02 February 2018

Over 200 members of various organizations, trade unions, human rights groups and faith based bodies, including the SA Jews for a Free Palestine, staged a militant but disciplined and successful protest at today’s Davis Cup tennis match in South Africa.

Vuvuzelas, whistles and loud singing of well known anti-apartheid struggle songs could be heard from far including, according to some who were inside, on the tennis court!

The message to the Davis Cup was clear – no normal sport with an abnormal Israeli regime. Israel, as various human rights groups have documented, is practicing apartheid against the people of Palestine.

Protestors who spoke at today’s picket reminded those who gathered how the Palestinians and others in the international community once mobilized in solidarity against Apartheid SA and also isolated it’s representatives and various sporting events.

Speakers at the picket also proudly commended South Africa’s Minister of Sport & Recreation, Hon. Thulas Nxesi, who declared that he was boycotting the tennis match after being called on by SA civil society (click here). Minister Nxesi’s decision has been welcomed by trade unions (click here), members of South Africa’s Jewish community (click here) as well as South African sport organizations and civil society groups (click here).

Today’s action forms part of increasing protest action against Israel and contributes to its growing isolation from international sporting arena. Speaking to South African media, Israeli tennis players themselves have admitted they attract protests wherever they travel including having to play in “spectator-less” games.

In 2013, another African country, Tunisia, ordered their country’s top tennis player to withdraw from a tennis match against Israel at a tournament hosted in Uzbekistan. Israel is being treated similar to how Apartheid South Africa was once treated. For example, many may recall the well known 1982 protests and disruptions of the tennis match with South Africa in Amsterdam, which included the throwing of black tennis balls on the court during play by anti-apartheid activists. In addition, during the 1970s, some governments rejected the paperwork of South Africans attempting to compete in their countries and in 1974, the finals of the Davis Cup itself was cancelled after the team from India refused to travel to and play against South Africa in protest of the Apartheid regime’s policies. India was disqualified and Apartheid South Africa was awarded the title of so called “winner”. As the years went on South Africa was banned from participating in international leagues for Track and Field, Golf, Football, Cricket, and even Chess. Boycotts, divestments and sanctions were ultimately crucial in ending Apartheid in SA and are proving to be successful in holding Israel accountable for its violations of international law and its human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA