Who knows what to believe? The BBC reported earlier today that Argentina cancelled a forthcoming friendly match with Israel, apparently under political pressure over Israel's treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. The Beeb quoted striker Gonzalo Higuain who said that; "They've finally done the right thing." The Israeli Embassy in Argentina confirmed that the game was off. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently called Argentine President Mauricio Macri in an attempt to salvage the game, which was due to be played in Jerusalem on Saturday. News of the cancellation was met with cheers in Gaza, where at least 120 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during recent protests.
Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lierberman said that it is "too bad Argentina's footballers did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to impinge our basic right to self-defence and bring about the destruction of Israel. We will not yield before a pack of anti-Semitic terrorist supporters." Reading the BBC story then, it seems pretty clear that the Argentine team couldn't in good conscience play the friendly, knowing what goes on in Gaza right? Well hold your horses. A Sky News report claims that Argentina called off the friendly, over threats made against Lionel Messi, the Argie's star player and Barcelona legend. Sky writes;
Argentina have cancelled their football friendly with Israel after protests by pro-Palestinian groups and claims of threats against star player Lionel Messi. Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian football association, had encouraged fans to burn shirts bearing Messi's name if he decided to play. The Israeli embassy said "it regrets to communicate the suspension of the match between Israel and Argentina", and referred to unspecified "threats" and "provocations" against Messi. So who's lying? Well the Israeli's are the kings of spin for sure and before issuing the press release claiming that the game had been cancelled in the interest of the safety of Messi, they should have read the tweets of their defence minister Lieberman, who clearly blames the footballers for giving in to haters, strongly implying that the decision to cancel was a political one.
The campaign group Avaaz, which had called for the game to be cancelled, praised what it called a "brave ethical decision". "This proves Argentina understands there is nothing friendly about playing in Jerusalem, when just miles away Israeli snipers are shooting unarmed protesters," said Alice Jay, campaign director at Avaaz. Quite right. FIFA, UEFA, CONCACAF and all the other football governing bodies should announce an immediate boycott of Israel. Israeli clubs should be booted out of European club competitions indefinitely and the country banned from World Cup qualifying campaigns for the foreseeable too. No country, no business no individual should work with this racist, genocidal apartheid state. For more information go to www.bdsmovement.net