About Red Card Israeli Racism
RED CARD ISRAELI RACISM - CAMPAIGN RELAUNCH
From June 2011, the London-based Red Card Israel Apartheid action group worked to challenge the decision by European football's governing body, UEFA, to stage the finals of its 2013 under-21 competition in Israel. For almost a year the campaign built support among active supporters of Palestinian rights but was ignored by the European football authorities.
Then in May 2012, a courageous hunger strike by Palestinian national team player Mahmoud Sarsak, detained in Israel for three years without charge or trial, shone the spotlight on the injustices inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli state. The Red Card campaign was able to enlist support for Sarsak from high profile figures including former Manchester United and France star Eric Cantona. An outcry from international professional footballers' associations, anti-racism campaigners and even FIFA president Sepp Blatter, procured Sarsak's release and highlighted the damage done to Palestinian football by Israel 's discriminatory policies. (Ingrained discrimination in Israel and the Occupied Territories has been condemned by a United Nations body as violating its prohibition on apartheid http://www.badil.org/en/al-majdal/item/1763-art3)
The campaign has resolved to work in partnership with all those in the football world who oppose racism and oppression wherever it occurs. The new campaign name - RED CARD ISRAELI RACISM - reflects this goal.
We believe that the human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians at the hands of Israeli authorities are totally unacceptable and need to be countered.
We are all British or Irish members of organisations that strive to support the Palestinian people: PSC (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign), FOA (Friends of Al-Aqsa), JBIG (Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods), BIN (Boycott Israel Network) and BNC (Boycott National Committee, Palestine).
We believe that sporting activities can do much to improve relations between communities. Yet by admitting Israel to European sporting organisations those organisations directly condone the institutionalised racism in Israel. The Israeli government simply does not conform to European values. Its apartheid policies should disqualify the Israeli Football Association from membership of UEFA. By trying to cut off Israeli inroads into European sporting activities we believe that we can bring pressure on Israel to drop its racism and apartheid policies and laws. In that way the long term future ofIsrael will be ensured and Arab and Jew can live in mutual respect.
We see our work as part of the wider BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activity that was formally established by Palestinians in 2005.
Israel has about 60 established or proposed racist laws (see Adalah), half of which have been proposed in the last three years. It encourages widespread discrimination and practices ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide. Therefore it is not surprising that there is a high degree of racism amongst some Israeli citizens and in Israeli football, both in team selection and on the terraces.
More hidden from view is how Israel’s restrictions on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories penalise footballers. The restrictions have meant that often a full team cannot be brought together. In October 2010 Mr Platini acknowledged this problem and made thinly veiled but unofficial threats to expel Israel from UEFA if restrictions were not removed. In January 2011 Palestinian national coach Moussa Bezaz spotlighted these problems on the FIFA website. When the team goes abroad it brings the danger of a member not being re-admitted without internment, as has occurred. Yet worse, in 2006 Gaza’s stadium was specifically destroyed. In Operation Cast Lead 2008-9 three Palestinian footballers sadly lost their lives.
Yet Israel was admitted to UEFA in 1994 and has its maintained membership ever since.
Israel clearly does not merit membership of UEFA. And it does not merit holding the U21 finals in June 2013.