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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Football and Palestine

Back in 2006 I posted on EFT about the destruction of the main football pitch in Gaza by an Israeli missile. It was an example of how even football is a legitimate target for Israel's policy of collective punishment against the Palestinians for resisting their ceaseless occupation. The link is here: Football in Gaza

It came just a year after Israel thwarted the Palestinian national football team's efforts to qualify for the 2006 World Cup by refusing permission for members of the team based in Gaza - whose borders the Israelis' control - to travel to Uzbekistan for a crucial World Cup qualifier on the well-worn pretext of security grounds.

So against this backdrop I was very glad to recently see hugely positive news regarding football and Palestine. For last Sunday there was a historic occasion in the newly built Faisal al Husseini Stadium in occupied East Jerusalem as Palestine competed in their first ever home international match in their own country.

Palestine played out a 1-1 draw against Jordan in front of a packed stadium including the FIFA President Sepp Blatter. See the match report here:

Football is one of the many institutions of Palestinian civil society that has been targeted by Israel to try to prevent the expression and coalescing of a visible, positive and bold collective national identity - which runs counter to the official Israeli policy of fragmenting, dehumanising and empoverishing the Palestinian people.

So for me this news of Palestine being able to play an international game on their own land has tremendous value as an outstanding visible affirmation of the Palestinian national identity to endure in the face of ongoing Israeli oppression and attempts to efface it.


The value of the game of football transcends itself on many occasions - and this is another shining example.


Anonymous GunnerPete said...

I think it is always very good news when a deprived state turns away from violence and onto sport. There is a lot of talent coming through from this area and as you say 'T' it is a plus for the population that they have a national team to be proud of. On the other hand the restrictions that had been imposed on them by Israel wer understandable from their point of view, and it show that both sides are at least trying to normalise their lives.

10/29/2008 10:09 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Ditto the article and comment above. Refreshing for the Palestinians to have another branch to their nationality other than the negative reporting of fighting and death that usually remains the focus of news items. How this will reflect on further attempts to play outside of Palestine is another sensitive issue. Can Palestine play all qualifiers in Jerusalem?


10/29/2008 12:15 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

Thanks for this write up. I too was heartened when I read this last week. I completely agree that its fantastic news.

GP - Im not sure how refusing permission for members of the Palestinian team based in Gaza - to travel to Uzbekistan for a World Cup qualifier is "understandable"?

10/30/2008 6:27 pm

Anonymous GunnerPete said...

As I said Abdul, its perfectly understandable from a jewish point of view, of course if you are looking from an Arab pt of view it is not.

All I hope is that all outsiders (like me ) supports this bit of daylight in a very dark area that has been full of hatred for centuries. Sport is one way of showing from one side to the other side that they are not the animals they were brought up to believe.

10/30/2008 7:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"its perfectly understandable from a jewish point of view"

Oh, I can understand it from a Jewish point of view. They want to suppress the people from branching out into other spheres of society and the world by claiming security issues restrict the safety and security of the world, that ropes in everyone's safety and from that the Palestinians are a threat to all. They wouldn't be if the Israelis would own up after years of occupation of a home that does not and will not belong to them. Dont understand it from a Jewish point of view, you imbecile, check your history books first and resources and feel the pain of those who have had to fight for their right for so long, have had so many die for the sake of the Israelis and their greed and friendship with the Americans, who also bring in the British support as standard. Understand that more from a Palestinian's point of view and feel what it feels to lose your land, your heart, your freedom and your dignity.

"of course if you are looking from an Arab pt of view it is not."

And you damn well did not.

10/30/2008 7:26 pm


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