An Israeli Druze won the Bronze medal at the Thai Boxing Championships after a Palestinian competitor was forced to forfeit rather than compete with an Israeli.
The Palestinian Olympic Committee (POC) recently forced a Palestinian boxer to forfeit his match and give up his chance for a bronze medal rather than compete with an Israeli boxer, as it would be beneath the Palestinians’ “dignity” to compete with Israelis.
The boxer, Sultan Abu Al-Haj, told the official PA TV channel that it was not his decision, but that of his superiors, including the POC, who forced him to forfeit.
The decision was based on the premise that “it is forbidden to compete with [Israelis], because it’s beneath our dignity to compete with them and recognize them as the State of Israel [sic],” he said on TV Thursday, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported.
Abu Al-Haj therefore acquiesced and forfeited his match against Israeli Druze boxer Amit Madah earlier this month at the Youth Muay Thai World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.
It is of significance to note that this was the first time that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had sent an athlete to compete in this tournament.
PMW pointed out that the POC’s demand that a Palestinian athlete not compete with an Israeli violates the spirit of the Olympics and possibly the International Olympic Committee’s Code of Ethics, Article 1.2, which demands “respect of the principle of the universality and political neutrality of the Olympic Movement.”
Although this was not an Olympic event, it was the POC, which is a member of the “Olympic Movement,” that made the decision not to compete with Israelis, PMW underscored.
The POC, as well as the Palestinian Football Association, is headed by Jibril Rajoub, secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and one of the Palestinian leaders seen as a possible replacement for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Sports as a Weapon Against Israel
Rajoub, who served time in an Israeli prison for terrorism, has himself led the PA’s war against using sports for peace-building and normalization between Israelis and Palestinians.
In 2014 he stated that “any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity.”
“I demand that all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities, especially because their recurrence would arouse disgust and aversion towards all members of the [Palestinian] sports community,” he stated on his official Facebook page.
In 2012, slamming the idea of organizing sports activities with Israelis, Rajoub stated on PA TV that he would bring Arabs by helicopter to events instead of crossing through Israel, “so they will see no Jews, no Satans, no Zionist sons of bitches.”
‘Normalization’ with Israel ‘Under No Circumstances’
“Something that has no place in the dictionary of Palestinian sportsmen is the subject of normalization,” he stated. “I understand by normalization that the relationship between me and you will be normal, that we’ll play [sports] together and there’ll be a joint program. I say to you: Under no circumstances will there be normalization. Next time we are prepared to bring the Executive Committee in helicopters… so they will see no Jews, no Satans, no Zionist sons of bitches.”
PMW has submitted complaints to the Ethics and Disciplinary committees of FIFA, the European football association, demanding that Rajoub, an open supporter of terrorism, be removed from his position as head of the Palestinian Football Association due to his numerous explicit violations of the statutes of the International Football Association.
PMW has also called on the International Olympic Committee and FIFA to suspend Palestinian participation in all international sports until Rajoub apologizes for the violation of the fundamental principle of international sportsmanship and commits to future competitions with Israelis.