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“I Won’t Compete”: Two Olympians Take Courageous Stand Against Israel and Apartheid

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/08/2021 - 12:05am in

TOKYO — Visiting a bereaved family that lost a child is a terrible thing. It is really not something anyone should ever experience. In Palestine, where the lives of children are taken by Israeli soldiers almost daily, it is a regular occurrence. On any given day one will find in Palestine people sitting in a room filled with mourners, posters of a murdered child, coffee and dates ready to be served, and among the crowd of mourners one will easily spot the unmistakable faces of the child’s parents.

In the current reality in Palestine, one cannot possibly visit all the families who mourn the loss of their child because there are simply too many. Trigger-happy Israeli soldiers shoot and the young, unarmed Palestinians fall as though their life had no value to anyone. No one protects them from the brutality of the Israeli forces and there is no one they can call on for help. The families have no recourse and in the Israeli media, the death of a Palestinian is a minor news item, reported once and then forgotten.

One rarely hears of a demand for an investigation and the press, like the Israeli public, are oblivious to the loss of these invaluable, precious lives. Being a Palestinian means that you have no protection, and any signs of protest or any calls for change will come only after you are killed. Any Palestinian alive today can be dead tomorrow and there will be no consequences to the perpetrators.


Taking a stand

While most of the world remains silent in the face of the horrors that Palestinians face daily, two people stood up and said “No!” This happened in what is perhaps the least likely place on earth. It was in Tokyo, during the 2021 Olympic Games, that two Judo competitors refused to compete against members of the Israeli team. They stood up and said they will not give legitimacy to the Zionist state, and by doing so they placed principle and justice ahead of their own careers and their personal ambitions. That was a rare sight.

As someone who had practiced martial arts almost my entire life and tight for more than two decades, I know that all martial arts are based on values of justice and morality. The two competitors have shown the world that they were true martial artists first and Olympic athletes second.

These two martial artists, who are also two Olympic athletes, are Algerian judoka Fathi Nourine and Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdelrasool. They refused to compete with a member of the Israeli Judo team and instead withdrew from the Olympic Games. The dream of competing in the Olympic Games is one that few people actually achieve. Those who achieve it, having been allowed into this exclusive club, dedicate their entire lives, their entire beings to be worthy of being an Olympian. The countless hours of preparation, training — both mental and physical — are beyond what most of us can comprehend.

What is perhaps even harder to comprehend is to have reached that pinnacle of one’s career and to make the decision not to compete. To make a decision to put all of that hard work and ambition aside and to say, “no,” I will not compete because I choose to stand with the oppressed. I am a person of principle and I will not lend a hand to legitimizing racism, violence and oppression, even though they are not directed at me but at someone else.

This was not the first time that Fathi Nourine refused to compete against a member of an Israeli team. He did the same thing in 2019 when he pulled out of the Judo World Championships. He said that his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli. It is no surprise that when he returned home he received a hero’s welcome for his refusal to play Israeli competitor.


Colin Kaepernick

The stance and the statement made by the Algerian and Sudanese Judo competitors is not unlike the stance taken by American football legend Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee while the American national anthem was being sung. When Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, took a knee it was in response to police violence towards Black people in the United States. He made it clear that he could not and would not stand for the national anthem while racism and violence were being perpetrated against people of color in the U.S.

What Kaepernick did was a courageous move by an athlete who knew he had an opportunity to speak up and did. In a statement Kaepernick gave, later on, he said, “I am going to continue to stand with the people who are being oppressed,” and continued, “This stand wasn’t for me, …it’s for people who don’t have a platform.”

Fathi Nourine and Muhamed Abdelrasool refused to legitimize Israel and by doing so they stood for millions of Palestinians who are not being heard. Furthermore, these Olympic athletes set several examples for the rest of us. Israel should be banned from the Olympic Games because it is a violent, apartheid state. Since the Olympic Committee will not ban Israel for political reasons, athletes themselves can take a stance and make a difference.

In a disappointing move, the Executive Committee of the International Judo Federation (IJF), announced the temporary suspension of Nourine and his coach, Ammar Benkhlef. The Committee said that Nourine and Abdelrasool’s move was “completely inconsistent with the philosophy of the federation.” This philosophy includes “the promotion of solidarity as a fundamental principle.”  The statement also makes it clear that “Fathi Nourine and Amar Benikhlef are now suspended and will face a decision by the IJF Disciplinary Commission.”

The statement by the IJF on this issue concludes by saying that, “Judo sport is based on a strong moral code, including respect and friendship, to foster solidarity.” If this is all true then these two men acted in accordance with the IJF philosophy, and it is the IJF Executive Committee that should be suspended for allowing Israel to participate and not abiding by the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israel.

The only way to stop Israel from killing innocent young Palestinians is to take a stance, to resist in any way possible. Resistance to injustice can take on many forms. Clearly, if these two African athletes in the Olympics and an American football player in the U.S. can find a way to resist, so should all people of conscience.

