PA Sports Chief Faces Complaint After Praising Algerian Who Refused to Compete With Israeli

Palestinian Authority’s Jibril Rajoub praised Fethi Nourine for boycotting Israeli judoka at Tokyo Olympics.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has filed a complaint with the International Olympics Committee (IOC) against Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Authority’s Olympic Committee, after he praised an Algerian who refused to compete with an Israeli athlete during the Tokyo 2021 games, calling on the IOC to take “firm action” against Rajoub for violating the Charter and Code of Ethics.

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the Olympics rather than face an Israeli, and Rajoub praised him in an interview on an Algerian radio station which he then posted on his Facebook page.

“There is no place for meeting with anyone who is connected to this official terror (i.e., Israel), not in sports and not outside of sports. I hope that this will be a message to all the Arabs who are normalizing and those who are rushing [towards normalizing ties with Israel],” he said.

The following day, when meeting with Nourine, Rajoub said his refusal “expresses the real and deep-rooted Algerian affiliation with Palestine, with the cause of Palestine. The best of blessings to the Algerian people and blessings to this great athlete [Nourine]. We wish you all the best, calmness, and stability.”

Rajoub’s comments were in stark opposition to those of the International Judo Federation, which immediately suspended the Algerian and his coach.

Writing to the IOC, Itamar Marcus, founder of PMW and Maurice Hirsch, head of legal strategies for PMW, said that “at its most fundamental level, Rajoub’s statement breaches the ‘Fundamental Principles of Olympism’ as set out in the IOC’s charter. Particularly, it breaches the fundamental principle of non-discrimination and the Olympic spirit, as set out in principles 4 and 6 of the charter.”

“Furthermore, Rajoub’s statements are in clear breach of Article 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 of the IOC Code of Ethics,” they noted.

This is not the first time that PMW has had cause to make complaints to sports bodies following inciting comments by Rajoub.

Three years ago, PMW submitted an extensive complaint against Rajoub to the IOC, but the IOC failed to take action.

In November 2020, PMW submitted an additional complaint, when Rajoub used official Palestinian Olympic Committee stationery to condemn the “crime of normalization” with Israel in the field of sports. The IOC ignored this complaint too.

FIFA took disciplinary action against Rajoub following a complaint filed by PMW and imposed a heavy fine and banned him from football events for a year.

In their most recent letter, Marcus and Hirsch noted that “as the IOC ignores the repeated breaches of its Charter and Code of Ethics by Rajoub and the Palestinian Olympic Committee, the Palestinian Authority continues as policy to celebrate the terrorists who carried out the 1972 Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympians and Rajoub refers with reverence to the planner of the attack, as one of the people who left the Palestinians a ‘heritage.’”

“Before the Rajoub’s hate speech against Israeli athletes leads to another massacre, it is time the IOC took firm action,” they added.

Rajoub, who served time in an Israeli prison for acts of terrorism, is the driving force behind the PA’s battle against Israel in the world of sports.

“Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity,” Rajoub stated in 2014.