Palestinian Team Al Khader to Argentina: Cancel "Friendly" Match in Apartheid Israel
Al Khader Sports Club, whose player 19 year-old Mohammad Ghneim was killed by Israel in April, urges Argentina to cancel a planned "friendly" match in apartheid Israel.
Dear Claudio Tapia, Argentina National Team players, management and staff,
We write to you as fellow football players from the Al Khader Sports Club, near Bethlehem, in the occupied Palestinian territory. We understand you are planning a “friendly” football match with the Israeli national team on June 6. We urge you not to play this match.
We write this letter as we are still reeling in pain from the loss of our teammate, 19-year-old defender Mohammad Ghneim.
Mohammad was shot in the back by Israeli soldiers near his family’s home, not far from where Israel’s notorious apartheid wall cuts through our land, stealing farms and water resources and separating Palestinian towns from each other.
Before we could even begin to recover from Mohammad’s murder, just last week Israeli soldiers shot and killed yet another promising young Palestinian footballer, 18-year-old Thaer Yazouri, in the Palestinian town of al-Bireh, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot. That same day, Israeli soldiers also shot and killed renowned Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she was reporting on an Israeli military raid in Jenin in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
Before that we were grieving for 16-year-old Saeed Odeh, a player for Balata FC gunned down by Israeli soldiers last year, his dream of playing for the Palestinian national team cut short.
Before that, far too many others.
Amnesty International’s most recent report, which finds Israel guilty of the crime against humanity of apartheid, describes Israel’s killings of Palestinians as “systematic, unlawful and arbitrary.” It details how Israel’s apartheid regime has systematically treated Palestinians everywhere as an “inferior racial group,” denying us basic human rights.
Each one of these criminal acts by Israel’s apartheid regime has left our team devastated, but also determined.
Mohammad, just as Thaer, Saeed and many others, is no longer with us on the pitch, but we honor his spirit by continuing to strive to achieve our goals as a team and as Palestinians struggling for freedom, justice and equality.
We cannot stay silent while a team as celebrated as Argentina makes plans to come here to play a “friendly” match that will be used by Israel to sportswash its apartheid regime. These exhibition matches help ensure the impunity that allows Israel to continue to include the murder and maiming of young Palestinian footballers among its many crimes.
There’s nothing “friendly” about it.
We urge you to cancel this match and instead join the unprecedented numbers of professional players, teams and athletes standing up for Palestinian rights and refusing to sportswash Israeli apartheid.
We ask you to keep the number 14 in your mind. It was our teammate Mohammad’s jersey number. He can no longer play, but by cancelling this match, you can help hold Israel accountable and prevent it from continuing to kill the lives and dreams of young Palestinian players.
Please honor Mohammad, Thaer, and Saeed, and so many like them. Cancel your game, as there is nothing “friendly” about playing with apartheid.
Al Khader Sports Club