Jibril Rajoub forbids Palestinian-Israeli sports,
yet in Paris says sports is "a bridge of love and connection
with the international community"
By Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Maurice Hirsch, Adv.
It's ironic to hear senior PA leader Jibril Rajoub say at a football exhibition in Paris that sports is "a bridge of love and connection with the international community," considering that he has forbidden Palestinian players, coaches, and teams to ever engage in sports with Israelis.
Fatah Central Committee Secretary and Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub:
"For us, the sport [football] is a means of presenting the hardships and suffering of our people from this fascist and racist occupation. The presentation of the Palestinian as he participates in sports spreads the human idea, the values, and the ethical code of sports as an internal message to Palestinian society, and as a bridge of love and connection with the international community."
[Official PA TV News, June 6, 2019]
In contrast, Rajoub both prohibits Palestinians from participating in sporting events with Israelis, and has even said that such sporting events are no less than a "crime against humanity".
Rajoub: "Anyone who participates in any joint [sports] activity with the Israelis -- I'll take him off the [Palestinian Football] Association's lists, whether he is a player, coach, referee or, God forbid, a team."
[Official PA TV, July 1, 2013]
Referring to a friendly soccer game between Israeli and Palestinian children shortly after the 2014 war in Gaza, Rajoub stated that:
"Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity."
Rajoub's reference to "the ethical code of sports" is also ironic as he himself is currently under investigation by the Ethics Committee of FIFA, the international football organization, for breaching FIFA's rules by promoting and glorifying terror against Israelis. FIFA's investigation is based solely on complaints submitted by Palestinian Media Watch, including an extensive report entitled Kick Terror Out of Football which details Rajoub's terror promotion.
PMW has exposed similar two-faced comments by Rajoub about sports being a means to foster friendly relations among nations but not with Israel. Last year, Rajoub advised "all the nations that have conflicts" to "separate sports and politics" and said that "sports can be... a bridge to making peace." He added, however, that this is not the case with Israel - "our enemy, which doesn't want us to engage in sports":
Rajoub: "I hope that all the nations that have conflicts will insist on separating sports and politics. Sports can be a bridge to affection and creating connections, and a bridge to making peace. Of course, that's true for the whole world except for our enemy [Israel], which doesn't want us to engage in sports and doesn't want us to convince the world that we are worthy of a state and independence."
[Algerian TV 3, Sports Hour, Feb. 27, 2018]
As if the irony of Rajoub's contradictory statements is not sufficient, Rajoub's recent statements in Paris seem to be also breaching FIFA's bylaws.
By declaring that for him Palestinian football is a "means of presenting the hardships and suffering of our people", Rajoub was again breaching FIFA's Ethics code which demands that politics be kept out of sports. Specifically, to "refrain from any activity or behaviour or any attempted activity or behaviour that might give rise to the appearance or suspicion of improper conduct" and also must "remain politically neutral."
In addition, by again referring to Israel as the "fascist and racist occupation" Rajoub was also breaching the FIFA prohibition to "not offend the dignity or integrity of a country, private person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions on account of race, skin colour, ethnicity, nationality, social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason."
PMW will be notifying FIFA of Rajoub's ongoing statements that seem to be additional violations of FIFA's code of ethics.
Note: Jibril Rajoub also holds the positions of Head of the PLO Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, Chairman of the Palestine Olympic Committee, and Chairman of the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA).
The following is a longer excerpt of Rajoub's statement:
"This state [Israel] is a state of bullies. Fascists can learn a lesson from this state. This government -- there is none more brazen in human history... Anyone who participates in any joint [sports] activity with the Israelis -- I'll take him off the [Palestinian Football] Association's lists, whether he is a player, coach, referee or, God forbid, a team... Did we act correctly and convince [FIFA's] General Assembly? Yes. Yes, we'll suspend their [Israel's] membership [in FIFA] and this way we'll screw them... I won't allow and won't agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel... If a photo is published of [football star] Messi next to the [separation] fence, - the new Berlin Wall, - and the new Nazis [Israelis] will be seen the way they treat Palestinians, the Palestinian players -- well, this by itself will be the highest achievement."
[Official PA TV, July 1, 2013]