Bereaved Israeli Families Demand FIFA Action Over Palestinian Soccer Chief’s Terror Incitement
Members of more than 30 Israeli families who lost relatives in Palestinian terrorist attacks have signed a letter to FIFA — the governing body of international soccer — charging the Palestine Football Association (PFA) with four severe violations of the organization’s rules — including incitement to terrorism and violence.
Specifically, the letter asserts that the PFA and its president, Jibril Rajoub, have breached two provisions of FIFA’s Statutes and two provisions of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code.
The letter points to the soccer competitions held under PFA auspices that were named in honor of Palestinian terrorists, such as Khalil al-Wazir — a founder of the PLO who was responsible for the deaths of more than 100 Israelis. Rajoub himself, the letter says, has glorified violence and incited Palestinians. His February 2014 call for the abduction of Israelis was followed several months later by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach.
Rajoub’s use of antisemitic language — comparing Israelis to “Satan” and claiming that, if Adolf Hitler was alive today, he would learn from the Jewish state “how to oppress humans” — represents another example of falling foul of FIFA’s rules, which strictly prohibit expressions of racism.
Finally, the letter charges that FIFA’s commitment to using soccer as a “bridge to peace” is undermined by the PFA’s boycott of Israel and its repeated attempts to have Israel thrown out of the organization. In May 2015, Rajoub spoke at the FIFA Congress in Zurich, drawing a disciplinary “red card” from his pocket — used by soccer referees to dismiss unruly players from the field — as he declared that Israel was “worse than South Africa” during the years of Apartheid.
Pro-Israel advocacy groups are warning that Rajoub and the PFA may use a FIFA meeting in Bahrain next week to again push for the expulsion of the Israel Football Association (IFA).
“We are aware that the Palestinian demand to expel the Israeli Football Association may be raised at the FIFA Council and Congress, respectively on 9 and 11 May,” said Shimon Samuels, the European representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC). “We call, on the contrary, for the Palestinian Football Association to be expelled until all names of terrorists are removed from Palestinian teams, tournaments and stadiums.”
Ronald Lauder — president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) — wrote to FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Thursday, telling him, “The campaign of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) to sanction Israel has no place on the FIFA Congress agenda.”
A member of the Palesthinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction, Rajoub is a former terrorist who spent 15 years in Israeli jails before being released in a 1985 prisoner swap. He later served as the head of the PA’s internal security force and was accused of using torture against opponents of the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
Long involved in Palestinian sports, Rajoub is also the head of the Palestine Olympic Committee. In 2012, he described as “racist” the appeals for a minute of silence at the London Olympics to remember the 11 Israeli athletes massacred by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games in 1972.
Among the bereaved family members who signed the letter to FIFA were Brenda and Nachum Lemkus, whose daughter Dalia was slain in November 2014, and Doron Mizrahi, father of Ziv Mizrachi, who was murdered in November 2015.
Brenda Lemkus said: “Our darling daughter Dalia was murdered as a result of the constant incitement of the Palestinians and their glorification of terrorists. When we heard that the incitement and glorification of terrorists was so widespread in Palestinian football, we didn’t think twice about joining the campaign and signing a complaint.”
Itamar Marcus — the director of Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch, which organized the letter — said that if FIFA ignored the complaint, “it will be a disgrace for all the member associations and a permanent stain of FIFA’s reputation.”
The appeal to FIFA comes one day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke of a Palestinian “culture of peace” at a joint appearance at the White House with US President Donald Trump, which elicited a sharp response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Standing alongside Abbas on Wednesday, Trump warned of the dangers of incitement. “There can be no lasting peace unless Palestinian leaders speak in a united voice against incitement and hate,” the president said.