JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
Former South Africa Government Minsiter Tokyo Sexwale in Palestine to Discuss Racism in Sports
05 May 2015
Anti-apartheid activist, Robben Island Prisoner, former South African Government Minister and prominent businessman Tokyo Sexwale departed from Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo Airport yesterday evening en route via Jordan to Palestine. Sexwale is travelling to Palestine as the President of the anti-racism campaign, Global Watch
Global Watch is a brainchild of Sexwale and is supported by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, South Africa’s ANC party as well as several other organizations and groups.
Speaking at OR Tambo Airport Sexwale said: “The objectives of the visit is a listening visit and also a fact finding mission to understand the problems that are prevailing around sporting issues in particular in reference to Palestinians and Israel and where we can paly a role as Global Watch... its unacceptable that a situation prevails within Palestine and between Israel of hostility that also finds itself on the sporting field. Part of our mission, we will be working with Mr Blatter... and members of FIFA."
He went on further to explain that: "[I will] have initial discussions with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Football Association to understand what their objectives are, what their feelings are… it’s a fact finding and also a listening exercise”.
Sexwale was invited to Palestine by Palestine Football Association (PFA) president Jibril Rajoub. Rajoub is due to seek Israel's expulsion from FIFA later this month. Last year in 2014 Rajoub agreed to drop a FIFA resolution urging delegates to take up sanctions against Israel at FIFA's Congress in Sao Paulo but Rajoub has now indicated that he would press ahead with the same proposal in Zurich on 29 May 2015. Rajoub said he "would not make concessions" because nothing has improved in the way Israel is "persecuting Palestine footballers, athletes and the movement of sporting equipment...enough is enough…Israel is still behaving like the neighbourhood bully, or worse.” Palestine has already tabled its motion and it is on the Congress agenda (www.insideworldfootball.com/fifa/16935-exclusive-no-compromise-rajoub-stands-firm-on-israeli-suspension-demand
The Palestinian Embassy in Pretoria confirmed that Sexwale is on a 2-day fact-finding mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Abdel Hafiz Nofal, the Palestinian ambassador to South Africa welcomed Sexwale’s visit to Palestine saying: “To have someone of the stature of Comrade Tokyo Sexwale in Palestine is a privilege, it’s an extension of our historic relationship between Palestine and South Africa. Our officials in Ramallah will brief Sexwale on the current state of Palestinian sport and sporting bodies. Sexwale is also expected to have discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and President of the Palestine Football Association Jibril Rajoub.” Nofal further indicated that Sexwale will visit the gravesite of former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader, Yasser Arafat.
Kwara Kekana of the Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa also welcomed Sexwale’s visit saying: “We trust that our counterparts in Palestine will brief Comrade Tokyo on the various BDS sporting campaigns including the campaign led by PA Minister and President of the Palestine Football Association Jibril Rajoub to have Israel expelled from FIFA later this month.”
Tokyo Sexwale was received earlier today in Jordan by the Palestine Football Association (PFA) president Jibril Rajoub, before travelling to Ramallah in Palestine via the King Hussain bridge, avoiding entry via Israel’s Tel Aviv airport.
BACKGROUND TO SPORT IN PALESTINE
Palestinians have for a long time accused Israel of on-going attacks and interference in their sport. Earlier this year, on 31 January 2015, without warning, Israeli forces attacked two young Palestinian athletes on their return home from football training in al-Ram in the central West Bank.
Israeli forces shot the Palestinian athletes repeatedly in the feet, unleashed attack dogs that mauled their arms and legs and dragged them hundreds of feet on the ground, beat them and broke their knees. The Palestinian youths, cousins Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, will never play competitive sports again. http://mondoweiss.net/2014/03/vicious-palestinian-athletes#sthash.pRarnPw6.dpuf
Among the victims of last year’s Israeli bombardment of Gaza was a Palestinian football legend. Ahed Zaqout is remembered by some as possibly “the best midfielder Palestine ever had”. Israel shelled Zaqout's house in Gaza as he slept and the former star turned TV commentator became another “statistic” amongst the 2014 victims of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.
Some 32 sports facilities also succumbed to Israel's bombing of Gaza in 2014. During the 2006 bombardment of Gaza, Israel bombed the Palestine Stadium. FIFA later provided funds to support the stadium's reconstruction after which it again smouldered under the force of Israel's bombs in November 2012.
JOINTLY ISSUED BY BDS SOUTH AFRICA AND PALESTINIAN EMBASSY IN SOUTH AFRICA
Embassy of the State of Palestine to the Republic of South Africa
809 Government Avenue, Arcadia, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 79 702 7303
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa
10th Floor, Braamfontein Centre, 23 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 (0) 84 211 9988