and norms. They are the ones who should be banned.

      • Hostage
        May 16, 2014, 1:22 pm

        If you want to ban all the countries with poor human- rights records – by all means, good luck with that.

        That’s whataboutery. The 60 state parties to the UN’s “International Convention against Apartheid in Sports” don’t have to ban or sanction all countries with poor human rights records, just the ones that practice apartheid. link to www1.umn.edu

  5. unverified__5ilf90kd
    May 14, 2014, 4:11 pm

    The ADL reported today that 26% of the world’s population is anti-semitic. This is a striking result. I personally do not think that this is hatred or even dislike for all Jews; I think that it is based on an intense loathing for Israel because of the despicable and undemocratic strategies they have used to steal the Palestinian’s land and resources. There is a serious level of hostility against Jews because of this as discovered by the ADL, so I think that Israel should work fast to address the problem.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 14, 2014, 6:49 pm

      This is a striking result.

      therefore an average person would consider whether there’s any truth in the ‘finding’

      I personally do not think that this is hatred or even dislike for all Jews; I think that it is based on an intense loathing for Israel

      therefor it’s not anti semitism.

      There is a serious level of hostility against Jews because of this as discovered by the ADL

      ha! “discovery”?

      Israel should work fast to address the problem.

      don’t hold your breath.

    • RoHa
      May 14, 2014, 10:45 pm

      “The ADL reported today that 26% of the world’s population is anti-semitic. This is a striking result.”

      I’m astonished. I thought it was supposed to be 100% of us.

      Apparently Laos is letting the side down. Only 0.2% have anti-Semitic attitudes. This probably represents the proportion of Laotians who
      (a) have heard of Jews,
      (b) know what Jews are,
      and
      (c) care enough to have an opinion.

    • Citizen
      May 15, 2014, 7:59 am

      The ADL’s report noted that the most anti-Semitism comes from the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. Sure takes a lot of chutzpah to characterize resentment by those (also Semitic) imprisoned and discriminated-against people as anti-Semitic.

  6. Krauss
    May 14, 2014, 4:19 pm

    Expelling Israel out of FIFA will be tougher than the sporting boycott against Apartheid-SA, simply because Israel has a lot more lobbyists and billionaire backers. But we’ll get there.

    As for Zionism re: Jewish life, I think this could be seen as a telling article:

    link to haaretz.com

    According to one of the communal New Zealand leaders, Zionism is now a dirty word in the country and the Jewish community has skipped any mentions of Zionism in their organizations.

    Note, too, that the same kind of brazen behaviour from the Israelis(stealing passports from New Zealand nationals) was sharply rebuked and Helen Clark’s left-wing government at the time essentially frozed relations with Israel.

    That’s the benefits you get by not having a significant Zionist lobby. Take heed, America, UK and Australia, take heed.

  7. Zach S
    May 14, 2014, 4:26 pm

    Being on the Palestinian national football team doesn’t grant you immunity from the consequences of your own actions.

    The truth about the “unconscionable attack” on Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya has now come to light (while Mondoweiss’ story about it has yet to be corrected), and in time the whole story about Moraebe will be as well. The only question then is if Annie will cover it.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 14, 2014, 6:43 pm

      no i will definitely not be covering that islamofascist elder of zion twist on the story. just because the boys were standing months later doesn’t mean it never happened.

      • Zach S
        May 15, 2014, 9:16 am

        “Standing months later?” I’m not familiar with that allegation. I was referring to this picture of Jawhar in his hospital bed (released by the PA) the day after the shooting:

        link to pbs.twimg.com

        As you can clearly see, he hadn’t been shot even once in the foot, let alone eleven times. If he had actually been shot eleven times in the foot, he wouldn’t have a foot.

        Rajoub claims they were treated in Jordan. Does Jordan have Hebrew writing on the sheets?

        link to 4.bp.blogspot.com

        Who are you going to believe, him or your own lying eyes?

