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Fans of Barcelona basketball team show support for Palestine despite attacks on free speech

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On Thursday March 12, Maccabi Tel Aviv played against FC Barcelona at a Euroleague Basketball match. After four days of tension between Barcelona supporters and FC Barcelona authorities due to the prohibition by the Catalan club on exhibiting any sign of Palestine solidarity, Maccabi Tel Aviv was received by waving Palestinian flags at the Palau Blaugrana (FC Barcelona Stadium). FC Barcelona supporters also carried signs reading “Boycott Israel,” “Boycott Maccabi” and “Free Palestine” while chanting “Palestine.”

In recent years, it has been common to see and hear slogans in favor of freedom of the Palestinian people whenever the Israeli team went to Barcelona. The solidarity of supporters’ clubs with the Palestinian cause has led to a lawsuit being filed against the Euroleague (the Barcelona-based organizer of the competition) demanding Maccabi Tel Aviv be excluded from the European competition.

It has also been common in recent years to see how the security around the FC Barcelona Stadium has been excessively stepped up whenever the Maccabi Tel Aviv team has played there. One of the Barcelona supporters’ clubs, Sang Culé, Cor Català, described in a statement some of the many ways the Israeli team and Mossad, the Israeli secret services, show their power, including searches, the use of dogs and confiscating Palestinian flags.

This year, however, the Catalan police have gone even further: as reported by two of the club’s supporters’ groups (Dracs 1991 and Sang Culé, Cor Català), they announced specific bans, under threat of arrest, on carrying Palestinian flags, displaying signs or banners in Arabic, singing about or mentioning Palestine, or chanting slogans against Maccabi or the State of Israel. Catalan society was quick to show its rejection of these bans and on Thursday morning, the FC Barcelona security manager told the supporters it was going to change the guidelines for this game, allowing Palestinian flags into the stadium and the shouting of pro-Palestinian chants. However, the ban on signs or banners in Arabic was not lifted.

The Stop Complicity with Israel Coalition (CPCI) denounced the repression this announcement represented, as well as the serious attack on freedom of expression it entails: “we believe banning signs in Arabic is a serious act of racism, since it criminalizes and stigmatizes a specific culture. In fact, such a ban is illegal under the current Spanish law against violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sport.”

Furthermore, the opposition to the match between FC Barcelona and Maccabi Tel Aviv by a broad spectrum of Catalan civil society is due to the fact that “it is used to foster a favorable image of Israel, thus legitimizing the occupation, colonization and apartheid in Palestine. Israel is not an example to be followed, not a normal country, as some people try to make out. A boycott of Israel on all fronts (economic, academic, cultural, institutional and sports), just like that employed by the nonviolent struggle against South African apartheid, is a way of forcing an end to the apartheid suffered by the Palestinian people since 1948.”

The BDS Catalunya group and the CPCI regard Maccabi Tel Aviv as an “ambassador” of Israel and deserving of the same treatment given to the Springboks national rugby team when it was subjected to a boycott due to its collaboration with, and role as representative of, the South African apartheid state. The Springboks were unable to play away from home and very few teams visited South Africa. In 1960, South Africa was expelled from the Commonwealth and in 1972 it was excluded from the Olympic games in Munich. The sports boycott endorsed by the United Nations Assembly, the economic and academic boycotts, the tourism and arms sanctions imposed by the UN, and international pressure on the Pretoria government played a decisive part in bringing about the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

For these reasons, 29 organizations (including non-profit and grassroots organizations, unions and fan clubs), as well as most of the left political parties from Catalonia (7 out of 8), which represent a large part of Catalan civil society, released a joint statement demanding that “F.C. Barcelona put a stop to these racist attacks on freedom of expression in its stadium.” In addition, the signing organizations demanded that the Catalan Ministry of the Interior “be transparent in its dealings with the Israeli intelligence agency (Mossad).”

