Israeli women’s water polo match nearly sunk by BDS

A local Spanish chapter of BDS nearly wrecked the Israeli women’s water polo team’s participation at the European championship playoff match.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

It looked for a time that Israel’s women’s water polo team would be banned from its own European championship playoff match due to a local Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) group in the Spanish city of Molins de Rei where the game was to take place.

Molins de Rei folded under the pressure of the BDS chapter, refusing to allow the women’s team to play Tuesday in their pool. But neighboring Barcelona stepped in and offered its sports facility to their Israeli rivals. The match will be played this evening.

Israel’s team, which is competing for the first time in its history in the European championships of the Women’s World Water Polo League, received the unpleasant news when it flew into the country and found out that their hosts were reneging.

Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev contacted her Spanish counterpart for help.

“The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is clearly anti-Semitic in nature and operates to harm the State of Israel and its citizens,” she wrote. “I hope you take care of it, and that the municipality of Molins de Rei acts in accordance with international Olympic regulations and allows all athletes to compete as equals in matches.”

She also asked him to “take action to protect the well-being and safety of the Israeli sportswomen.”

Although a new venue was found for the match, Spanish media report it may be held behind closed doors and without spectators.

According to Spanish daily el Periodico, an anti-Israel groups announced that it will hold a rally near the pool under the slogan, “You are not welcome.” Catalan police have reportedly met with the heads of the national swimming federation to discuss security.

Twelve teams are vying for the top spot, including current European champion Hungary. Spain, Russia and Greece are in Israel’s group in the first round.

Revital Cohen Gluska, the head of Israel’s Water Polo Association, said, “Now the hard work starts – to find a way into the top eight teams in Europe. It’s certainly possible. This is our goal.”