To: International Olympics Committee
Dear International Olympics Committee (IOC)
We, the undersigned citizens of the world, call on the international Olympics Committee to rescind Israel’s participation in the London 2012 Olympics.
Israel’s attack on a humanitarian aid fleet on Monday 31 May 2010, its murder of 9 human rights activists in international waters, and wounding many more, demonstrate that Israel rejects the structural tenets of our shared humanity, manifested in a global moral consensus and international law.
Israel was established on the ruins of another country, Palestine. In 1948 more than half the population of Palestine were uprooted from their cities and villages, 400 of which were completely destroyed. The state of Israel has never allowed Palestinian refugees to return and today their number has reached 7 million, many of whom are still stateless, living in refugee camps in Palestine and other Arab countries
Since its establishment the state of Israel has consistently violated international law. To date, it has defied 246 UN Security Council Resolutions. As a direct consequence, seven million Palestinians are excluded from the right to live on land internationally acknowledged to be theirs; and increasingly, they are being excluded from their right to any future at all as a nation. The 4 million Palestinians in the occupied territories have endured over 40 years of brutal occupation and denied even the most basic Human rights. The 1.4 million who remain in Israel are second class citizens.
The daily brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank continues; Palestinian land continues to be stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For years now the state of Israel has been carrying out a slow genocide in the Gaza Strip, maintaining a tight blockade over its inhabitants and repeated bombing raids all of which are contrary to International Laws which prohibit collective punishment.
The Israeli military used white phosphorus munitions in the 2008-2009 Gaza war. The IDF acknowledged it’s use after the war ended.
Several reports from human right groups during the war indicated that white phosphorus shells were being used by Israel in violation of international law. Human Rights Watch said shells exploded over populated civilian areas, including a crowded refugee camp, a UN compound where food was stored, and a United Nations school where civilians were seeking refuge.
Human Rights Watch said its experts in the region had witnessed the use of white phosphorus. Kenneth Roth, the organisation’s executive director, added: “This is a chemical compound that burns structures and burns people. It should not be used in populated areas.”
Amnesty International said a fact-finding team found “indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus” in crowded residential areas of Gaza City and elsewhere in the territory. Donatella Rovera, the head of an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, said: “Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.”
“Israel’s policy on settlements is not only unlawful, it also impacts severely on the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the constructions taking place on occupied Palestinian land,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other prominent South Africans have likened the situation of the Palestinians to apartheid for which South Africa were banned from international sporting events including the Olympic Games.
The challenge of apartheid was fought with the non-violent international response of a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Today Palestinian artists, trade unionists, teachers, writers, film-makers and non-governmental organisations have called for a comparable boycott of Israel, as offering another path to a just peace, saying, “ At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israel’s violently colonial and racist policies, we respectfully urge conscientious organisations, sportsmen, academics, artists and intellectuals from around the world, including those who visit [or host Israeli’s from] the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), to refrain from visiting [or hosting] Israel to participate in any event or encounter that is not explicitly dedicated to ending Israel’s illegal occupation and other forms of oppression. Regardless of intentions, such visits only contribute to the prolongation of injustice by normalizing and thereby legitimizing it, and inadvertently support Israel’s efforts to appear as a “normal” participant in the “civilized” world of sport, science, scholarship and art while at the same time practising a pernicious form of apartheid against Palestinians.” This call has been endorsed by some brave Israeli dissidents and many prominent international figures.
Boycott is a tactic which allows people, as distinct from their elected governments, to apply pressure on those wielding power in an unjust way. It is directed not against people but against oppressive and unjust policies and regimes in order to bring about change. I would also remind you that Principle 2 of the Olympic Charter declares the principles of Olympism to “place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”. Also principle 5 which states “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion,
politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Clearly the acts of genocide against Palestinians and the forcing out by the illegal expansion of the settlements is a violation of this principle. By your own words in Principle 6 “Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.” As Israel are not compliant how can they then participate under the current conditions that Palestinians are faced with? Particularly considering that “The name of an NOC must reflect the territorial extent and tradition of its country…” However many Israelis are living on disputed land and therefore Israeli athletes cannot be considered to be from the legitimate territorial extent of their country.
Contrary to Olympic Charter bye-laws stating “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas” you will; by allowing Israel to participate and not taking a stand against their racist policies; be implicitly supporting war crimes, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and continued oppression of the Palestinian people, a people seeking to end the silence of the international community and achieve a just peace. The Israeli politicians and citizens see every visit to and from Israel as an act of support for their policies. Every cancellation is a reminder to them that all is not well and that there will be a price for the ongoing oppression and the indifference for rights of Palestinians.
If you require more information about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories, organisations such as Amnesty International, the World Health Organisation and the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem have published detailed reports.
We feel sure that, in the light of the information available, you would not wish to lend support – however indirect and implicit – to Israel’s policies, by allowing them to attend and participate in such a high profile event that aims to be “a force for good”.