The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for Palestinian human rights achieved another high-profile victory last week after the Argentine national soccer team announced cancellation of a scheduled friendly match with Israel in Jerusalem.
The news illustrated the growing sway of pro-Palestinian solidarity advocates who took to social media to call for the boycott of the match. And it comes on the heels of actress Natalie Portman’s decision (albeit explicitly distancing herself from BDS) to rescind her decision to attend a ceremony in Jerusalem citing “the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities.”
Beyond the quotidian brutality and humiliation of millions of Palestinians under 51 years of Israeli occupation, there is an ongoing atrocity in the weekly gunning down of now over 125 Palestinians marching for their rights in Gaza. Those killed by Israeli snipers, often from hundreds of feet away, include civilians, and clearly marked journalists and paramedics.
Many Israelis may feel no shame expressing jubilation as Palestinians are killed by Israelis forces, but people around the world hoped the Argentine team would do better than commence a match so close to Gaza’s killing fields. Moreover, many noted Israel’s attacks on Palestinian soccer players. The hashtag #ArgentinaNotGoing was widely used:
BREAKING: We welcome news that @Argentina's "friendly" football match with Israel has been canceled! The team responded to creative campaigning from fans around the world denouncing Israel’s sports-washing of its crimes against Palestinians. @FIFAcom: Take note! #NothingFriendly pic.twitter.com/9ZdFYy32ke
— PACBI (@PACBI) June 5, 2018
Since some people are upset about the cancellation of Argentina's friendly with Israel, let's talk a bit about what Israel does to Palestinian football:
— Mohammad Alsaafin (@malsaafin) June 6, 2018
When someone have highest sense of Solidarity.
Argentina cancels a “friendly” football match with Israel after strong solidarity campaign with Palestinians by supporters worldwide.#ArgentinaNotGoing pic.twitter.com/D87qjIzeje
— Aamir khan (@WordsbyAamir) June 6, 2018
This is major. If I'm right this is the first sports boycott of its kind. An indication of mainstream support for Palestine & a bold rejection of US/Israeli violent & exclusionary futures. Thank you @Argentina! #Freedom #Futures #BDS https://t.co/lw3nidRrEI
— Noura Erakat (@4noura) June 6, 2018
— Jat (@Jat_12) June 6, 2018
Two years ago Celtic supporters! Yesterday the Argentine National Squad! Now Eric Cantona. Thank you. Tears burn my eyes. https://t.co/tYOEHLo6HQ
— Roger Waters (@rogerwaters) June 6, 2018
Pro-Israel partisans appeared to shift tactics in their campaign against BDS. Betraying increasing panic after repeated failures to block BDS’s momentum, apologists for Israeli occupation have shifted from their disingenuous plea to “engage” with Israel or tired, unfounded accusation of anti-Semitism. The new ploy (sometimes in a Trumpesque voice) is to smear those who answer BDS’s call for justice as capitulators to threats and terrorism. This included the unsubstantiated assertion that Argentine players were personally threatened to boycott the match. Ironically, such partisans, whose modus operandi is intimidation, accuse BDS supporters of intimidation.
Pretty much every major Argentine media outlet is attributing Argentina's cancellation of its friendly match against Israel to threats to the team and security concerns. Advocates of racist boycotts against Israel win by intimidation. Sad. pic.twitter.com/kpZYgFVInA
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) June 5, 2018
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) June 6, 2018
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) June 6, 2018
The award for chutzpah goes to the American Jewish Committee, which accused Palestinians of inviting their own deaths:
Palestinian strategy: 1) Threaten lives of athletes who compete against #Israel. 2) Set fire to Israeli nature reserves & fields that produce food for Israelis & Palestinians alike. 3) Fire mortar shells at kindergartens. 4) Send women & kids into harm’s way. A pathway to peace?
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) June 6, 2018
But as long as the occupation remains, BDS will not go away:
— Palestine in UK (@PalMissionUK) June 6, 2018
After Argentina, Netanyahu Warns of BDS Pressure to Nix Other Events https://t.co/QetXtIX5hj
— Noa Landau (@noa_landau) June 6, 2018
Under Trump, Israel is comforted by an ignorant, insouciant president; his coterie of anti-Palestinian, pro-settlement advisers; and an American ambassador who tells journalists critical of Israel to keep their mouth shut and behaves like a Likud apparatchik. With U.S. veto power preventing action in the Security Council, and without even perfunctory American disapproval of settlement expansion, BDS led by millions of grassroots activists is the only force capable of holding Israel accountable and advancing the Palestinian cause. After weeks of horrific news in Gaza, it was a bit uplifting to see the Palestinians score a goal.