Boycott Israel in all sports arenas

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September 4, 2019

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By Ranjan Solomon

Boycotts of Israel are a political tactic of avoiding economic, political and cultural ties with the State of Israel, with individual Israelis or with Israeli-based companies or organizations. Boycott campaigns are used by those who oppose Israel’s policies or actions over Israeli policies in general, or its economy or military in particular.
Boycott campaigns within the Arab world began before Israel became an independent state and continued through the Arab League boycott of Israel. The most prominent boycott campaign presently is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which has gained some traction in the Western world. Israel asserts that these campaigns are anti-Semitic.

In many international competitions, where Israel does take part, such as the Olympic Games, some Arab and Muslim competitors avoid competing against Israelis. Some countries even compel their athletes not to compete against Israelis or in Israel.

Israel’s cultural institutions are part and parcel of the ideological and institutional scaffolding of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid against the Palestinian people. These institutions are clearly implicated, through their silence or active participation, in supporting, justifying and whitewashing Israel’s occupation and systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

When international artists perform at sports meets, they help to create the false impression that Israel is a “normal” country like any other. Sportspersons and artists have endorsed the boycott of Israel, and there is a growing number sports people and even Israelis who support BDS, including the sports boycott of Israel.

The boycott against apartheid South Africa was a very powerful expression of political isolation of Israel. South Africa paid for that era of being isolated. In 1980, the United Nations began compiling a “Register of Sports Contacts with South Africa”. This was a list of sportspeople and officials who had participated in events within South Africa. It was compiled mainly from reports in South African newspapers. The list was aimed to bring moral pressure on athletes. Some sports bodies would discipline athletes based on the register. Athletes could have their names deleted from the register by giving a written undertaking not to return to apartheid South Africa to compete. The register is regarded as having been an effective instrument. The UN General Assembly even adopted the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports on 10 December 1985. A similar approach is needed against Israel and with a sense of urgency.

Ranjan Solomon

2 September 2019