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(en) Israel - Ireland match provides a chance for solidarity with people of Palestine by Dermot - WSM *

Date Wed, 25 May 2005 13:17:07 +0300


A Clear Case of Off-Side
In June, Israel come to Dublin to play against the Republic as
part of a European group World Cup qualifiers. As much as we
might seek to escape via football, football does not escape the
realities of the world. Israel is a state where racism exists and is
rife. We can send a message of solidarity and support to the people
of Palestine on that Saturday in June
Marx said that religion was the opium of the people but sport has
eclipsed man's fascination with the supernatural. Football is the
heroin of sport. I can remember the first time I stood with my
father on a terrace and watched men chase a bag of wind around a
field. I still can be found standing on those steps in all sorts of
weather.

In June, Israel come to Dublin to play against the Republic as part
of a European group World Cup qualifiers. You know this already!
What you probably don't know is that the man who scored the
equaliser for Israel in Tel Aviv is called Abus Suan, and he is
subjected to racism in his homeland because he is an Israeli Arab.
He plays for a team called Bnei Sakhnin, in the town of Sakhnin.
This team is unusual as they have 12 Arab, seven Jewish and four
foreign players and a Palestinian president. They play their games
19 miles from their town, and when they show up to other games
they are subjected to chants like “death to Arabs”.

As much as we might seek to escape via football, football does not
escape the realities of the world. Israel is a state where racism
exists and is rife. Barriers are not broken down in this place, in fact
it's busily erecting a wall around the Palestinian community there.
The wall is being built with the help of the Irish Company –
Cement Roadstone.

Football is supposed to be about breaking barriers down. We can
send a message of solidarity and support to the people of Palestine
on that Saturday in June. We can let the Israelis know that we
don't have any truck with their systematic killing, torture, and
oppression of the Palestinian people. We should let them know we
are against the criminalisation of young people who refuse to serve
in the executors of this oppression, the national army. We do not
tolerate racism in our football grounds around the country, we
should certainly not tolerate the inhuman attitude of the Israeli
state towards Arabs.

While the football team of Israel is attempting to qualify for the
world cup in the European qualifiers, Palestine compete in the
Asian qualifiers. They have no stadium, very little money, and the
players from Gaza are frequently prevented from travelling by the
Israeli authorities. They were not allowed attend a training camps
in either Egypt or Hungary, despite protestations from FIFA. When
they make it to the playing field it is an achievement in itself. As
the General Secretary of the Palestinian FA says "It is amazing to
see the colours [of our flag] outside our land... It is also a great
challenge for the Israelis and their checkpoints. We are saying, 'We
are here, we can reach Spain, Chile, the whole world.”
------------------------------------------
This article was originally to be published in Workers Solidarity 86
but production delays mean it will not appear until after the match.
http://struggle.ws/wsm
==================================
* WSM is an Irish anarchist organization

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