Commentary- John Minto
The failure of Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer to appear at the ASB tennis classic in Auckland this week is a significant victory for the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against apartheid Israel.
Despite being the subject of protest in 2009 and 2010 Peer was adamant she would to return to Auckland. She told media last year she was keen to come back. We expected her to enter the tournament at the last minute to avoid early publicity and controversy.
However it seems she was unwilling to face further protests in New Zealand which could have led to greater pressure for her expulsion from other tournaments. Following protests in Auckland in 2009 Peer was banned from a Dubai tournament a short time later. Further high-profile protests here would have increased this pressure.
Peer is the highest profile Israeli sportsperson and we take her non-appearance as a good sign for the strengthening of the BDS campaign. She wants to keep her career one step ahead of the boycott but it’s a race she will lose. The international campaign is tightening on Israeli representatives and companies which do business with apartheid Israel.
Global Peace and Justice Auckland is holding a seminar next week with a key organiser of the BDS campaign in Europe. We will be looking at what further action New Zealanders can take to isolate Israel and support the Palestinian struggle.
Arab Israeli’s are discriminated against in all areas of life while the Palestinian population of the Gaza strip and West Bank suffer all the effects of a brutal military occupation.
Israel follows policies towards Palestinians which are remarkably similar to the apartheid policies of the white South African regime. As far back as 1989 South Africa’s Bishop Desmond Tutu said “if you change the names, the description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be a description of what is happening in South Africa.”
Shahar Peer supports her government policies and is the poster girl for the Israeli military. The photo below shows her posing for the media on her first day of induction into the army. Military training is compulsory but Peer has been exempted because of her profile as an international tennis player.
She is more valuable to Israel as an international sporting ambassador than manning a checkpoint on the occupied West Bank.
Speaking about her first day in uniform Peer said serving in the army was “better than playing Maria Sharapova” despite the Israeli army being regarded around the world as a force for state-sponsored terrorism against Palestinians. Peer could have joined the ranks of young Israelis who refuse to do military service (the “refuseniks”) and suffer for their courage. Instead she went out of her way to encourage and promote recruitment to the Israeli military.