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Issue #1701      September 9, 2015

The false Israeli facade

During the post-war decades, apartheid South Africa set great store by its relations with sports bodies and fans around the world. Its rugby and cricket players were intended to be ambassadors for friendship between nations and peoples.

Indeed, for 50 years apartheid’s supporters here in Britain insisted that such “constructive engagement” with South Africa on the playing fields and in company boardrooms would encourage our white cousins to treat the black majority a little more fairly.

In the end, apartheid was brought down by a combination of mass and armed struggle inside South Africa, backed by the socialist countries and by diplomatic, trade, cultural and sports sanctions imposed from outside, often as the result of popular campaigning.

For almost 70 years, much of the world has allowed successive Israeli governments to occupy territories in defiance of international law, including not only Palestinian land but chunks of Egypt, Lebanon and Syria as well.

Today, despite a pile of UN resolutions, the Israeli state still denies the national, democratic and basic human rights of the Palestinian people.

The US and Britain still refuse to impose sanctions on the spurious grounds that a “peace process” still exists, presumably to resume as soon as Israel decides who should represent the Palestinian people.

At the same time, Israeli governments continue to blockade Gaza, occupy the West Bank and proclaim that occupied East Jerusalem will never become the capital of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The blatantly racist “right of return” law in Israel allows anyone judged to be of Jewish descent anywhere in the world to come and settle there, while millions of Palestinians are denied the right to come home to the land of their families for generations.

Within Israel, too, native Palestinian Arabs are treated as second or third-class citizens despite having many equal rights in law. Almost invariably, their residential and farming areas suffer inferior public provision when it comes to economic investment and social facilities of every kind.

In fact, the law provides the framework within which the Israeli authorities persecute human rights campaigners, academics, political activists, publishers and journalists who dare challenge the Israeli apartheid system or advocate sanctions against the Israeli state.

Not surprisingly, then, many thousands of Palestinians continue to languish in prison as a result of their political activities. Meanwhile, the Israeli drive to present a civilised, even friendly, face to the outside world continues.

It even defies the laws of geography, as Israeli representatives participate in the Eurovision Song Contest and the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) competitions.

This makes it all the more important to protest in Cardiff this Sunday, when Wales play Israel in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

No doubt many fans are eager to cheer on the home side, buoyed by the Welsh team’s elevation above England to ninth place in the world football rankings.

Some have indicated they will be joining the march before going to the match.

But one of the invited speakers will not be there.

Iyad Burnat had two ribs broken by Israeli soldiers a week ago, when leading a peaceful march against state theft of Palestinian land.

Morning Star

Next article – Who is responsible for the refugee crisis in Europe

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