Press Release 25 November 2009
One week today Brand Israel yet again visits Scotland, disgracing the City of Glasgow with the presence of Israel’s ambassadors, Hapoel Tel Aviv.
And Glasgow could not ask for better ambassadors of the state of Israel. Every player will have served in the Israeli military, will have served in the occupied Palestinian territories – where the humiliation, the terrorising, the maiming, the killing of members of a civilian population is now down to a fine, brutal art. Ideal ambassadors, it has to be said, for the state of Israel.
The “luck” of the draw has determined that Glasgow Celtic has the misfortune to face a team which will indirectly seek to present this rogue state as a civilised member of the international community. The state of Israel has quite clearly branded itself as one of the “good guys” in the world, and the job of teams such as Hapoel Tel Aviv is to reinforce this fiction. Make no mistake about it, this match is all about politics, not just sport, no matter what Hapoel T A, the SFA, UEFA and FIFA might say.
While Celtic FC has little option other than to host the match, the fans do have choices and opportunities. As do the media.
At one level, they, along with all football fans in Scotland, can let the SFA, UEFA and FIFA know, in no uncertain terms, that their collusion in supporting the state of Israel’s efforts to brand itself as a civilised state must end. The SFA, UEFA and FIFA know well the nature of the state of Israel. They cannot have been happy when they heard of the bombing to death of 3 Palestinian members of the Palestine national team – Wajih Mushtahi, , Khalil Jaber, Ayman Alkurd – in Gaza earlier this year by a fellow member of FIFA and UEFA. In any other circumstances, the brutal death of three players of a national football squad at the hands of a fellow member state would attract publicity, even controversy – however the victims were only Palestinian, they were ignored.
UEFA and FIFA are also aware that member state, Israel, regularly interferes in the operation of the Palestine national team, whether it be refusing team members to attend training venues, qualifying matches (Singapore 2007, India 2008), play home matches, return home from abroad (Jordan 2007 – players initially refused entry to Gaza) or targeting and destroying their limited training facilities, as in Gaza.
At this point, FIFA could be excused for being unaware of recent events on the West Bank where a purpose built, FIFA, German and French financed football pitch and 8000 seater stadium has just been completed within the boundaries of al Bireh municipality – and which now faces demolition. Building permission was received over 30 years ago from the occupation authorities, yet on November 1 this year, the municipality was told to raze the facility to the ground.
What is inexcusable is the absence of reaction from the SFA, FIFA and UEFA to the killing and maiming of young children, many while playing football on a piece of waste ground oblivious to the nearby sniper watchtowers or the unmanned drones flying overhead, by the state whose ambassadors will disgrace Celtic Park this Wednesday. The list continues to grow
11-year-old Khalil al-Mughrabi was shot dead in Rafah by the Israeli army in 2007 as he played football with a group of friends near Gaza’s razor wire fence. At the end of January 2007, 16 year old Taha Aljawi bled to death from a sniper’s bullet while playing football near the fence of an abandoned airfield. 14 year old Jamil Jabaji, from the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, had been throwing stones at an IDF Hummer. The vehicle was moving slowly, according to the children’s testimony, stopping every once in a while, in what the youngsters thought was a type of provocation, as though trying to lure them closer, until it stopped and two soldiers stepped out, aiming their weapons at them. A death sentence for stone-throwing. Jamal was the goalie of the children’s soccer team in the camp, and a member of the Boy Scouts. The one bullet that entered the forehead and exited at the back of the neck, spelled instant death. (2006) 15 year old friends – Hassan Abu Zeid, Ashraf Mousa and Khaled Ghanem were shot while playing football, near the border zone in Gaza (9 April 2005) Omar Za’ran, 9 years old killed by tank fire 1 July 2004 when playing football. . Three teenagers and an eight-year-old, Yousef Abu Jaza, hit in the knee when soldiers shot at a group of children playing football in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip ( July 28, 2003) Adel Muqanen (17 years) and 11 year old Ali killed by a M16 machine gun on 18 June 2001 when playing football
Remember, as Hapoel’s players run around the pitch on Wednesday evening, you are looking at killers, supporters of a brutal military occupation now in its fifth decade. They, and their mates, have specialised skills rarely seen in a state which considers itself sporting, democratic and civilised. These skills include the humiliation of the young and the elderly at checkpoints – forcing them to wait, without shelter, in all extremes of weather and temperature. Refusing to allow a civilian population access to their farmland – to plant, water or pick their crops. Flinging the old, the young out into the street when settlers demand their houses. Demolishing the houses of Palestinians. Allowing violent settlers to attack the Palestinian population, including young school children, at random. Killing and injuring non-violent protestors protesting Israel’s Wall of annexation, a structure which rips local Palestinian communities apart. Enforcing a vicious siege on Gaza where families are facing another freezing wet winter in tents – a result of the carnage inflicted on Gaza earlier this year and the refusal to allow essential supplies to enter what is now the world’s largest ghetto or concentration camp.
At the risk of repetition, Scottish Friends of Palestine reminds the media that they have a role in questioning FIFA with regard to the membership of a state which occupies the land of others, which prevents a fellow member state, Palestine, from participating equally in the sport FIFA seeks to promote. Crucially it has a role in questioning why a state, which has no qualms in killing and maiming young children as they relax playing the time honoured “footie”, is given membership of FIFA. and UEFA.
On Wednesday many eyes will be focused on the game. Not least those in the state of Israel where any televised propaganda, which this game represents, is an opportunity to project Brand Israel to a wider audience. However it does give the opportunity for fans to show their support for the Palestinian people and help get the message through that Israel’s ambassadors are not welcome in Glasgow. Scottish Friends of Palestine would urge the fans to do just that. What better than a massive show of black, green, red and white – the Palestinian colours – to show solidarity with the Palestinian people? Flags, balloons, T shirts are all effective.
Scottish Friends of Palestine is a firm advocate of the total boycott of all Israeli institutions, academic and cultural bodies and Israeli products – until as such times that the Israeli state ceases to boycott the rights of the Palestinian people, and international law as it pertains to the Palestinian people.
Visit www.easipiesi.org to find out what you can do.
Scottish Friends of Palestine
Scottish Friends of Palestine was formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent attacks on the Palestinian refugee communities. It is an independent organisation with no political or religious affiliations. SFoP supports the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty and the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. These rights have all been acknowledged by the United Nations. SFoP campaigns for immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from all territories illegally occupied, including East Jerusalem. We work for educational, social and cultural links between the Scottish and Palestinian peoples.
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