The World Is Letting Down Gaza, And The Football World As Much As Anything.

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I am not, as people will know, in favour of Celtic Park being turned into a political theatre. But football itself, as a sport, has taken sides in conflicts before and doubtless will again.

The example of Ukraine, where football is entirely right to condemn Russia, is only the latest example. Going back through the years, there have been plenty of others.

When the world turned up to celebrate the World Cup in South Africa it was about more than celebrating that country’s diversity and the spirit of its politics; it was a sort of unofficial welcome back to that country to the full fraternity of the global game.

It was saying to that nation that it was time to assume a full place again at the table from which it had been banned for years as a result of apartheid. Apartheid was a national policy … did the world really have a right to interfere? Did football have a right to make South Africa a pariah nation?

I say yes to both of those things, just as the world should be condemning Israel for the indiscriminate slaughter of the people of Gaza. I don’t think there’s a living soul who isn’t calling it that now, even those who take Israel’s side 99.5% of the time.

Israel’s actions are rising to meet the definition of a war crime.

If forced starvation kills tens of thousands more Palestinians it surely comes close to meeting the definition of a crime against humanity.

I am not surprised to see the political class in the West do nothing to prevent this, but sport has stood up and stood firm before, and it could very well do it again if it wanted.

UEFA has banned Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and more and more people are asking what Israel has to do to incur a similar ban.

The decision to exclude South Africa from football’s family was a hard one and they were not without high profile supporters … but football took a stand in the interests of justice.

When does it take such a stand here?

And here’s where it should start; with international federations in Europe declaring, one after the other, that the Israeli national team is not wanted on their soil unless it’s an officially scheduled competitive game.

Israel next plays in March; it’s a UEFA Euros Qualifier against Iceland.

Presumably they will want to play a friendly or two before then … and every national association in Europe should refuse to play them either home or away, and publicly state that in advance, and that should remain the position as long as the slaughter in Gaza continues … and beyond that, until Israel commits to a full summit on the issue of the two state solution.

Meaningless, some will say … but I think not. Symbolism matters. A lot.

It would be a seismic shock to their national team and a blow to their national pride.

It would be a stunning repudiation of them as a member of the European football family, and the message would be loud and clear.

Then those same federations should extend the same message to their club teams; no matches on our soil or against our sides unless their teams are compelled to.

But beyond that, they should make it clear that they would consider not even playing those matches, and eventually push UEFA towards making a decision.

UEFA will not currently play games in Israel due to the ongoing conflict, but that has more to do with the safety of fans, people at the clubs and delegates and media than it represents a moral stand … but surely the moral stand is coming?

Surely the great weight of the football world will be brought to bear?

It’s not before time.

The political world might be prepared to let this continue, but football has always charted its own course and so it should here. It is not the responsibility of Celtic, one club, to speak out on this … the European football family as a whole needs to do it with one voice.

Millions around the globe would thank them for it.

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  • Dylan Freeburn says:

    Well said. I often disagree with what you say james but on this topic you have got it spot on.

  • Jim says:

    They aren’t ‘rising’ to meet anything, almost from the start they were comitting warcrimes (white phosporous anyone?), but semantics, they have been comitting genocide for 70 years, with thousands of ‘war crimes’ thrown in. Before the 7th of october, so called hamas atrocity, Israel had beat them to it 70 times, yes 70 atrocities in the preceeding years, up to 3000 innocents killed at a time. there is and never will be a clearer case of genocide and war crimes.
    ps i can point you to the exhaustive list of their atrocities, from attacking refugee camps, to peaceful demos, all attacking unarmed civilians.

  • goodghuy says:

    The problem with that James is that lots of countries support Israel, obviously not the way it is the now, as it’s a tragedy of what’s happening there. I personally believe they have the right to defend themselves like any other people, but what’s happening the now is not great. Hamas started it, but I think there needs to be a ceasefire now, as what’s happening is just not great to see or watch. Russia is a diffferent matter altogether, as they are in a country were they shouldn’t be, Ukraine is a sovereign nation, and Russia should not be there. The west are bang on the money with regards to ther backing for Ukraine. I feel for the Palestinians and also the Israeli citizens. It’s just a tragedy really.

  • Marky says:

    You are right on the consequences to Israel for blatant Genocide. You are wrong when you say Ukraine was invaded. Azov were bombing the Donbass committing genocide on 95% Native Russians. Where is your logic. Ukraine is a collection of regions all ex Russian & not a country…….how can you decry genocide in Gaza but decry Russia for stopping Genocide…..??

    • James Forrest says:

      The geographical entity of Ukraine, recognised by every major world body including the UN as an independent state was invaded. I’m not wrong in the least. And I never mentioned genocide and very deliberately because genocide is a very specific term which people shouldn’t throw around like confetti.

    • goodghuy says:

      What are you talking about ? Ukraine is a country the same as France is for example. Russia have no right being in Ukraine, and I dare them to attack a United nation country, they will not know what’s hit them. Finland and Sweden have became part of NATO for that reason. You need to educate yourself

  • Gerard McKeown says:

    I’ve never understood why Israel is regarded as a European state.
    Are they not Middle Eastern/Asian?
    If fellow ME//A states refuse to play against them FIFA etc should deal with it.

