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Right To Movement Palestine Commends South African Rugby Union for Disinviting Apartheid Israel Team

Letter from Right To Movement Palestine welcomes the decision by the South African Rugby Union to Withdraw an invitation to a team representing apartheid Israel. "SARU did the right thing!" 

Dear South African Rugby Union,

We are writing to you as athletes and sports lovers from Right to Movement Palestine - a grassroots campaign that uses sports to demand an end to the apartheid regime that we are forced to live under in colonized Palestine. 

We understand that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) has withdrawn the invitation to a team representing Apartheid Israel – the Tel Aviv Heat – which was to participate in the upcoming Mzansi Challenge in South Africa, kicking off on 24 March 2023. We are writing to affirm SARU did the right thing!

Sports in general and rugby specifically upholds values of solidarity and respect and it continues to be a driving force for people around the world to play, watch, and support. However, these values are profoundly contrast with a team that aims to sportswash and represents Israel’s apartheid regime which imposes a “cruel system of domination” by treating Indigenous Palestinians as an inferior racial group, as documented by Amnesty International. 

Palestinian athletes, like all Palestinians, are forced to live in exile or under the brutal oppression of Israel’s apartheid regime. Across all sports, we are denied the right to train, play, and compete together due to apartheid Israel-imposed fragmentation. Palestinians are killed and maimed by Israeli soldiers, arrested at military checkpoints, and prevented from traveling to matches and tournaments, whether within Palestine or abroad. Palestinian sporting matches are raided by armed Israeli soldiers and our facilities are bombed by Israeli fighter jets. Our own marathon must be run in laps because Israel’s apartheid infrastructure denies us the space to run freely.

And this was all before Israel’s most openly racist, far-right and fundamentalist government came into power, already keeping its promise to escalate the violent oppression of Palestinians.

As South Africans, you know how oppressive regimes cynically use sports in an attempt to whitewash and divert attention away from their human rights violations. Apartheid South Africa was engaged in sportswashing in its own day. Apartheid Israel uses that same playbook today. 

As South Africans, you also know just how important effective global solidarity was in defeating the apartheid regime in your own country. As Palestinians, we are asking for that same effective solidarity and we are grateful about your decision.  We are inspired by the South African people’s longstanding support for people's rights everywhere.  We are equally inspired by the unprecedented number of active teams and athletes across the world who are standing on the right side of history and refusing to sportswash Israeli Apartheid.

We extend our gratitude to you on behalf of all Palestinians especially the athlete community.

Right To Movement Palestine


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