Shimon Peres at Israeli Arab kids soccer game
Shimon Peres at Israeli Arab kids soccer gameFlash 90

Former President Shimon Peres coordinated a goodwill soccer game for "peace," in which 80 Israeli and Arab children participated last Monday. According to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the "friendly" match was nothing less than a "crime against humanity."

Leading the charge against the game, in which children aged six to 16 played in Kibbutz Dorot, a rocket-hit town in the south, was Jibril Rajoub, head of the PA Sports Authority and Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) translated Rajoub's explosive comments on official PA TV last Monday that came in response to the game.

The game is part of an initiative launched 12 years ago by the Peres Center for Peace, and had Israeli children from rocket-beleaguered towns near Gaza play with Arab children from Yatta, located south of Hevron in Judea. Speaking at the game with a soccer ball in hand, Peres said "don't play against each other but with each other."

Rajoub evidently was not of the same mind, being quoted in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida saying "any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity." PMW revealed the comments, which Rajoub also posted on his official Facebook page.

The PA official demanded that "all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities."

It should be noted that in mid-August Rajoub on TV announced the PA had made a "political decision" to support Arab terrorists "slaughtering" Jews living in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Rajoub was not alone in his condemnation and call for a crack-down on the joint soccer match.

PA Olympic Committee member Abd Al-Salam Haniyeh called on Rajoub to "immediately interrogate the organizers of the match, settle the account with them and prosecute them on charges of serious treason against the blood of the martyrs and violation of the decisions made by the Palestinian sports community's leadership."

Likewise the National Committee Against Normalization in Palestine "called on the heads of the Palestinian sports (community) and the Palestinian leadership to discover who is behind this 'normalization match.'" 

The Committee's Secretary General, Jihad Uweida, expressed "surprise" and "astonishment" over the Arab organizers' willingness to "do Israel a free service" when the PA "is conducting an international campaign for expelling Israeli sports from the international sports system."

The Fatah leadership of Yatta, where the Arab boys who took part in the game hailed from, quickly distanced themselves from the match, holding "an urgent meeting to discuss the ramifications of the normalization matches" where they "strongly condemned" the event.

Local Fatah branch secretary Dr. Kamal Makhamreh called the participation "an individual act, conceived by sick souls that agreed to be humiliated for a handful of money." He "urged the residents to supervise their children and distance them from these kinds of activities, which damage our cause."

Backing Makhamreh, Fatah's Yatta branch spokesperson Mohammed Al-Birawi said Fatah "has demanded that the (PA) Security Forces settle the account with these reckless people."