PH, Béal Feirste
The news coverage of the murder that Israel has carried out in Palestine has stopped but the occupation and slaughter still goes on. 7 July saw the release of the Irish League soccer fixtures for the six counties, which Linfield won last season. Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Belfast have been running a campaign against the North Belfast club, Cliftonville for two years collecting many signatures of Cliftonville supporters calling for the club to end their contract with Puma. Due to an understanding that terminating such a contract would come at a considerable cost to the club, the minimum which BDS has asked the club to do would be to not renew their contract with their Puma, who sponsor the Israeli national team and multiple Israeli teams who play football on occupied Palestinian territory. Ballymena United is also another club in the Danske Bank Premiership which is sponsored by Puma.
BDS globally previously ran a successful campaign in getting Adidas to drop their sponsorship of the Israeli football team. This came after 130 Palestinian clubs asked Adidas to end its sponsorship with the Israeli Football Association. BDS also handed over a petition of 16,000 signatures to Adidas headquarters in Amsterdam in June 2018, before Adidas dropped their sponsorship in July 2018. Puma have since sponsored the Israeli football team and in 2019 over 200 Palestinian football teams have wrote a letter to Puma asking them to end their sponsorship of the Israeli football team. BDS receive directions directly from Palestinians for what goods to boycott as it is believed only a boycott of Israeli goods can end the apartheid in Palestine, much like the boycott of South African goods in the last century.
Since its founding in 2006, BDS has been harassed and defamed in Israel and America. In June 2015, $50 million was raised to counter BDS on US campuses and Zionist minister, Yisrael Katz, stated there should be, “targeted civil eliminations of BDS leaders”. In September 2009, human rights activist Mohammed Othman was detained for four months after returning from a trip to Norway, after which Amnesty International threatened to declare him a prisoner of conscience.
Palestinian footballers have been denied travel permits by the apartheid state. This has resulted in tournaments getting called off. In 2012 Israel also destroyed a central Palestinian football stadium which was built during Yasser Arafat’s rule, with a capacity for 10,000 people. Palestinian footballers have also been left unable to play football again after airstrikes left them disabled, and in 2012 Palestine striker, Mahmoud Al Sarsak, was detained without charge and went on a three month hunger strike. Israel is doing everything to stop Palestine gaining any sort of success even in sport while under apartheid. Even in 2015 four Palestinian Children, Mohammad Ramiz Bakr (11), Ahed Atef Bakr (10) Zakariya Ahed Bakr (10) and Ismali Mahmoud Bakr (9) were killed while playing football on a beach as they were hit with by an Israeli bombardment.
These reasons are why socialist-republicans, and anyone with a conscience generally, should be supporting the call of Palestinians to boycott Israeli products and anything that has links to the Israeli football team. We should be highlighting these facts to any local organisation that has links to Israeli products and be supporting BDS campaigns against them on our island as CYM activists have done with the BDS Belfast campaign in calling for Cliftonville to drop their contract with Puma.
Qatar Sports Club recently announced it had no plans to renew its contract with Puma amid local and International calls for a boycott of the sports brand and we call on local top clubs such as Cliftonville and Ballymena to do the same. We also encourage fans of these clubs to support the BDS call and boycott any of the clubs merchandise which is sponsored or supplied by Puma to put pressure on their local clubs to cut ties with the Israeli apartheid. It is the least we can do while the Israeli occupation and slaughter continues in Palestine, even when it is not reported by the news.