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Call off the Davis Cup, demand Palestine solidarity groups

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Palestine solidarity groups have called on Tennis SA to cancel the upcoming Davis Cup Tennis match which will see the South African team face off against the Israeli tennis team. A number of groups are planning a picket next week to protest the Israeli tennis team’s participation in the Davis cup. The Davis Cup is due to be held from the 2nd-3rd February at Irene Country Club in Pretoria. Minister of Sports Thulas Nxesi will be boycotting the tennis match.

Mitchel Hunter, from the SA Jews for Peace (SAJFP) which forms part of the campaign, says the State of Israel must be isolated for its inherent racism. They are calling on Tennis South Africa and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to cancel the match or face protest action.

“We as South Africans who overcame Apartheid stand united in our condemnation of Israel for its attacks against Palestinian sports players, the arrests, torture of Palestinian athletes, the denial of freedom of movement of Palestinian sports people and bombing of their stadiums and sports fields. This is in addition to Israel’s routine disruption of Palestinian efforts to import necessary sports equipment and the rampant racism in Israeli sport with its segregated leagues that separate Jewish players from non-Jewish players,” he explained.

Palestine solidarity organisations have urged Tennis South Africa to urgently review its stance. It says by excluding Israel it will send a powerful message of solidarity to the Palestinians.

“In South African history, the world helped us to fight apartheid with a sports boycott under the slogan ‘no normal sport with an abnormal regime’. In 1975, the Davis Cup was cancelled in South Africa after the Indian Portuguese teams had refused to travel to apartheid South Africa,” it said.

“It is abnormal to support an illegal regime, Israel is an abnormal state. Israel’s attempt to whitewash activities like sports is a crass attempt to legitimize itself. The world is not fooled,” he said.

“We want to honour our South African history and the Palestinian people by boycotting the match.”
The Palestine solidarity organizations have welcomed the decision of the sports minster to not attend. The Minsters decision came after appeals were made by Palestine human rights groups to boycott the match, as an Israeli team would be present.

“We need to isolate Israel in every aspect of society be it through sports, arts, academia and through consumer boycotts,” said BDS South Africa spokesperson Kwara Kekana.

“Society must be aware of the repercussions of associating themselves with Israeli institutions in every form or shape.”

In a letter written earlier today from the minster addressing the Palestinian support groups he thanked them for their concerns and explained why he decided to attend the match.

“International solidarity and the boycott against Apartheid South Africa played a big role in our liberation. Indeed, one of the most well-known slogans came out of that context – ‘no normal sport with an abnormal regime,” he stated.

He further explained how he is aware of the Israeli apartheid practice and was a victim of it along with other prominent South African figure.

“I myself have experienced Israeli discrimination and occupation when I was denied entry into Palestine in 2012. In response to this and other practices by the Israeli regime against the Palestinians, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many other notable South Africans, have called on the world to support the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement,” he said.

The minster who says he would have loved to support the Davis Cup, but given the fact there will be an Israeli team present, he felt it would be best for the nation if he had does not attend.

“In the year that we are celebrating Nelson Mandela, let me end by quoting Tata Madiba, who said that ‘our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinian people,” Nxesi ended.
Tennis SA could not be reached for comment. VOC

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