Palestinians respond to Orlando Pirates: don't sportswash apartheid Israel

The South African team is hiding behind rules to justify its "friendly" match with apartheid Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv

As the broadest coalition in Palestinian society that is leading the global BDS movement for Palestinian rights, we appreciate Orlando Pirates recognizing the Palestinian plight. However, while Orlando Pirates contributed to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa by defying rules imposed by corrupt, racist, and oppressive institutions, the team is now hiding behind rules to justify its “friendly” match with apartheid Israel’s representative Maccabi Tel Aviv on July 13.

South Africans, Palestinians, and all peoples that have struggled against oppression know too well that our liberation will ultimately come from grassroots solidarity forcing the hand of corrupt institutions and complicit states to respect international law.

Orlando Pirates can withdraw from this sportswashing match, and they are morally obliged to do so. Palestinians are not calling for charity but for the most basic form of solidarity, and that is to do no harm to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Playing with a team representing apartheid Israel would normalize apartheid and sportswash it, and that would harm our struggle for a future without apartheid and settler-colonialism. 

Just as those who fought apartheid in South Africa expected international teams to heed the call from the oppressed South African majority not to play with representatives of that regime, Palestinians are asking Orlando Pirates not to play with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

As millions of Palestinians face apartheid Israel’s ongoing, decades-long violent and deadly oppression, Orlando Pirates’ failure to heed our call is exactly what would “undermine the club’s values.”

Orlando Pirates, withdraw from the match. There's nothing “friendly” about apartheid.


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