Encouraging athletes to boycott tournaments or competitors based on their national identity is against the spirit of sportsmanship outlined in every major sporting event’s bylaws.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The Palestinian Authority has launched an intense public outreach campaign aimed at shaming Arab athletes who compete under the Israeli flag and encouraging Arabs to boycott Israeli sports, according to a new report from Palestinian Media Watch.
Bibras Natkho, who is of Circassian Muslim descent, currently captains the Jewish State’s national soccer team, and Iyad Halabi, a Muslim swimmer, recently won Israel’s first gold medal in over two decades at the Paralympic Games.
But according to the PA, these success stories should not be cause for celebration; rather, they argue that these Muslim athletes – both of whom are Israeli citizens – should refuse to play under the Israeli flag out of principle.
“Participating in teams of the occupation clubs is a confirmation and legitimization of the occupation entity and ignores the racist positions against Jerusalem, its people, its clubs, and its sons,” reads a statement from the PA obtained by PMW, which likens Arab participation in Israeli teams as akin to betrayal.
“Moreover, your participation in the Israeli clubs and in the framework of [Israel’s] association tournaments is recognition of it and of its existence inside the city and on the land of Palestine…It is our duty to contact the parents of the male and female athletes and to speak with them, wake them up, and bring them back to the straight path.”
PA-sponsored posters aimed at preventing Arab athletes from participating in Israeli sports obtained by PMW depict a soccer player, with text reading: “When you play with a team of the occupation, you become like it.”
Another PA poster glorifying a boxer from easternJerusalem who refused to compete against Israeli athletes contained text which read, “No to normalization in sports.”
Encouraging athletes to boycott tournaments or competitors based on their national identity is against the spirit of sportsmanship outlined in every major sporting event’s bylaws, including those of the Olympic Games.
PLO Supreme Council for Youth and Sports chief Jibril Rajoub was recently fined and suspended by FIFA for incendiary comments which violated the soccer organization’s policies against inciting violence and hatred.
Rajoub previously called a soccer match between 11-year-old boys from Israeli and Palestinian teams a “crime against humanity.”