“This is what the Lord Almighty says: … ‘The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.'” (Zechariah 8:4–5)
At the last minute on Friday, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) withdrew its call to suspend Israel from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
The PFA’s Jibril Rajoub ultimately dropped his bid to see the Israeli football association banned from FIFA, after a number of association presidents pressured him to forgo the move.
“Tens of presidents of associations from Africa, South America, North America and Europe said to me that they don’t want to have the precedent of suspending an association,” Rajoub told the FIFA congress on Friday.
“A lot of colleagues who I respect and I appreciate explained to me how it is painful for them to hear in this family about the issue of suspension,” he said. “I decided to drop the suspension, but it does not mean that I give up the resistance.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his official Facebook page that, “The Palestinian move to boycott Israel in the soccer arena and the international arena in general is not due to something we do or do not do. It stems from an opposition to our right to our own state.” (Times of Israel)
FIFA had slated the vote on Israel for its May 29 Congress; however, a bomb threat and chaos instigated by pro-Palestinian protesters delayed the vote on Friday before it ultimately was canceled.
Responding to the bomb threat, Zurich police found the Hallenstadion venue clear of explosives.
The scare came only hours after two women holding Palestinian flags interrupted President Sepp Blatter’s opening address by waving red cards (representing “racism”) at the members and chanting “Israel out!” The women might have broken off of a group of 150 anti-Israel protesters gathered outside. (Times of Israel)
Before the vote was cancelled, Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s opposition to politicizing soccer, saying, “We are taking part in a persistent and just battle against the Palestinian attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Israel and Israeli soccer.”
“No people wants peace and cooperation more than we do.… No democracy faces more challenges than Israel, and none does more to protect the values of morality, pluralism and humanity,” he said.
“Israel is not a perfect state. There is no such thing. But it is a state of values that protects human rights,” he wrote. (Times of Israel)
Netanyahu also warned that FIFA would set a precedent with the ban: “If FIFA harms Israel, it will itself be harmed. … Other states will also use FIFA to settle scores with their rivals and instead of the spirit of international sport that is supposed to rise above politics, we will receive the corruption of soccer by it being subjugated to outside considerations.” (Arutz Sheva)
While Palestinian opposition to Israel’s existence has surfaced in almost every possible arena and field, including sports, business, music, and industry, on Friday Israeli Football Association President Ofer Eini suggested to Rajoub that he “leave politics to the politicians while we play soccer the best we can.”
As a compromise, FIFA’s congress decided to send a FIFA team to the disputed territories to monitor the free movement of players through checkpoints, seek removal of tariffs on imported equipment, and encourage Israel to help build more soccer fields in the disputed territories. (Haaretz)
This vote passed 165 in favor, 18 against.
“The result of talks at FIFA is positive and I welcome the fact that we didn’t arrive at an absurd situation in which a state like Israel would have been suspended from a body whose vocation is, before all, sporting,” Israel’s assistant foreign affairs minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Friday in response.
Meanwhile, Rajoub’s aggressive bid against Israel follows sustained Palestinian hostility toward Israel as well as a habitual glorification of terrorists that have committed acts of mass murder. These so-called martyrs, who in fact are brazen murderers, have been honored by Rajoub himself.
For instance, in late 2013, Rajoub sponsored “the Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Table Tennis Tournament,” where Palestinian Table Tennis Association vice president Radwan al-Sharif described “the glorious deeds of hero Martyr Dalal Mughrabi.” Dalal Mughrabi killed 37 Israeli civilians in a 1978 bus hijacking, including 12 children, and wounded 71 more. (Ynet)
The honoring of murderers by the Palestinian Authority has continued to this day. This April 13, Al-Ayyam wrote that Fatah’s “Jerusalem branch” had organized a table tennis tournament named after “Martyr Abu Jihad (Father of Struggle),” who participated in the 1978 bus attack.
Al-Wazir, who was a co-founder of the secular nationalist party Fatah and Head of the PLO terror organization’s military wing, murdered at least 125 people.
Both terrorists, Mughrabi and Al-Wazir, are listed on Fatah’s official Facebook page as a role model for university students. (Palwatch)
When not praising murderers, Rajoub has shown himself averse to peace. In September 2014, Rajoub himself decried a soccer match organized by the Peres Center for Peace for Israeli and Palestinian (non-Israeli Arab) children to play together; Rajoub called the match “a crime against humanity.” (Palwatch)
“Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity,” Rajoub said at the time, insisting on September 8, 2014, that “all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities, especially because their recurrence would arouse disgust and aversion towards all members of the [Palestinian] sports community.”
Rajoub emphasized that “for a while now the Palestinian sports leadership and community—the Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association—have opposed” activities that involve participation from Jews and Israelis.
Israel’s judo team faced similar opposition in Morocco at the International Judo Federation’s World Masters tournament. The Israeli judokas were attacked with calls of, “We will murder you” and “You’re not wanted here; go home.”
The judo team was in for a rough time even before the competition. Their security team from the Israeli Shin Bet security service refused to accompany them into Morocco due to the volatility there against Israelis. When the team landed in the Moroccan airport in Rabat, it was held for eight hours.
The Judo competition website also excluded the Israeli flag and name, and the team’s Israeli flag was not raised at the sports venue after their performance. (The Blaze)