Cardiff kicks off the FAIR PLAY FOR PALESTINE football campaign

Cardiff kicks off the FAIR PLAY FOR PALESTINE football campaign

PSC Honorary President Betty Hunter (on the right in the picture, with Baroness Jenny Tonge) chaired this conference to mark the start of a campaign in Wales to Kick Israel out of UEFA and FIFA.  It was attended by 80 people in Cardiff on Saturday 28th March, just hours before Wales beat Israel 3 – 0 in Haifa, and has been reported in http://www.cultnoise.com/give-israeli-racism-the-red-card/.

The conference agreed to work across communities , trade unions, faith organisations and political groups to build for a massive display of protest on Sunday 6th September 2015, when Israel will play Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Ray Davies veteran campaigner in Wales against apartheid South Africa and Israel opened the conference suggesting that similar action was required to achieve Palestinian rights.  He outlined the stark injustices suffered by Palestinians, based on his experience over seven visits.

Palestinian writer and commentator, Ramzy Baroud  called for us to challenge the “illusion” of a peace process, when Israel had no need to change and the Palestinian Authority enjoyed its privileges.  He stressed the need to bring unity across the various Palestinian factions through new leadership.  He emphasised that we can empower the Palestinians by reaching out to them and educating our political leaders.  He strongly supported campaigns like the ‘Kick Israel out of FIFA’, which help put pressure to isolate Israel internationally, and called for widespread BDS.

Ronnie Kasrils, struggle veteran and former Government Minister, South Africa was unable to attend but sent a statement including:  “The beautiful game as played by Israel is the epitome of race hatred and prejudice in action against Palestinian players and spectators and is fanned by vile abuse and hatred from the Israeli government, virtually endemic throughout that society, with free license for the most rabidly racist football fans.   Apartheid Israel, as was the case with Apartheid South Africa,  should have no place in football, within UEFA and FIFA”.   (full statement given in 19 March post)

The meeting was addressed by a panel of local public figures who expressed their full support for a campaign to raise awareness of the situation in Palestine across Wales and the need for international action.  Sue Lent, Deputy Leader of Cardiff City Council said that a boycott resolution would be put to the council at earliest practicable time.  Shavannah Taj , Regional officer of PCS union told the meeting of the strong support that the union nationally gives to the cause of the Palestinian people and assured us that the Wales section is equally committed.  This wholehearted level of support was reiterated by Roger Bevan, UNISON International officer.

A presentation by four of the Easton Cowgirls, an anti racist football team which had visited the West Bank, showed that there are many creative ways in which we can support Palestine in our everyday lives.

The contributions were inspiring and suggestions were made that a Palestine Day, including a football tournament should be held in Cardiff in the summer, that the Wales Football Association be lobbied to send football coaches out to Palestine, that we reach out to students, including those at Atlantic College, and that dual language literature should be provided.

Baroness Jenny Tonge closed the conference emphasising the need to constantly keep the issue of Palestine to the fore.  She described how this persistence did get results, as in the changes amongst MPs and peers over the last 15 years, but that BDS campaigns were an essential element in publicly exposing Israel’s violations of international law in order to bring pressure to end the impunity afforded Israel by our governments.

The conference agreed the following declaration:

We believe that all sporting links with Israel should be broken and as part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy, we call for a boycott of the Wales v Israel European Championship qualifying match on 6 September 2015 in Cardiff.

The apartheid Israeli state oppresses the Palestinians who face constant violence, harassment and murderous attacksmost recently last summer in Gaza. Newly elected Binyamin Netanyahu has declared  that there will be no Palestinian state and no halt to settlement building.  The situation is a clear violation of international law and requires world wide action against the Israeli state.  

In particular, Israel has launched a war on football in Palestine: footballers have been killed, stadiums bombed and players have been refused permission to travel to matches.  There can be no normal sport in the abnormal situation that exists between Israel and Palestine. We stand for a free Palestine and an end to occupation and Israel apartheid. 

We will work to build a major campaign against the Wales v Israel match involving all who oppose injustice but in particular Palestine campaigners, trade union and labour movement organisations, students, faith organisations and anti-racists. 

We also call on UEFA and FIFA to suspend the membership of the Israeli Football Association because it maintains its links with the Israeli state that practices occupation, colonisation and apartheid.

 

 

 

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