According to the statement, “the secret agreements subordinate our independent organs of government to the orders to foreign power (…). These actions have sacrificed Catalan rights in the period before and after the match, bringing them down to the level of the Israeli state.” Finally, the signing organizations demanded that the Euroleague expel Maccabi from its competition, thereby “avoiding its becoming a showcase for the colonial and racist policies of the State of Israel.”

To read the full statement from BDS Catalunya, click here.

BDS Cataluyna
About BDS Catalunya

BDS Catalunya is a Palestine solidarity group based in Catalonia, Spain.

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35 Responses

  1. just
    just
    March 16, 2015, 10:05 am

    Bravo BDS Cataluyna!!!

    Libertad para Palestina! Viva Palestina!

    1S1P1V!

    • catalan
      catalan
      March 16, 2015, 11:52 am

      Iran, Gaza, Cuba, Venezuela, India/Pakistan,Russia/Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Nagorno Karabakh – tell me one place where boycott/isolation/embargo/demonization/refusal to speak have achieved anything to write home about?
      The truth is that boycotts and isolation lead to hatred and resentment. It’s as simple as that.

      • Qualtrough
        Qualtrough
        March 16, 2015, 10:39 pm

        You left South Africa off your list, and I think most of the readers here know why.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        March 17, 2015, 10:07 am

        Okay, I’ll be happy to start the boycott success list:
        How about United Farm Workers?

      • Atlantaiconoclast
        Atlantaiconoclast
        March 17, 2015, 11:22 am

        The reason boycotts don’t work in those places, is because they aren’t run by completely democratically elected governments. Israel is supposed to be the one democracy in the Middle East. And I do believe that its elections have more integrity than what you would find in those countries you have listed, setting aside the fact that millions of occupied non Jews don’t have the right to vote. But because Israel is a democracy, I hold its citizens directly responsible for the long term crimes of their state. If it was just one or a few isolated crimes, I would give Israelis a pass, but its not, its a long string of pro apartheid anti Palestinian actions that violate the most basic human rights. So that is why I support boycotts against Israel, because Israelis have chosen to elect governments that lie, kill, destroy, occupy, racially colonize, and attack on a regular basis.

  2. Crusty
    Crusty
    March 16, 2015, 10:55 am

    llarg barcelona en viu. Som una [righteous] nació

  3. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    March 16, 2015, 12:27 pm

    Would someone explain to me how the Mossad gets to police football games? And why did anyone thinking banning the flags and signs was going to work?

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      March 16, 2015, 7:29 pm

      I find that claim very hard to believe, tbh. The Catalans are going to allow agents of a foreign state to police their stadium? And of course, by appearing in a very public forum, with TV cameras and thousands of mobile phones, they are effectively outing themseIves and making themseIves targets.

      I know the Mossad aren’t nearIy as sIick as they’re made out to be, but this is beyond even their stupidity.

  4. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    March 16, 2015, 2:06 pm

    RE: “This year, however, the Catalan police have gone even further: as reported by two of the club’s supporters’ groups (Dracs 1991 and Sang Culé, Cor Català), they announced specific bans, under threat of arrest, on carrying Palestinian flags, displaying signs or banners in Arabic, singing about or mentioning Palestine, or chanting slogans against Maccabi or the State of Israel” ~ BDS Catalunya

    WATCH: ■ Catalan Police in Israel: repression courses “Tested In Combat” [VIDEO, 05:40] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPrNmGcIFpY
    CATALAN POLICE TRAINING IN ISRAEL VIDEO February 16, 2014
    “Public security” training in Israel for police from Catalonia – or how to wage war on your own civilian population to protect the investments of bankster criminals!
    SOURCE – http://roblosricos.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/catalan-police-training-in-israel/

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      March 16, 2015, 2:12 pm

      P.S. RE: “Tested In Combat” ~ from the above video on Catalan police training in Israel

      MY COMMENT – Here is a very powerful testimonial regarding the impact of Israel’s “tested in combat” marketing on policing here in the U.S.
      WATCH: ■ An Israeli Soldier’s Story – Eran Efrati [VIDEO, 40:05] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93hqlmrZKd8
      Published on Mar 8, 2014
      The talk by Eran Efrati was filmed in Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2014 as part of The Soldier and the Refusenik U.S. tour with Maya Wind. Eran talks about his experiences in the IDF and then more broadly discusses Israel, its relationship to the U.S. and the global expansion of militarism.

