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The Messi who did not play in Jerusalem

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The Messi who did not play in Jerusalem
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The decision of the Argentine football team to call off the friendly match with Israel that was scheduled to be held on June 8 at Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem has been welcomed by the peace-seekers across the world with much elation.

The friendly matches are being held in different cities across the world ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament scheduled to be held in Russia starting on June 14. It was as part of this that the soccer match between Israel and Argentina was also decided. However, since the announcement of the match, the demand had also been raised that Argentina should withdraw from the match with slaughterer state of Israel taking place in the Israeli-occupied Jerusalem. It was the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which led the global boycott campaign against Israel and Palestine Football Association that initially came out against the friendly match. The soccer fans all over the world took up their call. The cyber space has been active with campaigns against the match for the past one week. The social media was abuzz with the face of Argentine football team and tags and messages targeting Lionel Messi a favourite of soccer lovers all over the world. There were rampant criticisms that playing football in a stadium that has been constructed by Israel where the children of Gaza are murdered, using the money seized from the Palestinians was against Messi’s standards of fair play. The campaign gained momentum with criticisms, concerns, advices and sorrows. There were also calls lately, to burn Lionel Messi jerseys if Argentina plays in Jerusalem. Every remark issued by Palestine Football Association President Jibril Rajoub was shared a million times. It was amidst the massive pressure and campaigns that the news which elated the peace-seekers emerged: Messi’s team will not play in Jerusalem.

Israel had tried its best to conduct the match as planned. When things seemed to go out of control, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had on Tuesday phoned Argentine president Mauricio Macri and requested not to cancel the match. For Israel, which faces a big moral crisis at the international level in the backdrop of the recent genocide in Gaza, this friendly game was crucial. This was the reason why they had wanted the match to happen and the Prime Minister himself intervened in the matter. But the Argentine Football Association was firm in its stance of cancelling the game. International media report that Argentine players such as Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain adopted a firm stance against the match with Israel.

Israel is a country which plays with weapons. They have been murdering unarmed civilians on a daily basis. It was only a few days ago that Razan al-Najjar , the 21-year old Palestinian paramedic was shot dead by Israeli forces while she tended the injured. Razan became the face of Palestinian struggle and the world’s outcry. It was at the same time when the youth spoke about Razan that the campaign related to the friendly match brewed up on social media. Argentina had no choice other than to succumb to the pressure from both the factors. Thus, the world witnessed an astonishing popular protest striking a goal of success.

The nation of Israel is an entity that does not care at all for basic justice and value concepts shared by all humanity, and entirely based on lack of state morality. The atrocities they have been committing on Palestinians over the last seven decades will be recorded as the most ruthless experience of the history of mankind. In spite of that, as a country with a prominent place in the international hierarchy, they survive with strength. But that is only a material existence. Viewed in the perspective of morality and popular will, Israel is a continuously failing state. Palestine on the other hand is a source of inspiration and fervor of the justice-seeking counter force of the world. Therefore, the Argentine decision to withdraw from the Jerusalem match is as much the latest in the annals of the moral victory of Palestine, as that of the moral defeat of Israel. There are lessons for all in this.

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