Shalom Life | May 26, 2015

Israeli Judo Team Faces Discrimination in Morocco

Locals arrive waving Palestinian flags and chanting "we will murder you"

By: Daniel Koren

Published: May 26th, 2015 in Sports » World

Israeli Judo Team Faces Discrimination in Morocco

Photo: Israel’s Tommy Arshansky against Japan's Hiroaki Hiraoka

Credit: AP


Last week we reported that Israel's judo team faced some harassment at the Rabat airport in Morocco, held up for over eight hours by Moroccan authorities, who also reportedly confiscated their passports.

The team arrived in the country for the World Masters competition in Rabat.

As Ynet News reports, the hardships for the Israeli athletes continued for the remainder of their trip, which cultivated with the Shin Bet's announcement that their security guards would be unable to attend.

They even advised that the team forfeit the competition entirely.

Moshe Ponti, Chairman of the Israel Judo Association, however, pushed for Israel to compete regardless, as the competition holds particular value - providing a score for next year's Olympics in Rio. Working with Marius Vizer, chairman of the International Judo Federation, Ponti was able to ensure that the Israeli delegation would be protected by the Moroccan king's security guards themselves.

Despite that, the Israeli team was still met with chants of "we will murder you," and "you're not wanted here, go home" by fans in attendance who waved Palestinian flags.

They also encountered boo's and jeers from the crowd.

If the trip wasn't difficult enough for them, the team eventually learned that the Israeli flag, and the entire list of Israeli competitors, were completely removed from the competition's official website.

According to famous Israeli judo champion, Yarden Gerbi, the entire ordeal was a disgrace. "As an Israeli, I am ashamed to wait at the airport for eight hours and I am ashamed to hear my fellow team members getting booed – all because we are Israelis. We came for the sake of sports, pure sports, not politics, and this is a disgrace on Morocco and the organizers."

Somehow, despite the harassment, the Israelis were able to make fifth place twice and seventh place three times.

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