European Football determined to reward racism
(18/04/2013) – I just received a timely reminder about the UEFA under-21 finals to be held in Israel in June.
Given Israel’s unsporting record and sheer bloody-minded obstruction towards Palestinians’ efforts to participate in a wide range of sporting activity (some listed below in Elizabeth Morley’s email), it is quite outrageous for the British government, brought up on the playing fields of Eton and, one supposes, having had sporting values well and truly beaten into them including the Laws of Cricket, to applaud and reward their racist behaviour.
Subject: Why does HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] support UEFA under-21 football finals being held in Israel?
In Hansard Written Answers for 17 April 2013 we read www.publications.parliament.uk
Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on England’s participation in a European football tournament to be staged in Israel. 
Hugh Robertson: I have had no recent discussions on this issue. This is a matter for the Israeli Football Association and UEFA. The UK Government and the Football Association supports UEFA’s decision to award the Under 21 Championships to Israel.
Please ask your MP to write to Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport, to
complain. You can mention examples of Israel’s football-related atrocities, e.g.:
There are plenty of examples in other sports as well, e.g. most recently the
IDF prevented Gaza runners from taking part in West Bank marathon
Prevents-gazans-from-running-in-west-bank-marathon and Gaza-athletes-banned-from-Bethlehem-marathon
Many of us put the matter to UEFA last October/November. I recall saying that the sport-loving fraternity took great encouragement from UEFA’s commitment to zero tolerance of any form of racism and welcomed President Michel Platini’s assurance that discrimination will be tackled wherever it occurs.
“In this connection I and many others are surprised at Israel’s inclusion in UEFA, and to discover that an Israeli sits on the executive committee. Israel is not even in Europe. Is UEFA membership now open to all Eastern Mediterranean countries? …UEFA is surely aware that the Israelis bombed Gaza’s football stadium in 2006, and in 2004 sabotaged the Palestinians’ efforts to qualify in the World Cup. UEFA will also know that Israel continues its illegal occupation and imposes closures, curfews, travel restrictions and other military and “administrative” measures that have prevented the formation of a Palestinian football league from which a pool of players would normally have been drawn.
“Why UEFA would welcome into its midst a regime that practises such inhuman policies in defiance of international law is an interesting question. But having done so, one is prompted to ask if UEFA has satisfied itself that Israel’s 25% non-Jewish citizens are allowed equal opportunities and facilities to train to a national level in all Israeli sports programmes, and if so that there is no discrimination against Arabs in selecting Israel’s national football teams. Are non-Jewish players included and who are they?
“Also, has UEFA invited Palestine to join and take part? As UEFA’a policy is zero tolerance to discrimination it could hardly invite the one without the other.
“I would be interested to know the views, please, of Mr Platini and the British member Geoffrey Thompson, if you would kindly put these questions to them.”
These questions are still unanswered. But I received a standard bureaucratic response which said: “We are committed to offer all of our 53 member associations – including the Israeli FA – their national teams, clubs and supporters, the opportunity to participate in our competitions and in the development of football across Europe. And it is with this in mind that the UEFA Executive Committee awarded the organisation of the final tournament of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship 2013 to Israel.”
The British minister in question, Hugh Robertson, wasn’t posh enough to go to Eton but at least he’s a playing member of the prestigious MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) so can probably quote the Laws of Cricket backwards. In that case why is his department expressing support for UEFA granting such lofty privileges to apartheid Israel when genuine European countries deserve to enjoy the benefits of hosting the finals themselves?
And if Israel is to be welcomed into Europe’s sporting fixtures, shouldn’t the Zionist regime be required to clean up its act first? Don’t the other nations in UEFA have any self-respect?
Indecent not to sign
I see that only one Conservative MP so far (Peter Bottomley) has signed the following EDM (Early Day Motion) tabled nearly a month ago. As far as honest, decent men and women are concerned the subject matter is unarguable and the motion deserves, surely, the support of all who stand for justice and freedom.
Early day motion 1222 – TREATMENT OF PALESTINIAN PRISONERS
Date tabled: 19.03.2013
Primary sponsor: Corbyn, Jeremy
Sponsors: Peter Bottomley, Gerald Kaufman, Sandra Osborne, Linda Riordan, Margaret Ritchie.
That this House notes with alarm Israel’s ongoing practice of administrative detention wherein many Palestinians are held indefinitely without being charged or being permitted to stand trial; further notes that this practice is in breach of a number of relevant international agreements and conventions including the 4th Geneva Convention and the European law for the prevention of torture or punishment of prisoners; further notes that the policy includes the deporting of Palestinian prisoners from the Occupied Palestinian Territories to Israel and the denial of regular family visits as well as the neglecting of the needs of child detainees; further notes the international community’s lack of substantive action against administrative detention which has led to hunger strikes; and calls on the Government to make renewed and increased representations to insist the Israeli government cancel this policy immediately and restore rights to all Palestinian prisoners.
Total number of signatures as at 18 April: 42 (out of 650)
Is the Tory party really so lacking in ordinary human values? I’ve asked my own MP, Henry Bellingham, if he will add his signature and invite his more timid and backward colleagues to do the same.
In silent solidarity
On Saturday 13 April the Palestine Solidarity Campaign held a conference in London on ‘Gaza Lessons’. The speakers list included well-known names, and the agenda looked useful with a link to speakers in Gaza itself. I thought of going but in the end didn’t. I don’t live in or near London and getting into the city is a perfect pain.
Six days after the event I can find no press releases or any other reports of conference proceedings on the PSC website, only a collection of photos of unidentified people who attended. No briefing paper on the key points covered. No conclusion, action plan or other message to take away from the final session entitled “Challenges and opportunities for the solidarity movement”. In short, there’s damn-all for journalists or writers like me to work on and splash around the media.
Nor is PSC management likely to issue anything anytime soon, according to a phone call I just made to their office.
I’ve long had my suspicions about this organisation, which is why I never joined. There are some incredibly dedicated campaigners in the local branches who put body and soul into it but, it seems to me, they are regularly let down by the centre.
PSC are very good at organising demos and laying on events like the Gaza conference. But they don’t do anything with the result… They go through the motions but fail to drive it home with a firm whack of the media hammer. Have they been infitrated and neutred? I’ve heard members say so, and it would be surprising indeed if this leading pro-Palestinian movement hadn’t been targeted by the Zionist dirty tricks High Command.