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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #309 - International, Tour de France: sport to whitewash Israeli apartheid (de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 17 Oct 2020 11:16:51 +0300

The 2020 Tour de France saw the first participation of the Israeli cycling team Israel Start-up Nation created with the aim of promoting the country and legitimizing its policy. ---- This year Covid crisis obliges, the 107 th edition of the Tour de France took place in staggered from 29 August to 20 September. This cycling competition, the most followed in the world, remains a popular sporting event par excellence because of its free admission. If the teams of the runners are generally financed by large companies, one of them denoted by its eminently political character. ---- Indeed, Israel Start-up Nation created in 2015 and present for the first time on the Big Loop, is financed by the Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams who does not hide his desire to contribute to the influence of Israel through sport: " My brand, it is to promote the land of Israel. Is this a diplomatic gesture ? Yes, we are proud of our country. I'm proud to see Israel on the shirts. " Backed officially by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government of the extreme right, the team and his patron had already made about them by integrating in 2018 the Giro (Tour of Italy), publishing the first three of stages were held in Israel, with a big departure from Jerusalem.

A few months after Trump announced the transfer of the United States Embassy to the city, the Hebrew state had succeeded in enforcing the withdrawal by the organizers of the mention " West Jerusalem " as the city of departure on the official map of the course estimating by the voice of his Minister of Sports that there is " only one unified Jerusalem, the capital of Israel " .

A manifest violation of international law showing the stake for Israel of legitimizing its colonial policy through sport. During the 18 other stages of the Giro 2018 in Italy, roadside protesters displayed support for Palestine and the boycott of Israel, visible to tens of millions of viewers around the world.

Colonialist soft power
In parallel, the billionaire also ensures the presence of Israel in Formula 1. It is a real " blue-washing " in all areas which is being established (in reference to the color of the Israeli flag). This " soft power " of the Hebrew state goes so far as to astonish Rudy Barbier, a French runner of the Israeli team when he mentions his first visit to the country: " I expected to do physical tests, things really related to my work, he says. But ultimately, it was purely to let me know the country, with visits to museums, churches, war commemorations ... " [1].

You could call it indoctrination, but instead we hear the words of " positive publicity " from our media around the Israel Start Up Nation which makes runners real ambassadors. And this is likely to continue. Indeed Christopher Froome, British cyclist four times winner of the Tour de France, has just signed up for the Israeli team.

On September 20, in Bazemont (Yvelines), a team from the Libertarian Communist Union deployed a banner denouncing the communication operation under the " Israel start-up nation " jersey .
Yet it is impossible to ignore the discrimination that Palestinians suffer, even in their sports practices. On July 18, five Palestinian cyclists were attacked and injured by Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank. To denounce this participation of Israel Start Up Nation, several actions of solidarity with the Palestinian people took place on the route of the Tour de France 2020.

Blood under the wheels
Through sport, the Israeli government thus intends to normalize and conceal its criminal policy. Recall that last July was to start the annexation of new Palestinian territories in the West Bank provided for by the " Trump plan " (see article in AL of March 2020). While this was temporarily postponed by Netanyahu in order to allow the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, it remains on the agenda. " I brought peace, I will achieve annexation, " the Israeli prime minister recently said.

Ironically, Israel Start Up Nation now aligns itself in major cycling competitions alongside two other major formations linked to states, which are Gulf countries: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with which Israel standardizes its relationships. They are UAE Team Emirates, the team of the winner of the Tour de France 2020 Tadej Pogacar, and Bahrain-McLaren, initiated by Prince Nasser bin Hamed Al Khalifa, a torturer of opponents during the crackdown on the uprising of 2011 [2].

The real news in Palestine continues to be obscured by the Western media:

- The blockade of the Gaza Strip intensified this summer, with the Israeli military bombing the territory for 11 consecutive nights and barring the entry of all goods and merchandise.

- In the West Bank, the Franco-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, already imprisoned for 8 years, arrested again in early July 2020 and then released, has just been notified of an eviction notice from Jerusalem when he was born there !

Basile (UCL 93-center)


[1] " The billionaire who wanted to promote Israel through cycling " on francetvinfo.fr

[2] " A Bahraini prince accused of torture, not worried by France " on Liberation.fr

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