Some have credited the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement with the Argentina’s Football Association’s recent decision to cancel the last friendly match with Israel before the start of the 2018 Russia World Cup. This decision, however, was taken after the head of Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, made several threats against a star player of the AFA team. In order to better understand the underlying severity of these threats, it is imperative to take a close look at who Rajoub really is.
In 1970, Jibril Rajoub was sentenced to life in prison for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army truck, and subsequently climbed the ladder of the Fatah party to become a close confidant of Yasser Arafat in the 1980’s. With the signing of the Jibril Agreement in 1985, Rajoub was released, alongside 1,150 Palestinian prisoners, in exchange for three Israeli hostages. He became a security advisor for Arafat and led several security agencies under the political umbrella of the Palestinian Authority. Rajoub managed to squash political opposition and perpetuated the conflict with Israel by denouncing reconciliation.
Through his leadership as head of the Palestinian Olympic committee and the Palestinian Football Association, Rajoub made more efforts to make Israel a pariah in the international sporting community than to incorporate Palestinian teams and encourage sports as a form to push dialogue forward. In an interview with an Iranian TV program, Rajoub commented:
“As I’ve told you, we want to maintain the state of conflict between Palestine and the occupation. This applies to all components of the Palestinian people because we want all the Palestinians to participate in the resistance. We want the Palestinians within the 1948 borders to demand equality, the Palestinians within the 1967 borders to demand independence and liberty, and the Palestinians in the diaspora to demand the Right of Return. I believe that by international law, we have the right to conduct any form of resistance, in the occupied lands and against the occupation, in order to put an end to the occupation.”
Read more: The Forward