newsBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Swimming South Africa ignores calls to boycott Israeli swim meet

The South African Zionist Federation commended the SSA leadership for "standing up to BDS’ deplorable campaign."

A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. Credit: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.
A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. Credit: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

Swimming South Africa has refused to heed demands by Palestinian solidarity groups to boycott the World Aquatics Junior Championships this week in Netanya, according to the South African Zionist Federation.

In a letter to SSA CEO John Minto, the National Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (New Zealand) wrote: 

“The world looks up to South Africa to take the lead in situations like this, where apartheid policies against Palestinians are making their lives miserable and preventing their fair participation in sport. The South African Council on Sport’s statement that ‘there can be no normal sport in an abnormal society’ applies as much to apartheid Israel today as it applies to apartheid South Africa. We urge the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture to implement policy guidelines on a sports and cultural boycott in line with the call from the Palestinian people.

“We call on Swimming South Africa to demonstrate its commitment to anti-racism and genuine transformation by pulling out of the World Junior Championships and refusing to be complicit in Israeli apartheid.”

A statement released by the South African Zionist Federation following the letter congratulating SSA for not caving in to the demand.

“The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) wishes the best of luck to all the South African athletes participating in the World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships taking place in Israel this week. We are pleased that Swimming SA, in line with other South African sports bodies, has refused to be bullied by the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s desperate and divisive attempt to prevent normalisation between South Africa and the world’s only Jewish State,” said the SAZF. 

“The SAZF commends the leadership of Swimming SA for standing up to BDS’ deplorable campaign to prevent South African swimmers from competing in an international swimming event simply because it took place in Israel. The Championships will bring over 600 promising young swimmers from over 100 countries to the beautiful coastal city of Netanya this week,” the statement continued. 

“The divisive and hateful BDS movement stirs up unnecessary division in South Africa by pitting ordinary South Africans against the Holy Land of Israel and encouraging denormalisation. Only South Africans can lose from this equation,” said the SAZF.

“The SAZF welcomes the fact that sport and cultural exchange has triumphed over hate, and we will continue to welcome positive engagements between South Africa and Israel,” the statement concluded.

The SSA CEO Shaun Adriaanse said the organization would not comment on the matter.

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa has also written to Swimming New Zealand, appealing to them to withdraw the Aotearoa team from the swimming competition.  

Swimming New Zealand also ignored calls to boycott and withdraw athletes and the Kiwi team’s Monique Wieruszowski won silver on day 2.

The World Aquatics Junior Championships are taking place in Netanya, Israel from the 4-9 September.

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