The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has launched calls for a sports boycott of Israel, as its national team look set to take on the Apartheid state in the qualifying stages of the World Cup.
Activists from the Republic of Ireland, a country with its own struggle against colonialism, note how Israelâs participation in the Cup serves to legitimise the occupation and daily war crimes against the Palestinian people. They have called upon the Irish team to take the moral initiative against Apartheid Israel, engaging in a similar strategy used to isolate the equally racist regime of South Africa in the 1980s.
Anti-Apartheid activists noted that, âDuring the 1970s and 80s Irish sporting fans showed their opposition to Apartheid policies by boycotting sporting events with South Africa. Like the Dunnes stores’ workers who refused to handle South African produce, we refused to give legitimacy to Apartheid by boycotting the Springboks tour.â
They went on to criticise the weak stance of the current Irish government on Israel: âOur government has been cowardly in its refusal to demand sanctions against Israel. It’s time for the Irish people to demand justice for Palestine by boycotting the March and June soccer matches. Empty seats and a major protest outside will show the Israeli Government that there is no place for Apartheid in the 21st century.â
The Irish activists have distributed pamphlets during recent international friendly matches informing supporters about the crimes committed every day in Palestine, and the political implications their presence at the games will have. A boycott of the games will sharpen attention on Apartheid Israelâs illegal occupation and continuing colonisation of the Palestinian people and their lands.
Fans have responded positively to the calls but activists have met with opposition from the head of the Irish Football Supporters Association. They have bluntly brushed the calls for boycott aside noting they found no âgrave issueâ with the games going ahead and maintained âpolitics should be kept off the football fieldâ. Yet, campaigners called on Irish supporters not to be used as political pawns by a criminal Israeli regime, who show a total disregard for International Law, and continue to build an 8 metre high Apartheid wall on stolen Palestinian land, while at the same time, pretending to engage in peace talks.
Solidarity activists from other countries in the qualifying group, Switzerland, France and the Faroe Islands, have also begun mobilising public condemnation against the worldâs last Apartheid regime. Campaigners hope that if the matches cannot be called off, supporters will show solidarity with Palestinians who are nearing their 60th year of illegal Israeli occupation. That will mark how there is no place for either racism or Apartheid Israel in football. The Republic of Ireland are due to play Israel in Tel Aviv on the 26th of March with the return leg in Dublin scheduled for the 4th of June.