FC Barcelona : No Normalisation Between Occupied and Occupier

FC Barcelona: it is time to stop normalising Israel and maintaining a policy of equidistance
between occupier and occupied in Palestine

We have heard that the President of Barcelona Football Club, Sandro Rosell and the
Vicepresident Javier Faus intend to go on a “diplomatic and commercial” mission to Israel and
Palestine on 21 and 23 February. The two executives will visit the towns of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
and Ramallah, where they will have talks with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the
President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Mahmoud Abbas [1].

BDS Catalunya and the rest of the RESCOP (Solidarity Network Against the Occupation of
Palestine) [2], made up of 36 Palestine solidarity organisations across Spain, are strongly opposed
to this visit because it merely serves the interests of Israel by presenting it to the world as a
“normal” country. Unfortunately the systematic breaches of international law since 1948 and the
constant unpunished violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people mean that Israel is
not a “normal” country. The military occupation, the colonisation measures and the apartheid
imposed by Israel in Palestine since 1948, are not policies proper to a “normal” country.

Barcelona FC has traditionally maintained a “neutral” and “equidistant” position in the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict and has made an effort to maintain good relations with both Israeli and
Palestinian authorities. It has also promoted and financed joint sports activities between young
Israelis and Palestinians with the aim of contributing to “peace” and “coexistence” between the
two peoples. Inviting the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to the Barcelona football ground in September
2012 and subsequently – under popular pressure – inviting the Gaza footballer Mahmoud Sarsak
was a paradigmatic example the club’s policy of “neutrality” and “equidistance” [3]. But joint
activities between Palestinians and Israelis that ignore the fundamental rights of the Palestinian
people can only be called one thing: normalisation. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic
and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has defined normalisation in the Palestinian and Arab
context as “the participation in any project, initiative or activity, in Palestine or internationally, that
aims (implicitly or explicitly) to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or
institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation and all
forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.” [4].

Through its policy towards Palestine, Barcelona football club shows that it is still trapped in the
logic of the Oslo Accord of 1993 [5], which gave a strong boost to normalisation activities
between Israelis and Palestinians, especially in the 90s. But 20 years after signing these
agreements the dramatic situation in Palestine shows that, in spite of the huge quantity of money
that has been poured into them by the Western powers and Israel itself, these initiatives for
“peace” and “coexistence” have totally failed. Over the years, Palestinian society has gradually
realised that normalisation activities have only benefited Israel, since they have made it possible
for the Israeli state to go on implementing its illegal policies whilst displaying to the world the
efforts they are supposedly making to achieve “peace”. Nowadays, the immense majority of the
Palestinian people reject normalisation.

In 2005, knowing that only recognition of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people will bring
justice and peace to Palestine and inspired by the struggle against the South African apartheid
regime, more than 170 Palestinian civil society organisations launched a call for Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
against Israel [6] until it fully complies with the precepts of
international law by: 1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the
Wall; 2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;
and 3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their
homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. The sports boycott against Israel is an
essential part of this international campaign for liberty, justice and equality.

This June Israel will host the European Under-21 Football Championship. In this way, the
UEFA will be rewarding a state that destroyed the Gaza football ground and assassinated four
children while playing football during the last military aggression against the Gaza Strip; a state
that arrested two footballers belonging to the Al-Amari club (Ramallah, the West Bank) in February
2012 and has kept them in prison since then under administrative detention that is to say without
presenting charges or giving them a court hearing; a state that has been preventing the free
circulation of Palestinian footballers for decades. For all of these reasons, more than 50 footballers
who play in the main world leagues have condemned holding this championship in Israel by
giving their support to a letter by Frédéric Kanouté [7]. In addition, a popular European campaign
called “Red Card Israeli Apartheid” has been launched and is gaining strength [8]. Recently, the
Palestinian authorities have added their signatures to the petition against this championship taking
place in Israel [9].

For all of the reasons that we have put forward in this letter, BDS Catalunya and the rest of the
RESCOP demand that FC Barcelona put an end to its normalisation activities and to its policy of
equidistance between the Israeli occupying power and the occupied Palestinian people. We also
urge the Club to reply to the Call made by Palestinian civil society and break off all relations
with Israeli institutions. This is the best contribution that the Club can make to a just peace in

BDS Catalunya
Red Solidaria Contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP)

[1] “Rosell viajará a Israel y Palestina en misión diplomática y comercial”

[2] Red Solidaria Contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP)

[3] “El ex preso palestino Al Sarsak rechaza ir al clásico”

[4] Definition of “normalisation” according to the PACBI

[5] “The Oslo 1 Accord” in Wikipedia
http://en:wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo 1 Accord

[6] Call from Palestinian civil society to Boycott, Divestment and Sanciones (BDS) against Israel, 9 July 2005

[7] “Footballers condemn plans to hold U21 European championship in Israel”

[8] “Red Card Israeli Apartheid” campaign

[9] “Palestina hace campaña para que Israel no acoja la final sub-21 de la UEFA”

The RESCOP is made up of the following organisations:

Acsur-Las Segovias
Asociación Al-Quds de Solidaridad con los Pueblos del Mundo Árabe (Málaga)
Asociación Andaluza por la Solidaridad y la Paz – ASPA
Asociación de Amistad Palestina-Granada «Turab»
Asociación Hispano Palestina Jerusalén (Madrid)
Asociación Pro-Derechos Humanos de Andalucía
Asociación Unadikum
BDS Catalunya
BDS Madrid
Castelló per Palestina
Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe (Madrid, Asturias)
Comité de Solidaridad con los Pueblos – Interpueblos (Cantabria)
Comunidad Palestina en Canarias
Comunitat Palestina de Catalunya
Coordinadora de apoyo a Palestina (La Rioja)
Ecologistas en Acción (Confederal)
Fundación IEPALA
Fundación Mundubat
Gipuzkoako palestinaren aldeko plataforma
Izquierda Anticapitalista
Komite Internazionalistak (Euskal Herria)
MEWANDO (Euskadi)
Movimiento Solidaridad Internacional Catalunya – ISM Cataluña / Valencia
Mujeres en Zona de Conflicto – M.Z.C.
Mujeres por la Paz – Acción Solidaria con Palestina (Canarias)
Palestinarekin Elkartasuna (Euskal Herria)
Paz Ahora
Paz con Dignidad
Plataforma de Solidaridad con Palestina (Sevilla)
Plataforma Palestina Ibiza
Plataforma Solidaria con Palestina de Valladolid
Red de Jóvenes Palestinos
Red Judía Antisionista Internacional – IJAN
Sodepaz Balamil
Taula per Palestina (Illes Balears)
Xarxa de Solidaritat amb Palestina de València