Feature photo | Fethi Nourine poses with a Palestinian flag. Photo | @staddoha | Twitter

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post “I Won’t Compete”: Two Olympians Take Courageous Stand Against Israel and Apartheid appeared first on MintPress News.

Coalition Pushing Beijing Olympics Boycott Comprised of US-Funded Destabilization NGOs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/05/2021 - 1:39am in

WASHINGTON (Substack // Alex Rubinstein) — The United States’ regime change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy, has funded at least half of the groups involved in the media offensive. Other groups involved are otherwise tied to the national security state.

On Monday, the Associated Press ran a story about the campaign with the sole exclusive source coming from an organization that got $272,300 from the National Endowment for Democracy for the years 2016 through 2019.

The AP story claimed the charge was being led by a “coalition representing (emphasis mine) Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others” pushing for a full scale boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled for 2022.

The Associated Press’s story on this campaign featured nearly 200 directly quoted words from Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute, yet it failed to mention that the Tibet Action Institute has received at least $272,300 from the National Endowment for Democracy since 2016.

Senior Researcher at the Tibet Action Institute Tenzin Dorjee recently took to the Washington Post amid escalating attacks on Asian-Americans to call on the Chinese government to apologize to the world for its response to the coronavirus and in September of last year testified before the Congressional Executive Commission on China (co-chaired by Senator Marco Rubio). With a portrait of the Dalai Lama in his backdrop, he claimed China was waging a “violent” campaign to “eradicate” the Tibetan way of life.

Tethong, AP’s sole exclusive source for their story headlined “AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics,” said the coalition is trying to recruit athletes that have publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement and that their method of exerting pressure on the International Olympic Committee is by pressuring its sponsors.

“Participating in the Beijing Olympic Games at this time would be tantamount to endorsing China’s genocide against the Uyghur people,” the coalition says on its website.

“The Chinese government is committing genocide against the Uyghur people,” the coalition claims, continuing on to cite “repression” in so-called East Turkistan (a separatist designation for the Muslim-majority Chinese province of Xinjiang), and more of the same in Tibet, “Southern Mongolia” (another Chinese province) “as well as an all-out assault on democracy in Hong Kong.”

The group also China’s supposed “geopolitical bullying against Taiwan.”

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was sectioned out of the CIA so that the US government could save face by distancing its funding to civil society activist groups working for US hegemonic interests from the agency. I was the first reporter to expose the NED’s funding towards many of the groups involved in the coalition leading the riots in Hong Kong in 2019.

According to the NED’s grant search, which is often lacking entries for grants the organization hands out, they have put $3,049,677 towards organizations for projects focused on Tibet for the years 2016 through 2019.

While AP fails to mention that the organization Tethong belongs to — the Tibet Action Institute — is funded by the NED, the list of members of the coalition, from their own website, uncovers even more shady ties.

The NED gave the World Uyghur Congress $1,284,000 for the years 2016 through 2019; $330,810 to Students for a Free Tibet in the same timeframe; the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center says it has received funding from the NED, however the grant is not recoverable via the NED’s website.

With an office in London, the World Uyghur Congress is headquartered in Munich, Germany. Ajit Singh reported for The Grayzone that the outfit maintains a “network of 33 affiliates in 18 countries around the world” and has received NED backing “from its inception.” The group’s first president called for the fall of China and prior to leading the organization worked for the US propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Founded in New York City, the NED-funded Students for a Free Tibet brags on its website that it has “led campaigns that have cost the Chinese Government billions” and accuses China of “genocidal projects in Tibet.” The group has been endorsed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Campaign for Uyghurs Founder and Executive Director Rushan Abbas previously worked for Radio Free Asia, a US propaganda outlet that, like Radio Free Europe/Liberty, was founded by the CIA. The Campaign for Uyghurs website notes that “when Radio Free Asia launched its Uyghur service in 1998, Ms. Abbas was the first Uyghur reporter broadcasting daily to the Uyghur region.”

The website goes on to note that Abbas “worked closely with the US Department of Defense, Department of Justice, State Department, and US administration [sic]” and highlights her 11-year stint working as a translator at the US prison camp Guantanamo Bay.

We the HongKongers is, ironically, also based in the United States, as is the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.

It’s difficult to find information about China Against the Death Penalty as it maintains no website or social media accounts. Keep Taiwan Free’s Facebook page is run out of both Taiwan and the United States. However, it appears they are based out of New York, as their “Merchandise” page says “you are in the greater New York area, the best way to get the widest selection of items is by contacting us directly.”

Rather than being an organic movement to fight repression by the Chinese government, the “Boycott Beijing 2022” coalition appears to be yet another AstroTurf movement orchestrated by US government lackeys to chip away at China’s transcending presence on the world stage.

Feature photo | Protesters wearing masks of IOC President Thomas Bach, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose in front of the Olympic Rings during a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Ashwini Bhatia | AP

Alex Rubinstein is an independent reporter on Substack. You can subscribe to get free articles from him delivered to your inbox here, and if you want to support his journalism, which is never put behind a paywall, you can give a one-time donation to him through PayPal here or sustain his reporting through Patreon here.

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