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    James, The Green Brigade have been pro-Palestinian from the off. Piggy-backing on them, will not be tolerated. Especially when the truth outs. HH

    • James Forrest says:

      Maybe I’ve missed your point. I was marching for Palestine before some of those people could find it on the map.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Yes, and you can understand why israel gets rather annoyed about being

    – correctly – called an Apartheid State. They’re not sorry, they just want to

    avoid the sanctions which come with that label.

    South Africa called out israel as an Apartheid State a good while ago,

    and was one fo the first countries to break off diplomatic relations.

    Yes, it would be encouraging if UEFA took a stance, but then they obviously

    bent over backwards to add a non-European country to their roster!

    South Africa was heavily sanctioned until apartheid ceased in that country.

    IF UEFA CONTINUES to remain silent about israel, then all European football

    could be regarded as complicit?

    And like it or not, CFC – i.e. the supporters – have NOT remained silent.

    The supporters know the founding values of our club.

  • Andy Bhoyl says:

    Almost as if the Green Brigade were quite far sighted.

  • Pancho says:

    It’s not a war crime, it’s a genocide, and Israel is not in Europe it’s in the Middle East.

    But guess why they’re in the European Champions League and why there’ll be no concerted outcry against their national team or their participation in the ECL.?

    Because it’s the Zionists running this genocide who also run the game.

    And I bet you don’t even print this.

  • Pancho says:

    Here you go

    A 15 grand fine for waving a flag and the Zionist lackeys at Celtic Park accepted it.

    Now you know how rules the game and why Israel is the ONLY Middle Eastern team allowed to play in the European Champions League.

    As though you’ve never wondered about this before.

  • Pancho says:

    No fine for the Huns singing the banned sectarian song The Billy Boys after scoring the winner against Betis though.

    In fact, not one Celtic blogger has even mentioned it.

  • Pat Magroin says:

    Rising to meet the definition of a war crime happened a long long time ago, but aslong as the same people control it all nothing will change.

  • Jim Armstrong says:

    OK I know I’m going to get shit for this but we live in a democracy the last time I looked.
    You have to remember who started this war, over 1200 innocent people slaughtered by Hamas. So what did you expect Israel to do ? Sit back and say? oh well maybe we can negotiate a peaceful remedy to this horrible thing inflicted on our people? Think again. Why do you think Hamas are backed by Iran? A nation who have a terrible human rights history and inflict horrible atrocities on their own people.
    I totally find the lise of innocent lives being lost in any conflict but war causes that and Hamas declared war on Israel. What did they think the consequences would be after the atrocity they did?

  • CELTICBHOY1 says:

    Celtic fans. On the right side of humanity. Hail hail. Free Palestine.

  • sligo123456 says:

    Excellent post James. How many palestinian civilians more need to be slaughtered before Israel are ‘forced’to stop their genocide attempts in Gazza? At least a new cease fire would help! Lets all say a prayer for Gazza tonight. Some xmas for these poor souls.

  • Brian says:

    Too right. Mass slaughter of kids is ok? Madness

  • Martin says:

    Palestine is being ethnically cleansed. Israel is the only nation on earth which could get away with such an action these days. It’s a dreadful state of affairs. Refusal of friendlies is actually a good idea as it shows international condemnation without actually harming the (innocent) person in the street within Israel.

    It’s also a decision made by the FAs, not the politicians so can be eacted without upsetting the apple cart/trough.

  • goodghuy says:

    I have real sympathy for the Palestinians , like the Ukrainians. I have to say though, a lot has been said about Jews been in that part of the world just after the Second World War, this is absolute garbage. The Jews have been there for thousands of years, the Israelites were there with Moses. Judaism is an older religion than both Christianity and Islam, they have been there for thousands of years, it’s in the Bible.

    • Michael McCartney says:

      My God son go and read the history of the Middle East over the past 2000 years, it is like most history, pretty complicated.
      One thing is very clear there was no State of Israel for around 1900 years, there were Jews living in the Middle East but no Jewish State since around 50 AD, when Imperial Rome destroyed the Jewish State and the Jewish people were scattered and fled around the World.
      The Zionists had no right to declare a Jewish State in Palestine and pressured the west into supporting them through terrorism and the killing of many innocent people including British National Service soldiers.
      If your trying to justify the modern State of Israel through the bible then you’re as foolish as all religious fundamentalists in the modern World.

  • Eldraco says:

    Hear hear,

    The defination has been met and anyone arguing otherwise are misguided at best.

    Both gallant, a psycopatic lunatic of the first degree and netenyatu must be brought before the hauge remember Likud, the cabinet and a high number of isrealis dont support this continuing.

    One last thing, this is not about jews, its about a pariah state, isreal in as much its not about russian people but Russia itself the State .

    Dont fall into the trap.

  • Frank Speirs says:

    Apartheid is only a SMALL part of the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people.. American foreign policy carefully followed by an obedient puppy dog west and directed by a very effective Israeli Lobby dictates how the football bodies and governments react.
    You mention you have been on marches.Well let me advise you that arrests have now been made.
    Leaders have been threatened in Glasgow by the police and they have charged people.. .appearances at Glasgow Sheriff Court appear to be the norm….much safer in a crowd of 60000 to make a protest.Dont you think?

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