LAST_UPDATEFri, 22 Jun 2018 7pm

BDS Hits Back At DAP, Urges Malaysians To Continue Boycotting Israel

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia came under scrutiny after it denied entry visas to two Israel athletes, which resulted in their withdrawal from competing in the ISAF Youth Sailing Championship being held in Langkawi from December 27 to January 3.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that little could be done to help the Israelis as Putrajaya had to abide its diplomatic policy.

Following the outrage, Perak DAP's Economic Development Bureau, Chong Zhemin, spoke out and accused Khairy of allowing politics and personal sentiments getting in the way of the international sports event.

Chong also said that it was very unsporting to deny visas for any athletes based on their nationality, religion or personal belief.

"Moreover, both athletes are the defending champions and to deny visa for their entry is to deny their right to defend their titles. This is unacceptable in any sporting event," he said.

Chong later retracted his statement as he said that it was spun out of context and made him appear to support Israel.

"I would like to stress that I support the struggle of the Palestinians and reject the cruelty and evils of the Zionist regime that oppresses the Palestinians," he said.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Malaysia (BDS Malaysia) later released a press statement saying that they are very concerned with Chong's statement.

"Notwithstanding his retraction, we are nonetheless bewildered as to why he issued it in the first place.

"There is a growing global movement that is protesting the ethnic cleansing, racial apartheid, and military occupation of Palestine by Israel. Sports have not been spared by the Israeli authorities. Palestinian footballers have been killed, stadiums bombed, and players have been refused permission to travel to matches," Mohd Nazari Ismail, chairperson of BDS Malaysia, said.

He said that even the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) rejected Israel's bid to host the games during the 2020 European Championships following a campaign by Palestinian sports team and activists across Europe.

"World soccer superstars, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazilian Ronaldo, and Eric Cantona are active campaigners for boycotting Israel, calling it a racist state, which violates human rights," he added.

Malaysians in the past have joined in boycotting Israeli products and companies supporting Israel through the 'Boycott Israel' campaign, and BDS now urges Malaysians to stand in solidarity with Palestine.

"BDS now calls upon Malaysians to stand in solidarity with Palestine to resist and boycott Israel until it ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Apartheid Wall; recognise the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194,"  Nazari concluded.