Citizens International

“A seriously uncomfortable afternoon” for Israel’s sporting ambassadors in Scotland

posted June 18, 2012 by Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

According to the Herald on Sunday, “It wasn’t much fun being an Israeli footballer at Tynecastle yesterday. Lashed by the rain, barracked by pro-Palestinian demonstrators – and seven goals down at half-time…against a noisy backdrop of protests about the imprisonment of Palestinian footballers. The Israeli national anthem was jeered, and the players booed…the demonstrators’ chants for Scotland to score 10”

“Free Mahmoud Sarsak” was interspersed throughout ninety minutes of non-stop chanting with “Without guns, you’re rubbish” and multiple versions of “Boycott apartheid Israel”.  The protestors warned the Scottish players of Israel’s habit of calling in an air strike when losing in a fair fight.

Despite incessant heavy rain, an important demonstration in defence of asylum seekers on the same day, and Lothian and Borders Police reneging on a widely-reported agreement with the protest organisers earlier in the week to allow banners into the stadium, over 150 Scots protested without cease for ninety minutes against Israeli internment of Palestinian football players, and the imprisonment and violation of Palestine.  A 2-minute video clip here.

Scotland on Sunday reported that “the Israel side…endured a seriously uncomfortable afternoon. A crowd of about 100 protesters had joined the Tynecastle crowd, protesting against the alleged illegal detention of Palestine footballers. It’s a campaign backed by Eric Cantona and was highlighted recently by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and by the world players’ union FIFPro. Not only did the protesters boo the Israeli national anthem, they jeered virtually every time one of the visiting players touched the ball and chanted throughout the match.”

After the final whistle, two Israeli officials accompanied a lone player onto the pitch to thank their two remaining supporters. Unable to control his fury, possibly because there were no military checkpoints or even a torture chamber to deal with those who taunt Israeli soldiers, one of the Israeli officials made a middle-finger gesture to the terraces, very poor from a sporting ambassador.  A complaint will be lodged against this official; Scottish club managers have been disciplined for the same offence.  Full report here

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