      • Annie Robbins
        May 16, 2014, 11:14 am

        (released by the PA) the day after the shooting:

        really? by all means link to that release dated feb 1st. (not to be confused with a link alleging it was released the next day) btw, here is link to google drop where you can trace the dates this photo has been published: link to images.google.com

        Rajoub claims they were treated in Jordan…Who are you going to believe, him or your own lying eyes?

        anyone following the story knows they were first treated at the hospital in jerusalem (Hadasa) and then transferred to a hospital in jordan.

        here is a duplicate of those photos and others, link to xssportpal.blogspot.co.uk

        see the captions, the first one

        “Johar, right after he was assaulted by Israeli soldiers-Hadasa hospital”

        second one: “Johar, after his transfer to a Palestinian hospital”

        possibly link to palestinehospital.org.jo in amman.

        so show me evidence the second photograph was released “the next day” after the attack.

      • Zach S
        May 16, 2014, 11:36 am

        So if you’ve read the Palestinian sports blog, you know the pictures of Jawhar are legit. Unless it is hasbara too?

        We can also look at Jawhar’s Facebook to find another picture of him in his hospital bed, with a perfectly intact foot:

        link to fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net

        Unless you’re going to claim that that isn’t him?

        link to facebook.com

        Let’s not get bogged down in the details, Annie. The point is: you said that Jawhar had been shot eleven times in the feet. Everyone with eyes can see that isn’t true. So are you going to issue a correction in your article?

    • eljay
      May 15, 2014, 7:37 am

      >> Being on the Palestinian national football team doesn’t grant you immunity from the consequences of your own actions.

      I agree. And being a Jew – or a “Jewish State” – shouldn’t grant you immunity from the consequences of your own actions. The time is long overdue for Zio-supremacists to be held accountable for their past and ON-GOING (war) crimes.

  8. Citizen
    May 14, 2014, 4:33 pm

    Uh, Sperling is da newz–minus his rabid Jewish racism in US media. I think Sperling is an excellent stand-in for the US government’s view of the Middle East. You?

  9. eGuard
    May 14, 2014, 4:38 pm

    FIFA 1973. In the qualification rounds for the 1974 World Cup (the final tournament in West Germany), two countries were to play for one spot: Chili vs. Soviet Union. First match in Moskow, 26 September: 0-0. Return match: planned 21 November 1973 in Santiago de Chile, Estadio Nacional. That is, ten weeks after the coup by Pinochet (9/11 1973).

    The National Stadium in Santiago was used as a concentration camp for political prisoners. Before the match, is was emptied. Soviet Union asked to play in a neutral location. FIFA refused, Soviet Union decided not to fly. Chili “won” the match, and so went to play the final tournament in Germany. FIFA, in certain ways you can depend on them.

  10. Ellen
    May 14, 2014, 4:40 pm

    FIFA is massively corrupt. If they cared about human rights or anything at all beyond sacks of $$ around football (soccer) they never would have given Qatar the World Cup nor pretend that the State of Qatar is modernizing employment conditions and freedom of movement.

    Am afraid it will more than this letter to the crooks at FIFA.

    • piotr
      May 14, 2014, 5:39 pm

      As corrupt as FIFA is, it may be better than ICC.

    • ritzl
      May 14, 2014, 6:59 pm

      @Ellen- I agree on the corruption, but have to disagree on the similarity with what Israel is doing.

      As bad as Qatar is, and it’s bad, it’s outside of FIFA’s domain. In a non-corrupt world, FIFA would not award the championship to Qatar because of widespread social “problems” in that country. But what Israel is doing targets FIFA and the game itself. FIFA can’t (well it can, of course) ignore that without invalidating its own reason for existence.

      In addition to all the Qatari-like “problems” that Israel imposes on the Palestinians, it ups the ante by directly (and violently, ffs) targeting international players, coaches, associations, and venues. That’s a direct assault on the international game. It’s tough to see how that can be overlooked.

      Expanding out a bit, this article shows one minor example of the confusion and challenges in the whole 1S-2S discussion. The PFA director doesn’t want Israel running the show, but that’s only relevant in a 2S outcome. In a 1S outcome, toward which the Israeli insistence on directing/assimilating PFA affairs is just/yet another step, the odds and abilities of Palestinian players getting through a heavily-rigged Israeli football association and onto the 1S national team are vanishingly slim.

      Tough times ahead.

      At the risk of being repetitive (yet again…I know I’m a minority on this), these kinds of national representation/pride issues are what a Palestinian State in Gaza could or would untangle. It could take them off the list of pressing civil rights and daily life issues that an Israel-WB 1S will be devoting its full energy toward solving, and give Palestinians something to rally around in the process.

      FWIW.

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