Uproar over SA-Israel ‘unholy game’

There are howls of protests amongst Palestinian activists groups who say it is shameful for SA to play tennis with the team from Apartheid Israel in the Davis Cup, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

Activists for Palestine are all set to stage a massive protest against an international tennis match – The Davis Cup – between South Africa and Israel in Gauteng tomorrow.

Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) together with fellow human rights and solidarity organisations has launched a last-ditch attempt to get Tennis SA to cancel the event. However, the organizers of the Davis Cup have indicated that they would not be deterred by the howls of protests, adding that the match would definitely go ahead as planned tomorrow and on Saturday at the Irene Country Club, outside Pretoria. They believed sport should be used as a unifying factor and not a dividing one.

The South African Minister of Sport and Recreation, Thulas Nxesi, said in a statement that he would boycott the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Israel – a country that practiced Apartheid.
“I myself have experienced Israeli discrimination and Occupation when I was denied entry to Palestine in 2012. In response to this and other practices by the Israeli regime against the Palestinians, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many other notable South Africans, have called on the world to support the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.”

In a hard-hitting statement, the national Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) said: “We as South Africans who overcame Apartheid, stand united in our condemnation of Israel for its attacks against Palestinian sports players, the arrests, torture of Palestinian athletes, the denial of freedom of movement of Palestinian sports people and bombing of their stadiums and sports fields. This is in addition to Israel’s routine disruption of Palestinian efforts to import necessary sports equipment and the rampant racism in Israeli sport with its segregated leagues that separate Jewish players from non-Jewish players.

“In this reality where Palestinian children are being tried in military courts, imprisoned, shot at and killed, we cannot allow Israel to run free on our tennis courts.” It asked Tennis SA to cancel “this unholy game.”
The South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) has welcomed the decision by Minister Thulas Nxesi to boycott the Davis Cup.

Judaism

Allan Horwitz, a spokesman for the SAJFP was pleased that the minister had acknowledged that there were a growing number of Jews across the globe who “support BDS and refuse to allow Israel to continue with its oppressive policies in the name of Jews and Judaism.”

“To criticise and boycott the State of Israel, in its current form as an Apartheid society, is not an attack on Jews or Judaism anymore than criticising and boycotting Apartheid South Africa was specifically an attack on Afrikaners or Christians.

Iqbal Jassat, Executive Member of the Media Review Network, told Al Qalam he was shocked that South Africa was playing host to Apartheid Israel. “As oppressed people whose rights to human dignity are trampled upon with impunity by the settler colonial regime, the least (the Palestinian people) expect of South Africa is to stand up for them.
“Our freedom came at a huge cost. It was supported by progressive forces throughout the world. Foremost among them were Palestinians who shared the same trenches with our leaders in rugged battlefields from Libya to Lebanon. The call to isolate SA sports by the anti-apartheid movement rallied people and governments to adopt firm measures.”
Dr Firoz Osman, Executive Member of Media Review Network and co-Author of Why Israel?, said should the Davis Cup go ahead as planned, it would be seen as a slap in the face for all those working to isolate the Apartheid Israeli regime.

“We vividly recall the heroic achievements of HART, (Halt All Racist Tours) and SANROC (South African Non Racial Olympic Committee) who launched various campaigns that eventually led to the dismantling of Apartheid in SA.”

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