Resistance on the football arena

Palestine World Cup Football

In addition to the many shock results of several matches at the World Cup, perhaps the biggest upsets have fallen on Israeli fans and the Israeli media. Little did Israel expect that fans from literally all over the world would manifestly display their support for Palestine. Israeli fans have found no choice but to be subdued. Israeli media began with bold overtures but having been persistently snubbed by spectators has chosen to be introverted and restrained. Not many fans are keen to engage in banter with Israeli media or to answer their queries. They have been ignored.

If BDS is a kind of isolation to shake Israel out of its arrogant self-image, then this isolation in Qatar is BDS-in-action. The world is saying that football fans are another breed that care about political questions from the perspective of justice and will shun the Israeli not because s/he is Israeli but because they represent a country that subjugates and colonizes the Palestinian in ways that are atrociously vicious.

In the months preceding the World Cup, things have tipped politically speaking. There has been acute violence by the Israeli Army, and Settlers, while Palestinians in their villages and towns, and cities have had to bear the brunt of these horrendous brutalities. The situation is nothing new. It is just that things have virtually surpassed the Rubicon. As a consequence, there is rage in Palestine and that has taken root in the minds of football fans too. When Morocco won its famous victory against Belgium, Moroccan fans chanted “Palestine, Palestine’. In an Australia-Tunisia encounter, a huge collective of fans held up a banner bearing the Palestinian flag, including a caption that read: “Free Palestine.

PR exercises and propaganda cannot conceal Israel’s democratic pretences. That Israel has elected an extreme right-wing government is no secret. Around the world, notably the Global South, people disapprove this damaged democracy and discount the nonsensical assertion that Israel is the only democracy in the region. The Gulf countries may have ruling classes that make stealthy deals with Israel for mutual benefit and to please the West from whom they seek added gains. But the streets have a completely different outlook. They see the suffering of the Palestinians and are showing their solidarity and empathy boldly and with scarce regard for what their authorities may think.

Read this short paraphrased narrative from ‘Outlook India’. “It was uncharted territory for the Israeli journalist. Wandering through the rustic outdoor marketplace in Doha before the start of the World Cup an Israeli journalist zeroed in on a Qatari man in his traditional head dress and white flowing robe and asked for an interview. “Which channel?” the Qatari asked. The journalist replied he was from Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster. The Qatari was stunned. “Where”? “Israel, the journalist repeated. A split second later, the interview was over. The exchange ricocheted around social media, reflecting the latest political flash point at the first World Cup in the Arab world – never mind that neither Israeli nor Palestinian national teams are competing in the tournament”.

Good on the fans that have loyally stood in cohesion with Palestine. This is not new. Some of the best in football have boycotted Israel. Campaigners in Uruguay stopped its team from playing exhibition matches in Israel enroute to Qatar – the result of a global campaign from Uruguay.

For all its bullying tactics in the political arena, Israel is losing in the ‘global people’s court’. If only the right people ruled the world, Israeli apartheid would long be over and justice would define the state of Palestine-Israel. No occupier. No colonizer. No Israeli apartheid and racist ruling system lauding it over the Palestinian.

Already in the hotspots of the West Bank including Jenin, Nablus, Masafer Yatta, Gaza, and multiple other towns and villages, there is rage and resistance. Militias are not struggling to recruit fighters. Against the odds, and at risk to their lives, even as fathers and mothers fear the worst, the young people have left their homes to fight for liberty against Settler gangsters, and soldiers fighting asymmetric battles with Palestinians far braver but less equipped. Their numbers are bludgeoning.

And the fearless youth shout “Free Palestine”. The oppressor must liberate those they have chosen to oppress and subjugate. It will not be voluntary because the oppressor has never parted with brute power voluntary. They do so under only pressure. Even then they are not liberated until they repent and allot reparations for their destruction and even face jail terms for their crimes against humanity.

Ranjan Solomon is a human rights activist, political commentator who believes that peoples’ power is a non-negotiable instrument to further democracy and justice.


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