Earlier this week, Manchester United football legend, Eric Cantona, wrote a joint letter slamming Israeli "racism" and questioning Israel's hosting of the 2013 UEFA U21 Championships:
"Why are…[people] silent when Israel is to host the UEFA Under 21s competition in 2013? Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country…it is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states."
Man. United Football Legend, Eric Cantona, and others (12 June 2012)
>>> Sign and spread the petition appealing to our Minister of Sports and Recreation, Comrade Fikile Mbalula, to join us in calling on UEFA to reverse its decision to host its U21 championships in Israel: www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/uefa <<<
Cantona's joint letter was written in support of Palestinian footballers and others who are being illegally detained, without trial, by the Israeli regime, including the 25 year old Mahmoud Sarsk. In 20009, Sarsk was on his way to play a football match when he was arrested by the Israeli army, he was just 22 years old. He has been detained for nearly three years now, with no trial and no charge. Today, as we commemorate Youth Day, the young Sarsk is on the 92th day of his hunger strike (for exactly 3 months he has taken no food) in protest of his illegal Israeli detention. He is slipping out of consciousness and is very close to death but Israel has refused him proper medical care or a fair trial. Click here for Amnesty International's Press Release.
Two days before Cantona's letter, FIFPro, the international association of professional football players
, also issued a statement demanding that Mahmoud Sarsak be released from prison. Philippe Piat, FIFPro’s vice-president said: "[F]reedom of movement is a fundamental right of every citizen...but actually for some footballers it is impossible to defend the colours of their country. They cannot cross the border. They cannot visit their family. They are locked up. This is an injustice."
And on Tuesday, in a rare challenge to Israel, FIFA's President, Sepp Blatter
, expressed his "grave concern and worry" for Palestinian soccer players who are being held in "illegal detention" by Israel. In an official FIFA statement, Blatter said: "FIFA urgently calls on … [the Israeli authorities to ensure] the physical integrity of the concerned players as well as their right for due process."
Meanwhile, the boycott against Israel gains momentum:
On Tuesday, 5 June, the Arizona State University (ASU) student government in the USA voted to divest from companies involved in Israeli human rights abuses
. This is not the first time that ASU has divested from companies supporting human rights abuses. In 1985 Arizona public universities supported divestment from apartheid South Africa. We salute them for their consistency...
University Boycott Victory:
On Wednesday, 6 June, the student Cafe at the prestigious American University, The Evergreen State College, formally announced its decision to boycott all Israeli goods
, becoming the most recent business to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Cultural Boycott Victory:
This Monday, 11 June, it was announced that after being called on by fellow artists and human rights workers, Zakir Hussain, one of the world's "most influential" Indian musicians has canceled his upcoming Israeli gigs.
Cultural Boycott, Prominent Israeli Composer and Conductor:
Gil Shohat, the Classical Music Advisor to the Israel Festival has publicly admitted that the cultural boycott of Israel is working
, he said that "there are choirs and opera companies which are not interested in coming to Israel. Even if they don’t say it’s because of the political issue, they prefer not to get involved in such a sticky situation. As a composer active on the world scene, I can testify that more than once projects have been cancelled or postponed based on their ‘Israeliness.’ And again - these things are not said crassly, no one will say: we are conducting a boycott. The word boycott doesn’t exist, but the political situation of Israel also impacts this field."
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