Successful Scottish Protest against Israel's Military Football Team
(Sep 4, 2002)
An Israeli football team made up of soldiers was set back on its heels by a determined protest against Israeli mass murder and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Well over 500 men and women gave a magnificent kick-off last Wednesday to the campaign against all Israeli sporting and cultural tours when they protested against the football "game of shame" between Scotland and Israel under 21s in Hamilton. The Scotsman newspaper reported that "300 police and 90 stewards were on duty in and around the ground, more than were used at the Champions League final". The Glasgow Herald said that "international politics overshadowed events on the park," as a result of the protest organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Muslim Association of Britain. From now on, the Israeli pariah state can only field teams in Scotland behind a wall of police.
The impact of the demonstration is revealed by a vitriolic pro-Israeli report in the Glasgow News by Marc Cowen. The Israeli team, he writes, was "greeted by a hail of boos and jeers as they walked onto the pitch at Hamilton for the Under-21 international against Scotland." Cowen was apoplectic, reporting how "The stunned Israelis" were shocked by "pro-Palestinian protesters [who] screamed abuse at them throughout the national anthem." The so-called abuse was the mass chant of "Sharon - terrorist!", a statement of the obvious.
The demonstators showed creativity in getting round the disgraceful Strathclyde police threat to arrest anyone holding a Palestinian flag inside the ground. Cowen was "shocked by the level of noise and the ferocity of the demonstrators' chants. The demonstrators had been warned against raising the Palestinian flag. But they still brought enough coloured balloons to form a makeshift one." He notes that the whole game was "seen throughout Israel as the match was being televised there"
Although the figure of 21 actually came from the Israeli Football Association, Cowen writes that "speakers claimed that 21 of the 22 footballers in the Israeli party had served in the army and should be tried for war crimes. Still more raged that the players were nothing but militia men, 'murdering Palestinian kids while they tried to play football'.
Cowen writes that "chants of 'Free Palestine' and 'Victory to the intifada'...had shocked the Israelis outside the Ballast stadium. A stunned Israeli team manager Eli Rozen told me: 'We came here to play football. We have to put up with these problems from the Palestinians in Israel, but why should we have to put up with it here in Scotland?' "
The Israeli team manager also told Cowen that "The police...and the SFA have been wonderful. They have had so many problems dealing with the pro-Palestinian supporters trying to have this game cancelled...We can only tell them thank you for making such an effort for us...Sadly, though, the protesters made themselves well heard both in the stadium and outside...(A)ll attempts to drown them out were in vain."
Sharon and his fellow-terrorists may be able to jail and kill opponents of their racist rule in Israel-Palestine, but that we will redouble our efforts to ensure there is a roar of support every time sporting or cultural ambassadors of the racist occupiers of Palestine come to Scotland - a loud roar of support for the Palestinians.
Mick Napier, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign