Pro-Israel NGO condemns Palestinian Authority Olympic President for sports boycott of Israel

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Palestine Media Watch lodged a complaint on August 15 with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) calling for disciplinary action against the President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee Jibril Rajoub for congratulating Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine for withdrawing from the competition rather than to face an Israeli.
“In fundamental violation not only of the Olympic spirit but also of the Olympic Charter and the Code of Ethics, the President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, Jibril Rajoub once again congratulated an Olympic athlete for withdrawing from an Olympic competition so as not to confront an Israeli. adversary ”, wrote PMW Director Itamar Marcus and Director of Legal Strategies Maurice Hirsch in a letter addressed to the Director of Ethics and Compliance of the International Olympic Committee.

On July 23, Nourine and her trainer, Amar Benikhlef, told Algerian media they were stepping down to avoid a possible second round clash with Israeli Tohar Butbul in the men’s 73kg. division, citing what they called the Palestinian cause.

The International Judo Federation suspended Nourine and her trainer, and they then lost their accreditation to the Algerian Olympic Committee.

On July 24, Rajoub published an audio extract of an interview he gave in Arabic to Algerian radio in Oran the day before.

“There is no place to meet anyone who is linked to this official terror (ie Israel), neither in sport nor outside of sport. Hope this will be a message for all Arabs who are normalizing and those who are rushing [towards normalizing ties with Israel]Rajoub said in the clip, according to the translation of the interview in the PMW letter. Rajoub visited Nourine on July 25.

In a following Facebook post, Rajoub wrote: [Nourine refusing to compete against an Israeli] expresses the real and deep Algerian affiliation to Palestine, to the cause of Palestine. The best of blessings to the Algerian people and blessings to this great athlete. We wish you all the best, calm and stability, ”according to the translation.

“This is not the first such statement made by Rajoub,” Marcus and Hirsch wrote in their letter of complaint. “Last year, Rajoub ‘conveyed his blessings to all Arab athletes who refused to compete with Israeli athletes’ and demanded the implementation of a universal Arab boycott of Israel in sport,” said they wrote.

THE BOYCOTT that Rajoub defended was first proposed by the executive office of the Council of Arab Ministers of Youth and Sports. The proposal was to refuse to participate in any event organized by Israel, to refuse to host an event in which Israeli groups participate and for every Arab athlete to refuse to compete against an Israeli athlete.

Rajoub is also the head of the Palestinian Football Association and has campaigned in the past for FIFA, the international football association, to boycott Israel. Following a complaint from PMW, FIFA fined Rajoub $ 20,000 in 2018 and banned him from the association for inciting hatred and violence against Argentina, which had agreed to play a friendly match in Israel.

Rajoub “glorified terrorism,” encouraging football tournaments and teams to be named after Palestinian terrorists, and likened Israelis to “Satan and Nazis,” FIFA chief investigator said at the time. .

The punishment imposed by FIFA has helped curb the practice of withdrawing from matches against Israel, according to PMW. The watchdog, however, argued that, unlike FIFA, the IOC does not follow its own charter and code of ethics.

For example, Principle 4 of the IOC’s “Fundamental Principles of Olympism” states that “The practice of sport is a human right. Each individual must have the opportunity to practice sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires understanding in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. “

THE OLYMPIC Rings are pictured outside the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lausanne, Switzerland last month. (credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS)

Principle 6 further states: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter must be guaranteed without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin. , property, birth or other status.

Marcus and Hirsch argued that Rajoub’s statements were a clear violation of these principles.

THEY ALSO argued that Rajoub’s statements violated Articles 1.1 to 1.4 of the IOC Code of Ethics, which say: “Respect for universal fundamental ethical principles is the foundation of Olympism. These include:
  1. Respect for the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play;
  2. Respect for the principle of universality and political neutrality of the Olympic Movement;
  3. Maintain harmonious relations with State authorities, while respecting the principle of autonomy as stated in the Olympic Charter;
  4. Respect for international conventions for the protection of human rights insofar as they apply to the activities of the Olympic Games and which ensure in particular: respect for human dignity, the rejection of discrimination of any kind and for any motive whatsoever, and rejection of all forms of harassment and abuse.
Rajoub’s statements were also a blatant violation of the IOC Charter and Code of Ethics, argued Marcus and Hirsch.

These violations were not new, they added.

“Three years ago, PMW lodged an extensive complaint against Rajoub with the IOC, but the IOC, unfortunately, ignored the writing on the wall and took no action against Rajoub,” the letter reads. “In November 2020, PMW filed a further complaint, when Rajoub used the official stationery of the Palestinian Olympic Committee to condemn the ‘crime of normalization’ with Israel in sports. Unfortunately, the IOC also ignored this complaint.”

Marcus and Hirsch concluded the letter with a strong warning.

“While the IOC ignores repeated violations of its Charter and Code of Ethics by Rajoub and the Palestinian Olympic Committee, the Palestinian Authority celebrates the terrorists who perpetrated the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli Olympians and Rajoub refers with reverence to the planner of the attack, as one of the people who left the Palestinians with a “legacy.”

“Before Rajoub’s hate speech leads to another massacre, it is time for the IOC to take firm action,” the letter concludes.

Rajoub, 68, has been a prominent figure in the PLO almost since its inception and has been arrested several times on charges of terrorist acts and membership of a terrorist organization. He was close to former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who was his national security adviser in 2003.


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