    • just
      just
      March 16, 2015, 2:34 pm

      That was more than chilling, John.

      The ‘best in the world’ terrorists are training regular law enforcement officers from all over the world to fight/kill their own citizens.

      Such ‘civilization’.

  5. jon s
    jon s
    March 16, 2015, 5:36 pm

    They want to expel a sports team because of the politics of the government in the country that the team comes from?
    And this -only in the case of Israel, not any other country where the government violates human rights or pursues aggressive policies?

    Here’s Maccabi:
    http://maccabi.co.il/Team.asp?cYear=2015&lang=en

    • amigo
      amigo
      March 16, 2015, 5:48 pm

      They want to expel a sports team because of the politics of the government in the country that the team comes from?” jon s

      Oh come on, Israel has been begging for attention for 60 plus years.You are finally being heard.

      Quit complaining.

      • jon s
        jon s
        March 16, 2015, 6:01 pm

        Sure, we need the attention.
        Like we need a third armpit.

      • annie
        annie
        March 16, 2015, 11:42 pm

        They want to include a sports team because of the politics of the government in the country that the team comes from. And this -only in the case of Israel.

        why is israel playing in the euro league anyway? aren’t they located in the ME?

        why not meet at the international championships, or not at all?

    • eljay
      eljay
      March 16, 2015, 5:54 pm

      || jon s: They want to expel a sports team because of the politics of the government in the country that the team comes from? And this -only in the case of Israel, not any other country where the government violates human rights or pursues aggressive policies? ||

      Israel isn’t “any other country” – it’s a “Western-style democracy”, a “moral beacon” and a “light unto the nations”. Surely a country with such high moral credentials should be expected to pursue justice, accountability and equality? And yet here we see a Zio-supremacist once again defending Israel using the old “murderers exist, so it’s okay to rape” argument. Interesting.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      March 16, 2015, 7:32 pm

      You’re possibly too young to remember the extensive sporting boycott against Israel’s partner in the ‘war on dark people’. I mean, of course, Apartheid South Africa. But go on, walIow in your ”Why are you picking on poor lil baby Israel” victimhood.

      http://www.inminds.com/img/sa-anti-apartheid-poster.jpg

  6. Kris
    Kris
    March 16, 2015, 5:59 pm

    @jon s: “They want to expel a sports team because of the politics of the government in the country that the team comes from?”

    Um, “the “politics” of the government in the country…”?????? Seriously? It’s more like “because of the ongoing violations of international law for more than seven decades of the government in the country….”

    Thanks for the link to the Maccabi website. It is horrible to see how many of the players are from the U.S. Horrible to be reminded that so many U.S. citizens think it’s okay to pay for their own comfort with the suffering of other people.

  7. jon s
    jon s
    March 16, 2015, 6:10 pm

    This kind of reasoning , if applied consistently , would destroy international sports.

    But the boycotters only want to apply it to Israel. Other countries, who do a lot worse, get a pass.

    • eGuard
      eGuard
      March 16, 2015, 6:33 pm

      South Africa.

      • jon s
        jon s
        March 17, 2015, 2:22 am

        Towards South Africa the boycott was justified, because of apartheid, which included the realm of sports.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        March 17, 2015, 3:30 am

        Jon

        Were non whites in SA restricted to a defined number of calories per day by the apartheid authorities ?
        Were they dependent on international aid agencies for their daily bread ?

