World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body, has ruled that the decision by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to disinvite an Israeli team, Tel Aviv Heat, from an international competition last month was not discriminatory.
World Rugby’s decision sets a bad precedent and compounds the unsporting move by SARU that should raise a red flag not just in the world of sport but also in the arena of international diplomacy.
Let’s first review the sequence of events. SARU announced on February 3 that the Tel Aviv Heat team was no longer invited to the March 24 competition, called the 2src23 Mzansi Challenge. The decision came following pressure from the South African BDS Coalition, an affiliate of the Palestinian BDS National Committee that promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
SARU president Mark Alexander said that after listening to the opinions of “important stakeholder groups,” the decision had been made to disinvite Tel Aviv “to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division, notwithstanding the fact that Israel is a full member of World Rugby.”
In an interview with The Citizen, a South African newspaper, South African Jewish Board of Deputies vice president Zev Krengel said Alexander had told him that the invitation to Tel Aviv Heat had been pulled “when BDS and other antisemitic groups put pressure on them and [issued] death threats.”
Tel Aviv Heat logo (credit: Courtesy)
…. to be continued
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