palestinian sports

Wiesenthal Center urges Germany to stop funding Palestinian sports

The Simon Wiesenthal Center anti-Semitism watchdog called on the German government to end its funding of Palestinian sports agencies over their practice of naming teams and tournaments after Palestinian terrorists, saying that Germany should not support the “blatant sanctification of Jew-killers.”

A statement Tuesday from the organization’s director for international relations Shimon Samuels came in response to an agreement signed last week between the head of Germany’s representative office in Ramallah, Peter Beerwerth, and Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub. Under the agreement, Germany agreed to pay “all expenses and fees” for a German soccer expert to help the association improve the quality of Palestinian soccer, according to the Palestinian Media Watch monitoring group.

Rajoub has previously said that he “won’t allow and won’t agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel,” and has called on soccer’s main governing body, FIFA, to suspend Israel’s membership.

In its statement, the Simon Wiesenthal Center provided a list of teams and tournaments sponsored by the Palestinian Football Association named after Palestinians who killed Jews and Israelis, such as a team named after Salah Khalaf, who helped plan the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics in which 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September.

Samuels said that by funding an organization that glorifies terrorists such as Khalaf, Germany was associating itself “with the blatant sanctification of Jew-killers” and “thereby evoking the shadows of the 1936 Nazi Olympics and the 1972 Munich Olympics atrocity.”

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Samuels called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel “to suspend this unthinkable agreement until the Palestinian Authority removes all names of terrorists from all sectors of Palestinian sport and their acts of terror be publicly condemned by Ramallah.”

He added that “if Berlin wishes to reignite the spirit of peace, it should perhaps invite Israeli and Palestinian football teams for a ‘friendly’ match, despite Sports Minister Rajoub’s definition of sports encounters of young Palestinians with their Israeli peers as a ‘crime against humanity.’”

Other examples of Palestinian sports teams and tournaments named after terrorists, according to PMW, include a soccer tournament named after Khalid al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, who masterminded a number of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis for the Palestinian Liberation Organization prior to being killed in Tunisia 1988 by Israeli commandos; and a soccer team named after “the engineer” Yahya Ayyash, who was Hamas’s chief bomb-maker and was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis before Israel assassinated him in 1996 with an explosives-rigged phone.

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