        Should anyone running such systems be allowed share anything positive with the rest of the world ?

    • amigo
      amigo
      March 16, 2015, 6:40 pm

      “This kind of reasoning , if applied consistently , would destroy international sports. ” jon s

      Israel,s kind of reasoning will destroy mankind.We can always rebuild international sports.

      Take your pick.

      About your third armpit comment , the stink of zionism does not emanate from it,s armpit.The source of the stench is from deep within.I would suggest it,s soul but that would be inapt.

      It has a certain skunk juice odour about it.

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/israeli-occupied-palestine

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      March 16, 2015, 6:42 pm

      Anyway, what the heck is an Oriental despot-state doing in a European competition? Somehow the logic evades me. Apart from the fact that the Zionists cannot show a single square foot legally under their sovereignty anywhere in the world, whatever they are effectively controlling is not in any way or shape in Europe. That should be enough to expel them even if they were not international bandits.

      • just
        just
        March 16, 2015, 10:56 pm

        It’s beyond me, echinococcus.

        (btw, how did you come by your username?)

      • jon s
        jon s
        March 17, 2015, 2:26 am

        I agree that Israel should compete in Asia. Now all you have to do is to get Asian sports associations to readmit Israel.
        Incidentally, Turkish teams also compete in Europe.

      • Walid
        Walid
        March 17, 2015, 2:38 am

        A tiny piece of Turkey is in Europe, jon, so it can compete in both.
        I think it’s absurd to continue blocking Israel from being in Asian leagues since most of the Arab countries have already normalized relations with Israel.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        March 19, 2015, 3:04 pm

        jon s,
        Want to be admitted in international associations? Start by making a case for legitimacy. In your particular case, it’s more than controversial.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      March 16, 2015, 6:47 pm

      Catalunya was never going to take to Zionism, Jon. No region that was ever untermensched can. All that Zionist caste stuff goes down like a lead balloon in Scotland and Ireland too.
      And politics are cruel. Qatar shouldn’t have got the World Cup but it’s very rich. Sure its hypocritical but you don’t want to be getting into situations where you are exposed as a pariah. I think that’s somewhere in the Torah as well. It’s common sense.

      If Israel gets sports boycotts, tough titty. Try and be nice to Gaza while there is still time.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        March 19, 2015, 3:02 pm

        Just,
        Through my dog.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      March 17, 2015, 5:04 am

      “This kind of reasoning , if applied consistently , would destroy international sports.”

      You say that as if it were a bad thing.

      But, as others have pointed out, the ban on cricket with South Africa was a powerful message of disapproval from the Commonwealth and most of the rest of the world.

  8. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    Maximus Decimus Meridius
    March 16, 2015, 7:35 pm

    Not so long ago, FCB invited ‘kidnapped’ Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit as a guest of honour at the Camp Nou. They also invited the actually kidnapped Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak to ‘balance’ the invite. Sarsak, to his great credit, refused.

    FCB are not on the side of the angels here.

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/protests-expected-fc-barcelona-extends-vip-invite-israeli-soldier-gilad-shalit

  9. jon s
    jon s
    March 17, 2015, 6:32 am

    Speaking of Johan Cruyff, he was seen in the stands last night in Maccabi TelAviv’s league game, probably visiting his son Jordi, Maccabi’s manager.

  10. catalan
    catalan
    March 17, 2015, 4:44 pm

    The reason I left South Aftica off my list of unsuccessful boycotts is that I think the changes there occurred in spite of, and not because of the boycott. Boycotts always affect disproportionately the poorest and least powerful people.
    As to punishing people for how they vote, I think that’s absurd. Not everyone votes the same and a huge number don’t vote at all. Even if someone votes “incorrectly”, where do you draw the line? Should people be deprived of certain foods or certain medications? As someone who has been on the receiving end of power for most of my life, I am against teaching people “lessons”. Mostly, because we get mean when we are attacked. Poverty does not engender nobility.

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