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Sunday, June 13, 2010

ESPN's Kevin Blackstone calls for a sports boycott of Israel

On his way to cover the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa, ESPN's Kevin Blackstone has called for a sports boycott of Israel (Hat Tip: Jennifer Rubin).
South Africa is a shining example of the good sports can do for society. In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel's botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip -- where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, also on my flight, once said is Israel's apartheid-like thumb -- could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel's deadly occupation of Palestinians?

Maybe a sports boycott of Israel, where sports are beloved the same as in South Africa, could help foster a round of truly meaningful peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. Maybe such a collective effort could exercise the same leverage on Israel that it did for nearly 30 years with South Africa.

I wouldn't suggest a boycott of individual Israeli athletes, like tennis player Shahar Peer, who wasn't allowed entry last year into the United Arab Emirates for the tournament. It wouldn't have been right to deny boxer and rabbinical student Yuri Foreman last Saturday night to defend his undefeated record and junior middleweight belt in Yankee Stadium against Miguel Cotto, who beat him.

Foreman reminded boxing fans last week in interviews with the media that he learned to box in an Arab village not far from Haifa, Israel, and wished sports could breakdown religious and ethnic barriers in the Middle East. Peer and Foreman are individual athletes striving mostly on their own rather than Israel's dime. It was troubling that sports turned a cold shoulder in the mid '80s to barefoot South African runner Zola Budd when the global track governing body refused to recognize her 5,000-meter world record because it was won under apartheid.

It is when it comes to international team competitions, when sports are at a nationalistic zenith, that a boycott should be considered.
There are no separate beaches in Israel. There are no separate water fountains in Israel. There are black Jews in Israel and there is no discrimination against them. Muslims are murdering Muslims by the hundreds in Darfur, Somalia and Algeria. Iran continues to murder its governments opponents by the tens. North Korea continues to starve its citizens, but is playing in the World Cup. But Mr. Blackstone - who has undoubtedly taken a few soccer balls too many off his empty skull - thinks the world should boycott Israel because nine terrorist thugs were killed while trying to murder Israeli soldiers on a ship trying to run a legal blockade?

Stick to soccer Mr. Blackstone. Or we'll boycott ESPN instead.

The picture at the top is Israeli - American coach David Blatt (recently hired to coach Maccabi Tel Aviv) with an Iranian basketball player at the 2008 Olympics, where Blatt coached the Russian team.


At 2:36 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The American sports media is leftist - ESPN booted Rush Limbaugh for the crime of a politically incorrect opinion in 2002. Does any one imagine anything will happen to Kevin Blackstone for stating an anti-Israel opinion on the network?

Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

What could go wrong indeed


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