‘Murder’ chants hurled at Israeli athletes, team members detained at airport, tournament refuses flag
Competing in the World Masters Judo Tournament held this weekend in Rabat, Morocco, Israel’s Judo team was reportedly greeted by audience members with chants of “We will murder you” and “You’re not wanted here, go home.”
That was the icing on the anti-Semitic cake for the traveling Israeli Judo competitors. Upon arrival in Morocco, the Israeli team reportedly had their passports confiscated and were held in a small room without food, water or even chairs for nearly nine hours.
In addition, the Israeli flag was absent from the venue where the event took place, while the flags of all other participating countries were represented. And the Israeli flag was a no-show on the tournament’s official website, which also lacked any mention of Israel’s participation in the official Judo event.
The Israeli team’s inhumane detention at the airport was at first justified by the Moroccan authorities by citing what they claimed was the delegation’s alleged lack of visas. However, Israel’s Ynetnews website reported the Moroccans changed their story, saying a gun had been found in the luggage of one of the contestants.
The team, which spent much of their time lying uncomfortably on the floor, was only released from the holding room after Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponti asked Marius Vizer, the president of the International Judo Federation’s executive committee, to intervene.
According to reports, Vizer threatened to cancel the entire competition unless the Israeli team was released. That dictate apparently worked. The airport authorities released the team and provided guards from the Moroccan king’s security unit.
Notably absent from the sports venue where the event took place was the Israeli flag. A Judo Federation board member reportedly asked that all flags be removed from the facility.
Spectators reportedly booed each Israeli athlete, and held [so-called] Palestinian flags while hurling insults at the athletes.
Yarden Gerbi, an Israeli Judo participant, wrote on her Facebook page that “what happened in Morocco is a shame.”
“As an Israeli I feel ashamed to wait 8 hours at the airport, I feel ashamed to hear the crowed [sic] boo me and my teammates and want us to lose — and why? Because we are Israelis.”
Gerbi stressed that “We came for sports, pure sport, not politics. It’s an embarrassment for Morocco and the organization.”
Ironically, this mistreatment comes as the Palestinian Authority is attempting to have Israel booted from a prestigious international soccer federation, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, in a move that could have a dramatic impact on Israel’s ability to compete in international soccer competitions.
As part of a larger boycott movement against Israel, the PA’s Palestinian Soccer Association has filed a formal complaint with FIFA to have Israel’s membership suspended.
The PA’s main complaint is Israel does not allow freedom of movement for Palestinian soccer players to travel from the West Bank to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip through Israel.
The Israeli government says it would be a security risk to allow any Palestinian soccer player to travel freely from the West Bank or Gaza within Israel, explaining terrorists could easily take advantage of any such accommodation.
The PA further wants FIFA to suspend five Israeli soccer clubs located in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which the Palestinians claim for a future state. The five clubs play in the third and fourth FIFA divisions.
Terrorist presses to boot Israel’s soccer team
The PA’s Palestinian Soccer Association chairman is Jibril Rajoub, a former top aide to the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the past leader of several major Palestinian militias. Rajoub has been serving as the point man between the PA and FIFA.
In 1970, Rajoub was sentenced by Israel to life in prison after he was arrested and convicted of throwing a grenade at an Israeli army bus near Hebron. Part of his conviction was because of his membership in a Fatah-associated terrorist organization.
He was released from incarceration in 1985 as part of a prisoner exchange with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which had kidnapped three Israelis.
Less than two years after his release, Rajoub was arrested and convicted two more times on terrorism-related charges, including membership in Fatah terrorist cells and planning attacks.
He was deported to Lebanon in 1998, where he quickly became a top adviser to Fatah deputy leader Khalil al-Wazir, who at the time was coordinating an anti-Israel intifada.
Head of Arafat’s ‘security force’
After Wazir’s death, Rajoub became a close associate and adviser to Arafat.
Rajoub returned with Arafat to the West Bank after the signing of the 1994 Oslo Accords, which established cantons of territory to be governed by Arafat’s PLO.
Rajoub became head of Arafat’s Preventive Security Force, which was repeatedly implicated in attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
Many members of the Preventive group doubled as members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Fatah’s so-called military wing.
The brigade is a terrorist organization responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and other deadly attacks on Jews.
Aside from his soccer duties, Rajoub heads the Palestine Olympic Committee.
In June 2012, he protested a request for a moment of silence to remember the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics, calling the request “racist.”
Rajoub said in a statement it is “clear that the Israeli Soccer Association is not willing to recognize the PFA as a federation with equal rights and obligations, just as they continue to violate their commitments made before FIFA.”
“We are therefore determined to continue our path to suspend the Israeli Soccer Association during the next FIFA Congress,” he said.
Israeli Soccer Association Chief Ofer Eini called the Palestinian request to suspend Israel “an attempt to mix politics and sport, and there is no place for this within FIFA.”
“It is clear to me that most FIFA members understand very well the intention behind this Palestinian move and the destructive impact it would have on the agency,” Eini said.