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Jewish Journal

Jibril Rajoub is a bad sport

by Micah Halpern

November 21, 2013 | 12:11 pm

Jibril Rajoub in 2007

Jibril Rajoub in 2007

Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, is also head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee. And he has gone off on a new rant against Israel. Rajoub laced into Israel declaring it to be a fascist and Nazi country. Then he called for a total boycott of all sports interaction between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And a then a boycott of all of Israel.

Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, has always been a militant figure on the Palestinian political landscape. Now he is claiming that the Israelis, specifically Prime Minister Netanyahu, are "taking advantage of the negotiations in order to play for time and create facts on the ground, which proves that this is an occupation in the form of fascism and Nazism."

Taking his own rhetoric up a notch Rajoub called for an immediate "escalation in the popular activity against the occupation." Them's fighting words literally. The term "popular activity" is an essential code for Palestinians which means violence and attacks against Israelis.

In response, the Israel Football Association released the following statement: "We are disgusted by these wretched statements and reject them. It's unfortunate that Rajoub is using sports for political purposes and is failing to contribute to the creation of a better reality."

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Association Chairman Avi Luzon and the heads of the IDF are trying constantly to help the Palestinian Authority maintain a life of sports as long as it does not put the security of the State of Israel and its citizens in danger."

"Accusing Israel of fascism and Nazism and calling for an armed uprising by Rajoub can be seen as incitement, and it's hard to see how this can help improve the situation."

A conflict of this sort is extremely dangerous and not just because it sets an awful tone for Palestinians. It is dangerous because it frames the issues of this conflict in terms that are wildly out of proportion to the real issues and the true conflict. That is what Jibril Rajoub does and he does it very well.

Rajoub is a live wire. He consistently makes inappropriate, incendiary, very political and wildly exaggerated remarks. For example, during the discussion as to whether or not to hold a moment of silence to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympic Massacre he wrote a formal message to President Jacques Rogges, head of the International Olympic Committee saying that as head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, he was in opposition to the motion because "sports are a bridge for love.. . and should not be used for divisiveness and the spread of racism."

And during an interview with Lebanese TV in May 2013, Rajoub said, "Resistance to Israel remains on [Palestinian] agenda.. . I mean resistance in all of its forms.. . we believe that popular resistance - with all that it entails - is effective and costly to [Israel]."

In response to the United Nations address of US President Obama in 2011, where the President calls for a Palestinians state, Rajoub responded with typical candor. He said "Obama's speech was idiotic. It did not even reflect the US policy or the doctrine they employed in the past. It sounded like a speech of a student leader in a university, rather than the speech of a leader of a superpower."

No subject, event or policy is out of bounds for Rajoub. On the questions of nuclear weapons and the Palestinians, Rajoub told the Hezbollah affiliated television network Al Majaadeen 'until now we have not had nuclear weapons but in the name of Allah, if we had nuclear weapons, we'd be using them.'

Jibril Rajoub is not new to the scene, he is not a newly minted Palestinian leader. Rajoub was a trusted insider in the Arafat era and continues to hold serious and important positions in the current regime. What he is, is an honest mouthpiece for the Palestinian point of view. Rajoub presents the true and transparent attitude of Palestinian leadership.

I do not like what Jibril Rajoub has to say not about Israel and not about the United States or the Western world. But I do like knowing what is really going on in the minds of Palestinian leadership true and unfiltered. And my experience tells me that we should listen carefully to what Jibril Rajoub has to say so that we may better understand what is really happening in the halls and spoken about behind the closed doors of Palestinian leadership.

Jibril Rajoub is a thug, he is also our proverbial fly on the wall.


Micah D. Halpern is a columnist and a social and political commentator. His latest book is "Thugs: How History's Most Notorious Despots Transformed the World through Terror, Tyranny, and Mass Murder" (Thomas Nelson).

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