Monday, August 23, 2010

Protest against Apartheid Israel at Bray World Cup Qualifier

"Although no two countries or struggles are identical there can be no doubt that the success of the anti-apartheid movement and the BDS (Boycott Divestment & Sanctions) campaign that helped bring down apartheid, can be emulated with regard to apartheid Israel and the struggle of the Palestinian people.  The BDS campaign against the colonial, racist zionist state of Israel - guilty in fact of far worse crimes than apartheid South Africa - must be advanced and sustained with all the energy and unity we can muster." - Ronnie Kasrils, former South African MP and National Executive member of the African National Congress (ANC)

This Wednesday (August 25), the Irish Women's soccer team are set to play the first leg of  a  World Cup qualifying tie against Israel at the Carlisle Grounds in Bray, the home of League of Ireland side Bray Wanderers.  

This is the second Israeli side to play in Ireland in recent weeks.  Just last month Shamrock Rovers played host to Israeli side Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv FC at Tallaght Stadium in a Europa League Qualifier.  On that occasion a protest to highlight the continued occuption of Palestine and to support the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and supported by éirígí, the Palestinian Rights Institute (PRI) and the Irish Anti War Movement (IAWM), was held outside the ground.

Once again, the IPSC have organised a demonstration, which will take place in two parts at two diferent locations in Bray.  The first stage of the protest takes place at the Bray Royal Hotel from 5.30pm as the Israeli Embassy are hosting a pre-match meal and reception there.  Following that, the protest will move on and continue outside the Carlisle Grounds from 7pm, with the game kicking off at 7.30pm

As on the previous occasion at the Shamrock Rovers game, the theme of this protest" will also be "Love Football - Hate Apartheid".  Banners bearing that slogan as well as 'Unity Against Occupation' and  'Boycott Israeli Apartheid' will be on show at the protests alongside Palestinian national flags.

According to the IPSC, the protest will call for a sporting boycott of Israel due to the racist and apartheid nature of the Israeli state. This is in support of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) who have confirmed this match falls under their Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) guidelines.

Announcing the protest, IPSC National Chairperson Freda Hughes said: “Israel is a racist apartheid state with a human rights record worse than that of Apartheid South Africa. It continues to defy United Nations Security Council Resolutions and breaches International law on a daily basis. It is long past time that Israel was shown that there is a heavy price to pay for its human rights abuses, war crimes and continued denial of freedom to the Palestinian people.”

Ms Hughes added: "While some may suggest that sports and politics shouldn't mix, we believe there is no place in sport for racism or teams who act as ambassadors for racist or apartheid states.”

Ms Hughes continued: “Attempts by the Palestinian national soccer team to participate in International competitions are consistently hampered by Israel. Travel restrictions including refusing players exit visas as well as a complete ban on travel between the West Bank and Gaza makes training virtually impossible and has led to cancelled internationals. In 2006, Israel bombed their stadium in Gaza and three footballers were murdered during their month long attack on the strip last year.”

Ms Hughes concluded: “The IPSC are urging people to join the protests, to take a stand against Israeli apartheid and to show their solidarity with the people of Palestine. We are also urging Irish fans not to travel to Israel for the second leg of this tie. Similar to the International boycott of the Apartheid South African regime, Israel must be boycotted completely, including all sporting events such as this upcoming game. The Boycott helped end South African apartheid. It can be used again to help end Israeli apartheid and secure freedom for Palestine.”

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said that while Israeli apartheid and the denial of freedom for Palestine continued, a complete ban on participation by Israeli individuals and teams in sporting events similar to that which was imposed on apartheid era South Africa must be imposed.

Expressing support for the protest, Casey said:  "Human rights abuses, the illegal siege of Gaza and the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land continues unabated.  Israel has seized further Palestinian lands through the building of their illegal wall.  The West Bank has half a million Israeli settlers living in illegal settlements, joined together by a network of special "Israeli only" apartheid roads, access to which is denied to Palestinians.  There are more than 600 military checkpoints across the West Bank, through which Palestinians need identity cards to get from one village to another."

 He added:  "While Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine continues, then it is essential that the boycott of Israel be not just maintained, but expanded and intensified.  As well as economic and diplomatic  sanctions, Israel and Israeli teams and individuals, must also be completely blacklisted and banned from participation in all international sporting events just as apartheid era South African sports teams and individuals were banned."

Casey concluded:  "Wednesday's demonstration is a chance for people to once again stand with the Palestinian people and against the racist apartheid Israeli regime.  While the Dublin government shamefully refuse to take any action against Israel despite their war crimes and their kidnapping and brutalisation of Irish citizens, the message needs to be sent to Israel that those who represent that apartheid state are not welcome in our country."

For more information on the protest and the activities of the IPSC click here

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