Indonesia’s tennis team boycotts Apartheid Israel
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Indonesia’s tennis team boycotts Apartheid Israel

The Indonesian women’s tennis team, scheduled to play a Fed Cup play-off in Israel on the 15th and 16th of July, have pulled out of the tie in an act of solidarity with Palestinians. The Indonesian Tennis Federation (PELTI) and government officials from the foreign and sports ministries decided to boycott the games after the Occupation’ s military aggression and massacres of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Indonesia had asked some months ago to move the play offs to a “neutral” country, yet the request was not fulfilled leading to speculation that the games would go ahead in Tel-Aviv. By boycotting the play offs, the Indonesian Tennis Federation will have to pay a large fine and will be de-classified from World Group II.

However, in front of the current war crimes of the Occupation, the Indonesian ministries and PELTI have decided to remain steadfast to the countries long standing anti-normalization policies. The Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Desra Percaya told the press: “We are witnessing a military invasion by Israel and the arrest of scores of Palestinian officials. It is now impossible to play there.”

The government decision has been backed by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which is part of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s ruling coalition. The party had led calls for Indonesia to boycott the tennis matches. The decision to forfeit the competition was widely applauded in Indonesia, where the Palestinian cause has the staunch support of the wider public.

Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, has never had official diplomatic relations with Israel. Yet, despite the absence of official diplomatic links, Indonesia has long had business and military ties with the Occupation, although often shrouded through third countries.

Indonesia bought unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel in 1996. Earlier reports state that Indonesia procured Israeli Air Forces (IAF) surplus Skyhawk fighter-bombers. The ex-Suharto regime also purchased Israeli Uzi guns and other weapons through Mossad-linked arms trader Shaul Eisenberg.

Moreover, according to some reports, Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, under the cover of a business office, has been present in Jakarta for many years. Other claims include that Indonesian officers have been trained in Israel in anti-terrorist methods, and intelligence agencies of both countries have been exchanging information since the late 1960s.

Former president Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid attempted to open official bilateral relations with Apartheid Israel in 1999, but was rebuked by political opponents as well as members of his own party. He is a member of the Shimon Peres Foundation.

New pressure has been placed on Indonesia from the US and the Zionist lobby to normalize relations with the Occupation and to create official and economic ties. The symbolic move to boycott the tennis play offs in Tel Aviv needs to be followed by a clear commitment that relations with Apartheid Israel remain off-limits and that clandestine ties, both economic and military, should be severed.