PA head Abbas and Rajoub (L) at a sports event. (Issam Rimawi/FLASH90) (Issam Rimawi/FLASH90)
Abbas Rajoub sports

Counter to the spirit of peacemaking and goodwill, the PA uses sports to promote terror, and to remove ban Israel from international football (FIFA).

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has launched a petition to FIFA, the international football association, demanding it suspend Israel from participation in FIFA sports activities. It is ironic that the PA is making such an aggressive request when in fact it is the PA and Fatah who routinely disrespect the basic values of international sportsmanship and the spirit upon which Olympic sports are founded, as documented extensively by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

The PA’s abuse of sports is a concrete example of how the PA chooses to entrench the conflict rather than working to resolve it, PMW points out. The PA uses sports to send the message that murdering Israeli civilians is honorable and heroic, that all of Israel is “Palestine,” and that peace building or “normalization” with Israel is prohibited and, in fact, a crime.

Sports to Promote Terror

Sports is used as a vehicle to educate Palestinian children that terror against Israeli civilians is heroic. The PA and Fatah have named many sporting events after terrorist murderers, including those who were involved in the most barbaric attacks.

During the Second Intifada, between 2000 and 2005, the PA’s honoring of terrorists through sports increased dramatically. Among many examples, the PA Ministry of Education named a football tournament being held for 14-year-old boys after the suicide bomber who attacked innocent civilians enjoying the Passover celebration in 2002, killing 31 Israelis and wounding 140.

PA glorification of terror continues to this day. Last year, the PA Ministry or Education named a football tournament after the “martyr” Abu Sukkar, who in 1975 detonated a refrigerator filled with explosives in Jerusalem, killing 15 and injuring over 60. In 2015 alone, PMW has so far documented at least 10 tournaments sponsored by the PA or Fatah named after terrorists.

Stone car attack

A Palestinian mob attacks an Israeli car. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

For instance, Fatah ran a “sports festival” named “Martyr Raed Al-Karmi and Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Tournament” in January 2015. Al-Karmi was responsible for the murder of nine Israelis, while Mughrabi led the most lethal attack in Israel’s history, in which 37 civilians were murdered, including 12 children.

One of the principles of international sports, especially the Olympics, is that sports can and should be a bridge for peace. The Israeli Peres Center for Peace, for example, has organized and promoted joint sporting events for Palestinians and Israelis for many years. The PA absolutely prohibits these events and threatens legal measures against Palestinian athletes who participate in matches against Israel, condemning these activities as “normalization.”

After the Gaza War in 2014, the official PA daily printed an AFP report on “Palestinian and Israeli children” who participated in “friendly football matches” organized by the Peres Center for Peace.

The event was an overwhelming success. According to the report, “Ofer, 11, from Sderot, a town in southern Israel where many rockets had landed, said: ‘It’s great to come back here and enjoy our time, after weeks of being stuck at home during the war.’ And [Palestinian] Qusai, 11, said: ‘I love it when we play together like this. I hope that one day there will be peace between Arabs and Jews and that there will be no more wars and death.'”

The PA’s negative response to this activity indicates how adamantly the PA opposes peace. “Abd Al-Salam Haniyeh, Palestinian Olympic Committee member, denounced the match held between Palestinian and Israeli children. He considered it a crime and an unpatriotic and immoral act…. Haniyeh said these matches are completely unacceptable to the sports community, the Olympic Committee, the Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs and the Palestinian Football Association…. Haniyeh demanded that [Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association] Jibril Rajoub immediately interrogate the [Palestinian] organizers of the match, settle the account with them and prosecute them on charges of serious treason.”

Three days later, Rajoub, a terrorist who served time in Israeli prison, viciously condemned the peace-building football matches. He posted on his personal Facebook page: “Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity.”

This is not new rhetoric from Rajoub. In 2013, he threatened on official PA TV to throw anyone off the PA football team who engaged in joint sports activities with Israelis. “Anyone who joins any joint [sports] activity with the Israelis — I’ll take him off the [Palestinian Football] Association’s lists, whether he is a player, coach, judge or, God forbid, a team… I won’t allow and won’t agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel.”

On another occasion, Rajoub stated that “the term normalization does not exist in the Palestinian sports lexicon.”

The Ultimate PA Hypocrisy

Rajoub is also the driving force behind the current PA petition to FIFA to ban Israelis from world soccer.

According to its mission statement, “FIFA’s primary objective is ‘to improve the game of football constantly and promote it globally in the light of its unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values, particularly through youth and development programs.'” Also, “football can inspire communities and break down barriers.”

In 2012, the PA adamantly opposed the implementation of a moment of silence to commemorate the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. The terrorists responsible, in fact, are among those who continue to be glorified by the PA and Fatah. It is ironic that at the time, Rajoub’s reason for opposing the remembrance was, as he stated in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: “Sports are meant for peace, not for racism…. Sports are a bridge to love, interconnection and spreading of peace among nations; it must not be a cause of division and spreading of racism between them [nations].”

PMW documentation clearly shows the irony of the situation. If any team should be suspended from FIFA for fundamental violations of the spirit of sports, it is that of the Palestinian Football Association, PMW says.

By: United with Israel Staff
(With files from PMW)

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